Last week I wrote about my Project Extreme Office Clean Up: I’m throwing out 75% of ALL of my books, notes, clippings, files, binders, programs and papers.
A lot of people resonated with this subject. Some people told me they were cleaning up as well. Others asked for tips & advice.
So here are 5 tips to help you declutter (plus an unexpected reason why it’s important to do this):
Tip 1: break it down
You don’t have to do it all at once. Break the project down into little pieces: go through one binder at a time. Or clean up for 10 minutes per day.
Tip 2: go through EVERYTHING that’s in your office and only keep things for one of these 3 reasons
1) You MUST keep it. (For example: here in The Netherlands you’re obliged to keep your business administration for 7 years, and your personal administration for 5 years.)
2) You regularly use it.
3) You love it.
Tip 3: if you want to keep something that doesn’t meet any of these criteria, ask yourself this:
What is it I’m REALLY holding onto?
What is the REAL reason I can’t let go?
I have several dozens of books & programs on marketing, sales, etc.
I regularly clean up my office, BUT I’ve NEVER thrown out ANY of these programs for OVER 9 YEARS.
- I paid good money for it – throwing it away is like throwing away money. Would be stupid and I’m not stupid, right? Right.
- It’s good to keep it because every entrepreneur needs a success library. (Right?….Really?….)
- I still need this information.
But after a couple of years, I know for sure that I’m NEVER using most of it anymore.
So what were my REAL reasons for keeping it?
- I doubted my abilities as an entrepreneur.
- I hated marketing for so long and knew so little about it, that I also believed I was lousy at that for a long time, too.
- In general: I believed I needed that stuff because I was not good enough, not smart enough, didn’t know enough, and wasn’t good at implementing what I DID know.
What I was holding on to was NOT just information, programs, or books.
What I was ALSO holding on to was a very negative perspective on myself AND my business.
And every time I saw any of that stuff, I unconsciously sent myself the message that I was not good enough.
This is why it is SO important to be honest about the REAL reasons you hold onto your things, and the message you’re sending yourself by keeping stuff you no longer love or need:
Does this message serve & support you?
Or does it make you feel bad?
When you can't let go of something, ask yourself: what am I REALLY holding on to?Click To Tweet
Tip 4: create a system for everything that stays
If it’s on paper: get rid of those stacks, and put it in a binder in a way you can find it again.
And use a program like Evernote for everything else. That’s a great (free) program to file & find all of your notes.
Tip 5: what to do with things you’re not sure you’ll need again
Put them in a box, and take that box out of your office. Keep it for six months. Anything you take out during that time because you need it, stays.
The rest can go. If you don’t need or miss it for 6 months, you’ll probably never need it again.
This week’s transformational action:
Is it time for you to declutter?
If so, get started by cleaning up for 5-10 minutes TODAY.
Make a plan to clean up the rest of your office using the tips above.
And don’t forget to be honest about the REAL reasons for keeping your stuff…
© 2014 Brigitte van Tuijl
BONUS TIP: If you like to read more about cleaning up your stuff, not just your office, this is a very practical book with lots of helpful tips & advice:
Getting Rid of It: The Step-by-step Guide for Eliminating the Clutter in Your Life, by Warren and Betsy Talbot.
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