As I switched gears from my normal work tasks to ponder on this month’s post, I stopped to take a deep breath and looked around at my home office. My eyes settled first on the stack of books propped up precariously on the corner of my desk. The pile features a host of things I am in the midst of reading, intend to read, or will probably NEVER read because I’ve lost interest in the content or couldn’t get into the author’s style of writing.
Next, I turn to see a slew of file folders. They are bloated and bulging from all the papers I’ve yet to file. UGH. I wonder how much of this stuff I really need, anyway.
Finally, I decided I’d be more likely to encounter some blogging inspiration if I were to turn to peer out my office window. I can see a bright pink flower blooming from one of the plants I thought had perished in this past winter’s freeze. Ahh … Spring has definitely sprung. Then it hit me. My work-at-home life could definitely use some spring cleaning!
Yearning for some quick ways you can freshen up your work environment and liven up your daily routine?
Try Come of These Spring Cleaning Tips for the Work-at-Home Woman:
1. Purge. De-Clutter. Repeat.
Be honest with yourself. Are you a little bit of an office “hoarder?” I am. I mistakenly think I am going to need all those little scraps of paper I jotted notes or doodled on at some point in the future. And the fact is, in my 20+ years of professional work, 99% of the stuff I squirrel away I have never needed again. And the 1% I did need, I couldn’t find anyway. So, it is high time I started purging some of the paper clutter. One way I can consolidate some of this moving forward is to keep all my notes and scribbles contained in spirals (I like the little pastel-colored steno pads). Just date them (date of first and last note), keep them for a while, and set a period in which you will commit to purging them (e.g., one after one year).
2. Ditch the Guilt & Give It Away Now
I must admit that I feel a little guilty for not reading all those books I had planned to finish. But, life for any work-at-home woman moves fast, and changing interests, priorities, and responsibilities really impact what I can spend my time reading. I am vowing to ditch the guilt and start giving away some of these books. I have friends and colleagues who might be interested in them, or, I can donate them to my local library. And speaking of libraries, I can skip the guilt in the future by checking out more of these books from the library instead of buying them.
3. Digital Dusting
I have emails filed away in my email folders from 2003. I have e-newsletter subscriptions that I get on a regular basis that I delete unread every single time I receive them. There are old documents saved on my system that I NEVER, EVER, EVER access. I think I will do some digital spring cleaning by archiving old messages and documents onto an external hard drive and by clicking “unsubscribe” on the emails I am not reading.
4. Clear Your Mind
Are you in a mental rut? Do you feel like your creativity is waning? As we age, we have to actively keep our minds engaged and refreshed. There are a few things you can do to help yourself in this area, including taking time to pray or meditate (this will help you to clear your mind and de-stress), committing to getting plenty of rest, eating right, and getting regular physical exercise. I would also suggest you challenge yourself mentally in new ways—like learning a new language, brain teasers (there are some cool brain exercise apps for iPhone/iPad/Blackberry/Droid), Sudoku, crosswords, etc.
5. Freshen Up Your Work Environment
I have already mapped out my new office, complete with the IKEA furnishings, new wall paint, and more. But, alas, as much as I would love to totally re-decorate my office, I do not have the resources in my budget currently to do so! But, with just a few hours and my husband’s muscles, I can re-arrange my office furniture and make it look like a brand new space. Plus, with all those files put away and that pile of books cleaned up, I have some room on my desk to put a bright, new flower arrangement. To top it off, I spent a little time in iTunes putting together some fresh new music playlists for my work time. Life is GOOD!
6. Renew Connections
No matter what line of work you are in, your success is impacted in some way by the relationships you build – with your colleagues, customers, boss, family, etc. As a work-at-home woman, you can easily find yourself isolated from the outside world. I am planning to physically reconnect (over coffee, lunch, a walk in the park, SOMETHING) with one former contact (colleague, friend, mentor, mentee, etc.) per month. That way, I can renew these relationships, enjoy the synergy that these relationships provide, and have that refreshing, much-needed experience that comes with getting out of my home office once in a while.
We all need to take the time to analyze, improve, refresh, renew and CHANGE. That is what ultimately makes us happy and productive. What suggestions do you have to renew and refresh your work-at-home life?