My girlfriend is a list maker. I'm a list breaker (or rather, avoider). But even I know sometimes creating a list can make seemingly insurmountable big picture goals feasible, if only because they help us visually understand what needs to get done, while affording an opportunity to cross off tasks as they're completed. Taking this into account, I devised a simple 10 item checklist recently to help me get spring cleaning off to a good start, focusing specifically on my workspace. I wanted to share because the list is simple to complete but makes a big difference in your everyday workflow.
It's Thursday today, so I'm assigning you a simple 10 item to-do checklist to tackle by the end of Monday. That means you can do all 10 at once, which shouldn't take you more than an hour maximum (unless you're a potential candidate for the show Hoarders). OR if your middle name is "Procrastination", you can break the list to just two tasks per day. Just be sure you do both (as a diminutive green sage once professed, "Do, or do not. There is no try.") Small and easy enough to complete, but effective enough to make a difference when added up all together. I promise if you complete all 10, you'll work better, focus easier and maybe even reveal a work area you might want to share on Unplggd one day.
The Easy as Heck Unplggd Spring Cleaning Check List:
1. Clean your desktop before anything else: This is the foundation of the overall desk/workspace to-do assignment, because if your desk isn't clean, you won't have a surface to use for clean up and declutter duties for the rest of your workspace. So sort/remove/recycle that stack of mail and miscellaneous items you've had sitting ontop of your desk since the release of the 1st iPad. Three piles: keep, recycle, throw away. Be vicious...trust me, you won't need that LL Bean catalog nor that Zip Drive instruction manual, not matter what the itch in your clutter-loving brain tells you. Then use a surface cleaner specific to your worktop to wipe away the gunk, funk and junk that has accumulated since last spring.
2. Wipe down your mouse, keyboard, handset/cell phone with hand sanitizer: of all the things you do, this might be the most health beneficial of tasks, since all these are germ havens. I like to first use compressed air to blast out any crumbs from inbetween the keyboard keys, then follow up using a cleaning compound like Cyber Clean to remove those stubborn particles that hang on like a kindergartner clinging onto their mom's leg on the first day of school. Finish off using a barely dampened Magic Sponge to gently clean your keyboard and mouse; usually two wipes across each way, followed with a slightly hand sanitizer dampened paper towel as a finishing touch. You'll finally be able to see the letters, numbers and symbols once hidden by the filth accumulated thousands of keystrokes later.
[Intermission: Hey, admit it, your desk looks already 100% better now, doesn't it?]
3. Open your desk drawer: our main desk drawer is our guilty secret, a catch-all for nearly anything and everything that comes into our office. Whether it's a couple spare squares of a chocolate bar, an assortment of business cards of people I barely know collected over the last few months, a scotch tape dispenser with just enough tape left to possibly adhere a piece of rice to a bee's back, and strangely a letter inviting me to join the AARP, I admit my desk drawer has seen better days. And chances are your drawers are dirty too (your desk, not your undergarments). Once again, three piles: keep, recycle, throw away.
4. Bring out the shredder: By now, you've already got a decent pile of paperwork to throw away. But some of these documents, though no longer needed, may contain confidential material you'd rather remain confidential (because someone ordered those Snuggies and there are receipts to prove it). Some people keep a paper shredder out and ready every day, but if you're like the majority, you'll need to set aside a few minutes to destroy all personal matters that have accumulated on and in your desk. Finish by cleaning out the shredder so it's ready for next time.
5. Cables Control: doing what I do for a living, while also being a bit of a tech nerd, I've got more cables than Lindsey Lohan has court summons. That means a lot of potential clutter inside drawers. But using a combination of BlueLounge CableClips, rubberbands and velcro strips, I'm able to keep that snake nest fairly organized. I like to use the CableClips for USB cables I need to use often, while the velcro and rubber bands are used for cables and cords that don't need to be used as often. Finish things off by placing these items specifically into their own labeled and categorized boxes. Somewhere, Martha Stewart just nodded in approval.
6. Clean Connections With A Coffee Filter: this sounds weird, but is really a way to both check and possibly remove any offending debris on your Ethernet cables, USB cables connecting peripherals and any other piece of tech that has been giving you trouble. Just be sure not to use that filter to make your morning brew.
7. Deep Clean your Task Chair's Caster Wheels: I bet your task chair's caster wheels look like a kid's hands after eating powder donuts and playing in the backyard. Once a year, treat your chair to a deep cleaning. The results will be smoother rolling and protected hardwood floors underneath.
8. Invest in a desk drawer organizer: I wanted to make this checklist mostly purchase and product free (except for some cleaners), but I wholeheartedly believe trying to keep a home office desk drawer organized without desk drawers is like attempting to keep silverware in organized fashion without a cutlery tray. Speaking of which, cutlery trays make great tech and stationery organizers. There's something psychologically helpful when designated spaces are created for specific items and desk drawer organizers help maintain order by tapping into this instinct to place object "X" into storage area "X".
9. Avoid using or printing paperwork: as noted in step 1, a leading factor leading to clutter and mess making is caused by the accumulation of unnecessary paperwork. Even if you're great at filing away papers, that's still adding to the task of keeping it all organized. This doesn't even factor the amount of magazines, catalogs, mailings, notes, and other miscellaneous printed matter that almost every desk collects. Consider ditching paper use whenever possible, especially in regards to notes and other temporary reminders. Use your smartphone's ability to jot down reminders, switch over to Google Calendar for mobile and computer access, and wean yourself off the paper addiction.
10. Clean your printer heads: I know I just told you to ditch paper, but the fact is you'll still likely need to use your printer occasionally. But since you're going to use your printer less, this means the printer head may clog/dry up inbetween uses. Finish off your home office spring cleaning by utilizing your printer's cleaning cycle option. If your printer has already dried/clogged up, you can unclog the printer cartridge by adding a few drops of isopropyl alcohol into the ink receptacle of your printer, then run through the cleaning option several times, followed with a few print runs. The isopropyl alcohol will dry off overnight and your printer should be as good as new. Now your home office is cleaner and meaner, from the desktop down to the smallest printer heads!