Spring Cleaning Isn’t Just For Your Home
Now that the spring is finally here, you might have planned to do some spring cleaning. Typically, that means organizing things, putting away winter clothes, and – for me – actually vacuuming under the bed. But spring cleaning isn’t just for getting rid of those pesky dust bunnies, it’s also a useful activity for businesses.
Spring cleaning at work accomplishes many of the same things it does in our homes. It makes us more organized, it reduces stress and clutter, and it streamlines processes, which makes us more productive.
Here are a few tips that will help you “spring clean” your business and your career.
Measure Your Time
All of us have some time that we “waste” during our day. Whether it’s time spent looking at pictures on social media, reading blogs, watching videos, or doing a variety of other low priority activities, this is time spent during work hours that isn’t dedicated to achieving your work goals.
Of course, we all need to take breaks during our busy workday. Taking a break can be incredibly beneficial and increase productivity. However, a lot of leaders aren’t aware or conscious of how their time is actually spent and how their teams spend their time.
It’s a good idea to do a mini audit of how time is spent at work. What activities are taking up most of your time? Are these the ‘right’ activities to help you achieve your goals? Does your team focus too much time on certain tasks that don’t deliver a level of value to the business? Keep in mind that “wasted time” doesn’t necessarily mean time spent watching cat videos or playing smartphone games. During your analysis, you may find that your team is spending too much time in meetings or dealing with particular issues or processes that could be streamlined or eliminated.
There are processes in every organization that exist because “that’s the way it’s always been done.” However, just because something is routine, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily efficient.
Review the processes that happen in your organization / department / team and determine if they could be completed in a more efficient manner. Engage colleagues and team members for their advice and input on which processes they find are more onerous and can be improved.
All of us have digital clutter. My inbox currently has over 4000 messages! It’s definitely time for me to de-clutter. From hard drives filled with photos, documents, and spreadsheets to email apps with hundred of unread messages, digital clutter not only makes us less productive, but it also distracts us throughout the day. Review your computer, smartphone, server and any other technology that you use regularly and delete or archive files that are no longer necessary. Look through your email and social profiles as well. Unsubscribe from newsletters and and ‘unfollow’ social feeds and blogs that distract you and waste time. Then ask team members to do the same.
Another important way to de-clutter is smartphone notifications. You likely want to receive notifications on your phone for important emails and action items, but you probably also get a lot of other notifications that don’t serve any purpose other than to distract you. Some argue that we should turn off email notifications / pop-ups so that we can be more focused on a task without continuous interruptions. Think about whether this would work for you.
Digital spring cleaning may also highlight the digital clutter that you create for your team. If you send out a lot of emails, texts or other messages, review your processes and think about whether or not all of your notices are necessary or if they distract from important work. Can you condense your comments into one longer email instead of multiple messages throughout the day? Can you wait to share information when everyone is together and can discuss the issue at hand versus engaging in lengthy emails back and forth? Any way you can streamline processes can improve team performance.
Review Business Documents
Most organizations have a variety of documents and templates that employees use over and over again, often without a detailed review. Think of customer-facing promotional documents, invoices or contracts as well as internal documents like manuals and policies. Spring is a good time to review all of these documents and see where changes can and should be made.
Much like streamlining processes, the same can be done with documents. Are all of the docs on your Intranet or business cloud necessary or are there some that haven’t been used in months? Could you update the text or design of these documents to make them more functional, less cluttered and clearer?
Talk To Your Team
Team members often have ideas, suggestions, and input when it comes to streamlining and improving efficiency. No one enjoys wasting time and being inefficient; so there is an inherent desire to find faster and better ways to accomplish team goals. Employees may have regular “pain points” that they don’t discuss, but that make their day-to-day activities more difficult. During your spring cleaning process, talk to those you work with and ask them for advice on streamlining operations and improving productivity and engagement. You may not be able to act on or change everything your team has issues with, but you will likely find some good ideas and advice. Plus, your team members will appreciate the open dialogue.