Lets face it, when your email mailbox is overflowing with emails that haven’t been read or actioned even for just a day it can be very overwhelming. And on top of that, how often have you needed to find a document that you have worked on, only to find that you have several different versions of the same thing, saved in multiple locations (and most likely you have also printed said documents multiple times as well!!!)
Let me introduce you, or perhaps even remind you of the 5S Method. Put simply, there are 5 steps that involve going through everything in a space, deciding what is necessary and what isn’t, putting things in order, cleaning and setting up procedures for performing these tasks on a regular basis:
Set in Order
Perhaps the first thing that you could do to get you in the groove of decluttering is to focus on your physical workplace. Start by removing everything from your desk and giving your desk a good clean.
Sort – Assess each item that you have removed from your desk. Place only the items that you need every day within arms reach – phone, keyboard and monitor and other essential work supplies.
Ask yourself when you pick something up “Does this have a purpose?”
Set in Order – Arrange those things with a purpose so that they can be easily located when you need them.
Shine – clean your workspace at the end of every day. Some workplaces have a clean desk policy at the end of the day, especially those workplaces that are public facing, have shared desks or are co-working spaces.
Standardise – If you and your team develop a regular routine for steps 1 to 3, it will be easier to maintain and everyone will take ownership of the space that they work in. By establishing a particular standard, it will become everyone’s responsibility.
Sustain – step back and assess your workspace from time to time and recognise the signs of clutter – and start all over again (before it gets too out of hand)
Sort – Assess each email in your mailbox . Get rid of all of the messages that are old and obsolete. Don’t keep messages that will never be responded to. Save attachments if they are needed.
Set in Order – Remove as much as you can from your inbox by setting up a folder structure based on “buckets” of work. Don’t make it too complicated so that you can’t find anything later. You can also set up these folders as yearly folders and archive them each year.
Shine – you can continue to clean up your emails by unsubscribing to “junk mail” emails and blocking spammers when they drop into your inbox
Standardise – set up some rules on how you will manage your inbox going forward. Decide if you need to:
Sustain – regularly audit your mailbox and assess if the rules that you have developed are working. Make any tweaks that you need and keep auditing until it becomes second nature.
Sort – Assess the documents that you currently have saved. Keep only the most current version of a document, or if you need to keep old or previous versions, develop a naming convention so that you can differentiate the different versions of the same document.
Set in Order – Set up a folder structure based on “buckets” of work (if you have already done this for your emails, consider replicating the same structure). Don’t make it too complicated so that you can’t find anything later. You can also set up these folders as yearly folders and archive them each year.
Shine – you can continue to clean up your electronic files by getting rid of unnecessary documents at regular intervals.
Standardise – set up some business rules on how you will conduct your records management going forward. Decide if you need to:
Sustain – regularly audit and assess your files and if the rules that you have developed are working. Make any tweaks that you need and keep auditing until it becomes second nature.
The secret to a good declutter is to be realistic in the expectations that you set and be consistent.
It will become second nature if you keep following the 5S Method.
If you need any assistance in achieving a decluttered online workspace – please contact me to have a chat.