A fashion-loving friend of mine had a problem. She’d accumulated so many clothes over the years that she’d run out of room in her wardrobe. As she owned some amazing collector’s items, I suggested she sell her collection at a bazaar to those looking for unique pieces. She followed my advice and ended up making a decent amount of money. Interestingly, many entrepreneurs have started their business this way, such as the Briton Rachel White, who turned selling kid’s clothes on eBay into a million-dollar business.
De-cluttering your home has numerous health and financial benefits. It gives you space to breathe and stops you from feeling as though you are being suffocated by all your stuff. It also makes your house easier to clean, and if you do sell some items from time to time, that money can go towards your savings. De-cluttering also reduces stress and encourages positive energy to flourish in your home. Think about it, you won’t be misplacing your belongings any more as you’ll have less to misplace.
This also applies to your office.
Having a clear-out can be a positive move and enhance your performance more than you’d realise. By eliminating certain aspects of your business or changing the way things are done, you can free up time to focus on more important issues.
Take a look at business meetings for example. I have narrowed down meeting times to a minimum and only schedule one when there is something very important on the agenda.
If a matter can be discussed over the phone or via email then I choose that option instead. Other companies I know conduct meetings standing up rather than sitting down. Writer Melissa Dahl recently wrote in New York magazine that conducting meetings this way cuts down meeting times by up to 34 per cent.
It’s certainly something to consider. A recent study by the consulting firm Bain & Company found that senior executives spend two full days a week in meetings, with three or more colleagues. In 22 per cent of those meetings, they would send three or more emails every half-hour.
Which takes us to emails, another form of clutter. Checking emails during work hours consumes an enormous amount of our time.
Instead, dedicate a specific time in your day to answer emails. Some emails are urgent and cannot be delayed, and that is fine. But anything that is not highly urgent can be catered for later – and try to avoid checking your inbox on the weekend – instead take a break.
Another way to save time is to create archive or subject folders in your inbox when you sort or save your emails. That has saved me time when trying to retrieve information from a few years ago.
Your office space and environment should also be decluttered every once in a while. At the end of every week, I shred, recycle, or file any documents that I have no use for any more. My desk is always almost clear, reducing distractions and helping me to focus on work.
Corporates worldwide are increasingly trying to take a stand against unnecessary clutter. Intel, the chip manufacturer, introduced a rule banning meetings without a purpose. And Volkswagen has barred employees from checking emails after working hours. And in an attempt to infuse a decluttering work culture, some multinational have implemented quotas that allow their employees to dedicate time to decluttering.
I suggest you start with your workspace, by clearing out your office first and then moving on to your work schedule. Next, dedicate a specific time to view and respond to emails. Do not overwhelm yourself. Take it one step at a time.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.
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