Ever wish you could clone yourself to get everything done? Or longed for just a few more hours in your day so you could actually relax? The battle against time never seems to end. Here’s a great excerpt about time out of Do Less Achieve More by Chin-Ning Chu, who was a bestselling author and world-renowned business consultant.
“Time is too short, too long, too boring, too hectic; time flies; time drags; we are late, we are early; we try to buy time, we waste time. We try to manage and control time, but more often than not, time is in control of us.”
Clear the Clutter
Chu’s book has a whole chapter devoted to making peace with time, but here is just one nugget of wisdom about how clearing the clutter in your work environment can help you stay more focused and make better use of your time. Chu was meeting a top executive and noticed that he didn’t have any papers on his desk or anywhere in his entire office. When she asked him about it he told her: “You should never touch the same paper twice. Once you have touched it…handle it, file it, or throw it away.”
The executive went on to explain his filing method. Now granted, in today’s digital world this has probably changed from the physical desktop and filing cabinets to the computer desktop and digital files, but the method still applies. His method was to have three file folders: A for moderately important papers, B for less important, and C for least important. Every week, he threw away all of the papers in folder C. Then he moved file B to C and file A to B. Over time, all of his papers were handled.
The executive explained to Chu how he came up with this method. Earlier in his career, he worked for a boss who kept mountains of papers on his desk. So one day, he decided to remove one of the piles and hide it to see if his boss would notice. A month passed, and his boss never missed it. He then brought that pile of papers back and took away another pile, and the same thing happened: his boss never missed the papers. Basically, his boss was using his desk as a filing cabinet.
The problem with clutter is that it creates a chaotic work environment, causing us to lose focus. Chu explains, “We are sending our minds the subconscious message that we have more to do than we actually do. Our mind becomes agitated by the overwhelming volume of the paper on our desks and consequently, is not sharp and precisely focused on the immediate task that is before it.”
So even if your desktop now is your computer screen, take the time to keep it clean and you’ll be able to focus better. If you’ve let the clutter build up and you’re too busy to tackle it on a given day, you can always create a folder labeled “Sort” and put the files in there. Later, when you have more time, you can go back and file away the documents, but it will clear the clutter for the time being. Or, maybe, as the executive discovered, you will never need those files again.