In the summertime when the weather is high
You can chase right up and touch the sky
You’re feeling stressed
You got clutter, you got piles on your mind
Pick a pile, choose a room
Get it cleared and put your worries behind*

*I took liberty with the lyrics of Mungo Jerry’s, In The Summertime.  Feel free to sing along:-)

Summertime is a great time for relaxing walks in the evening, hanging at the pool, or a barbeque with friends.  However, it’s also a great time to tackle those office organizing projects that you have put off for so long.  Before you chuckle and think, “Is she serious?”, realize that many people experience slow times at work during the summer.  Why not take advantage of the quiet time?  (Note: For those working from home and feel things are more chaotic in summer because the kids are home, see my tip below.)

Piles – Go through them ruthlessly whether on your desk, on your floor, on your credenza, or any other horizontal surface that is cluttered. Sort the piles using cardboard file boxes labeled File, Act, or Toss (Toss can be divided into separate boxes of Recycle and Shred).  Once you’ve sorted the piles make a plan to carry out the actionable items before the end of summer so once things pick up again you’re caught up.

Make Decisions Now – Clutter results because you have not decided what to do with something.  Don’t let new information that comes into your office collect, make a decision now! If this does not come easy to you, try asking these Art of Wastebasketry™ questions:

  1. Does it require action?
  2. Is it recent enough to be useful?
  3. Is it difficult to get again?
  4. Are there tax or legal implications?
  5. Is there a specific use?
  6. What’s the worst possible scenario if I didn’t have it?

Files – 80% of what you file away is never looked at again.  Go through your overstuffed files and identify items to get rid of or scan so you can make room for new items you need to file. Purging includes old and outdated papers as well as file folders with curled edges and titles you can no longer read.  Create new labels for your files using a label maker or label program.  Labeled files are much easier to read, thus making it much easier to find what you need when you need it.

E-mail – Go through your inbox and unsubscribe from lists that are no longer of interest to you; including retailers, newsletters, business and personal lists.  Also, check the settings on your favorite social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) to ensure your e-mail notifications are set appropriately as to not over clog your inbox.

Calendar – Review your calendar for the past year.  Look at times where you were really booked with appointments and meetings.  Are there annual events or meetings that you could possibly say “no” to this year in order to give yourself some breathing room?  Look at upcoming events and make a plan for what you need to do to prepare.  In other words plan what you can so you are ready when the date of the event arrives.

“When the weather’s fine we go fishing or swimming in the sea.” Mungo Jerry, In The Summertime.  Enjoy fun summer activities even more knowing your office is the organized and productive environment you need to accomplish your work.

NOTE: Home Office – Whether your office is a place you work to earn money or a place where you manage the business of life, you’re much more efficient if the space is organized.  If you cannot find that summer lull-time in order to tackle your piles and files try one of these tips:

  • Grab a pile from your office and bring it to the backyard for sorting.  Let your kids play as you sort your pile into the categories described above (File, Act, or Toss).
  • While you are organizing your office, have your kids organize their room or playroom.  Encourage them to get rid of as much as they can by offering a reward for their hard work.
  • Use the extra daylight hours to get up early and spend a few hours organizing your office.  Then enjoy the rest of your day doing an activity you enjoy.
  • Hire a local high school or college kid to entertain your kids for a few hours while you create the productive environment that will help you to accomplish your work so you can enjoy your life.

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