Sunday, January 04, 2009

Cleaning House When the Calendar Turns

It happens every year, usually around Halloween. The overwhelming piles of paper, files, news articles to read, and other minutae from a year’s worth of projects begins to aggravate me. I move them around from left to right on my desk, sometimes buying fancy containers from one of those organization stores to make ti look better. After a month of rearranging and, occasionally, even purging some of the paper with repeated trips to the recycle bin, I start to get serious. I go on all-out binges, saying ‘who needs this?’ to myself or ‘why did I save that?’ and ‘what on earth was I thinking when I stashed this in the drawer?’ and suddenly, the cleaning goes into high gear.

By Thanksgiving I usually move a trash can into my office. This is when the high gear “chucking” begins. After completely purging the paper nonsense of the current year, it’s time to start on the electronic files. Delete, delete, delete, what do I need all this little documents for? Why are there 3 versions of the same release? What on earth are all these empty folders doing here?

Before you know it, it’s December and I have removed the professional dust bunnies and am laying the groundwork for a new year. I can go off and celebrate the holidays with a clean conscience, knowing I am ready for the challenges of the new year. In case you haven’t yet mentally gotten your year started, here are a few questions to ask yourself as you clean house:

1. Does anyone else but me care about this project, paper, document?
2. If this project were in a time capsule, what would happen when it’s opened in ten or 100 years?
3. Do you want to tell your grandchildren about it?
4. Is it worth submitting for an award?

If not, then let the “chucking” begin. Happy New Year!