Spring Cleaning

Wow, it’s April already?  Although it is officially spring, Mother Nature in Central Ontario has not been gifting us with the typical rain and warmer temperatures, which brings hope for the season to follow. No, in fact, with the recent ice storm, we now have an extensive amount of clean-up to do. The picture you see in this post is a snapshot of our backyard and gives you a sense of the workload ahead for us and others in our neighbourhood.  My husband and neighbours who have chainsaws have been working away a little each night.  Let’s just say we will have firewood for at least a year!  There are limbs hanging down all over the place and pieces of trees everywhere – it will take weeks to get everything cleaned up.  Then there’ll be the regular spring yard clean-up and thatching and aerating of our lawns.  So many things already on the ‘To Do’ list and the list keeps growing.  How will we ever get around to doing it all?

This got me thinking about what happens in the business world.  We have seasons of sorts as well, we just label them differently.  Peak-periods, Black-out periods, Quarterly taxes, WSIB, CPP and EI payments and submissions, Quarter-end, Year-end and Fiscal Year-end.  These are times when businesses or corporations hire people for short contracts or leverage their existing staff to: pack up, label and catalogue year-end files, finalize T4’s for a few examples. 

This usually means all-hands-on-deck to meet important deadlines. 

Despite the importance of meeting the deadlines, there’s always all the regular duties and responsibilities to stay on top of.  This is where strong leadership and solid communication skills really come into play.  In order to meet the deadlines; such as the continuous demands of our customers, the market, technology, social media -the list is endless – communication is key.   For many businesses or professions, deadlines can be regulatory and/or compliance driven.  Whatever the case may be, meeting specific deadlines requires discipline, good policies and procedures, and having a solid strategy in place.  Accountability is essential.

So, again… when do we find time to do that necessary clean-up?  Often year-end being in the fall or in December, forces us to do our taxes.  What about everything else though?  What I have found is that as a small business owner and as a professional coach, I have other cleaning that needs to be done – workshop materials that need to be catalogued and filed away properly, client files need to be reviewed and updated, and a home office that needs attention.  Spring Cleaning is a must AND it can be challenging to put aside time for it.  Here are a few tips that I find helpful to ensure that Spring Cleaning actually happens and secondly, that it is productive and successful.

5 Steps to a Productive and Successful Spring Cleaning:

  1. Mark your calendar with an official date and a “DO NOT BOOK” note in your calendar. My official Spring Cleaning date this year is the last Friday in April.
  2. Put an Out-of-Office message on your email and your telephone voice mail the night before. This will help prevent interruptions AND let people know you are unavailable and when you’ll return to the office.
  3. Be sure to have a list of 3-5 tasks that you want to accomplish in front of you.  Schedule the most important tasks first, then go in order of importance from there. Preparation is key if you want to make the most of this day.
  4. Be sure to have on hand, a few bankers’ boxes to pack up any files you wish to store and which will go a long way to decluttering your office. You might be surprised as to just how much you will get rid of.  Be ready and open to at least pack stuff up and you can decide what officially goes where later.
  5. Take scheduled and timely breaks throughout, to eat, drink and get some fresh air. This will ensure you stay motivated, nourished and energized throughout the day.

After your Spring Cleaning is done, step back and take a look at all that you’ve accomplished.  You’ll be amazed at just how great it feels to spend time sorting, filing and thinning out the herd.  Pat yourself on the back and I’ll (almost) guarantee that you’ll want to do it again next year.  That’s how it all began for me.  Enjoy!