Organizing for the New Year

While most people were enjoying time off at year’s end, I worked. And I didn’t mind.

Two views of a desk -- one messy, one clean.

Most of the day was spent making the piles disappear from the office, and it was well worth the time. (Photos by Cynthia Price)

There was nary a creature stirring, which meant that I could clean out my inbox, sort through files and basically get set for the New Year. I find it helpful to do this exercise twice a year, usually in January and again in late August around back-to-school time. I do it both at home and at work.

Here are 4 tips for getting organized:

Have the necessary supplies on hand. It’s easier at work, where we have a supply closet. At home, it usually leads to a quick run to a store. Files and labels are critical. So are trash bags (more on that in # 3).

Start with the desk surface. I take everything off my desk and clean the surface. Once I do that, I don’t usually want to put everything back. I tend to only keep out the files and papers that are critical for that time. The rest are filed in a drawer. My stapler, tape dispenser and other such supplies are corralled in a desk drawer. I have an attractive container for my pens and pencils.

Open the drawers. Go through each drawer and see what you no longer need. Throw the non-essentials into the trash bag and recycle the paper. I limit myself on storage deliberately. Most of my files are electronic, which helps cut down on clutter. If I discover business cards, I enter them into my contacts online. I also connect with the person via LinkedIn. Research material that is no longer needed is discarded. My files all have a specific name. I don’t allow for a “miscellaneous” folder as that’s too easy to fill with anything and everything. I do have a folder, though, in which I can stash notes or emails for a month or two. Then I have to toss them.

Review your computer files. I know you thought you were finished, but you’re not. Electronic storage needs to be reviewed and cleaned up. If you have files that you don’t need, delete them and empty the trash. Do you have thousands of emails in your inbox? Do you really need them? Delete or archive as needed. Better yet, respond. And don’t store files on your desktop thinking it’s a short cut. Before long the desktop is cluttered.

Now you are ready for the New Year!

New Year, New Blog Plans

I must begin this blog with an apology to my faithful readers. I was a bit (okay, a lot) slack toward the end of the year. I could make all kinds of excuses, but I won’t. For more than four years, I have published twice a week, every week.

Then one day, I missed a day. I didn’t have a blog written, and I told myself I would work on it at day’s end. I’m sure you know the rest of the story. Of course, once I missed posting that one blog (or skipped that one workout), it was easy to skip the next one.

For a brief time, I considered simply ceasing to post altogether. However, I was talking with a business partner in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who shared how much he enjoyed my posts (thanks Rick!). It was nice to hear those words, and I realized how much I do enjoying writing and posting.

(Courtesy of WordPress)

(Courtesy of WordPress)

For 2014 I’m recommitted and I’ll be working the plan. What will be different?

Preparation: Part of the reason I skipped a blog post was that I had fallen behind on my research reading. I also wasn’t writing down possible blog topics that often provide inspiration when it’s a day to post the blog.

Content Calendar: I have all of the dates mapped out through June and even ideas for each month for the second part of the year. I’ve noted when I’ll be attending conferences and workshops that might provide inspiration. And the pile of books that I threaten to read will be great blog fodder once I finish them – now that’s inspiration.

Switching Days: I realized that posting on Sundays and Wednesdays was not working for me so I’m switching to Tuesdays and Thursdays. I hope that will be good for my readers who are seeking inspiration at work. For me, it means a weekend to research, write, edit and reflect, and still meet my deadlines.

Creativity: When I was shooting a photo a day, I often shot photos that would illustrate blogs. Sometimes the very act of shooting a photo led to a creative idea. Since I ceased that project, I often have no photos to accompany the blog, yet studies show that images are processed in the brain 60,000 times faster than text.

So, I’m back, and I hope I made the right decision. Let me know what you think about the Tuesday/Thursday schedule or any topics you’d like me to cover. I’ll do my best.

And thanks for sticking with me!