Fotolia_35778750_XSAfter the chaos of holidays, work and personal life towards the end of 2011, I knew I desperately needed to have my own office productivity day.  But I was having difficulty prioritizing this, putting myself and my office first, and actually making it happen (sound familiar?).  I finally decided I needed to "practice what I preach" and find a way to make it happen. I partnered with a group of colleagues to insure that we focused our efforts for the day and had fun at the same time!  Putting myself in my client's shoes for the day was more valuable than I could have imagined.

I'm happy to share my challenges, successes and "aha's" from the experience.   I hope this will help you to realize how important this maintenance is and give you some tips for having an effective office productivity day (or 1/2-day) for yourself.

Two key words to describe the results of my day are control and perspective.  I spent the first 1/2 of the day clearing the clutter, including going through reference files, bookshelves and baskets of papers and other items.  My longer-term goal is to move towards a near-paperless office, so I wanted to be sure to clear out the paper that was not needed in paper or electronic form.  I sorted unfiled papers into piles to scan immediately, to file and scan later, and action items.  The second 1/2 of the day was spent filing papers and reviewing my action files.  The biggest impact for me was this action file review.  I had not done a great job of keeping up with the files and continuing to assign tasks to each project.  Therefore, every time I opened my desk drawer, I was overwhelmed by the number of projects I was not making progress on.  When I reviewed the folders, I easily realized that many of them were no longer relevant, active or a priority.  For others, I made hard decisions to let the project drop or move it to a reference file until it became a higher priority.  This resulted in a reduction of exactly 50% of my project files.  So I had been overwhelmed and stressed about projects and tasks that, when really thinking through my vision, goals and priorities, did not even exist (i.e. perspective)! 

I then spent time reevaluating my current action file system to determine why it had not been working.  I made some tweaks and am now excited about moving forward with my new systems.  While I still had a bit of work left to do after the day, including scanning files to reach my near-paperless goal, having cleared out unneeded paper and reevaluated priorities and systems has given me a much greater sense of control over my schedule and my day.   It was a wonderful, personal reminder of why I do what I do to help my clients with these same challenges, and why it is so important.

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