Eliminating Clutter: The Sequel
De-cluttering Your Life: The Sequel
by Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE
Want to know a good way to simplify your life and expand your horizons? Go through your files and toss out at last half of them.
This has been my task over the Memorial Day weekend, as my family and I get ready to move (across town). What I dreaded was the onerous task of cleaning up my office—and specifically going through file cabinets that I knew harbored dead and decaying information, thoughts, ideas and articles.
Fortunately the task was made easier since I had spent quality time three years ago with my organizational coach, Kathy Paauw, in setting up an outstanding filing system. [See previous Daring Doctors article, Creating Work-Life Balance, Part II: Eliminating Clutter. I highly recommend Kathy, and if you contact her, be sure to tell her you are a “Daring Doctors” member for a special “get organized” program for docs.]
Three years ago when I did my first major de-cluttering I noticed a big thrust forward in my business. What I am noticing now just in the past two days of pruning files is a refinement of my thinking.
Here are three lessons I learned in this process, which I propose could be lessons for you as well, once you take on the challenge of simplifying your files, your office, your life, your thinking.
|Lesson #1: Trust that I will continue to create and invent my own personal journey along a life “theme.”
I decided to trash copies of articles I wrote more than 2 years ago–no matter how clever I thought I was at the time! Even if the insights are relevant today, holding on seemed like an obstacle to creative thinking in my here and now. There is no need to cling to a path I thought was “it” 5 years ago, or even 2 years ago! What is more important to notice are the subtle “themes” that have been consistent within my creations, projects, and business relationships. For me, the themes that have been constant are: big-time change, personal leadership, and spiritually-based living.
|Lesson #2: Solid ideas and principles are worth rereading and revisiting over and over again.
While I tossed tons of articles that were relevant for their time, my file that is marked “strategic business concepts” continues to fatten. It is no surprise since I have retained copies for client use of a core set of about 10 choice articles. The authors of these pieces are some of the giants in business, philosophy and spiritual thinking, with many of the articles dating back 15 to 20 years. [In a future Daring Doctors newsletter I will share this list with readers.]
|Lesson #3: If I didn’t get it at the conference, I won’t get it later.
Among my many files in the recycle bin now are notes and handouts from numerous conferences I attended over the past three years. I recall that the conferences were excellent and the speakers, some of the best I’ve heard. However, I realized that I already absorbed what I was going to absorb. There are only a handful of strategies or tactics I can glean from any one source, in one sitting— much less incorporate in a 6 month timeframe. I made a quick mental inventory of the one pearl I retained AND integrated from each meeting, conference or session, and then heaved the papers into the bin.
I encourage you to devote a day to cleaning out your office and files. It’s powerful way of pruning your professional life down to the essentials that are most important and relevant to you; this way the best parts of you can now grow unencumbered.