It’s a new day. I love the optimism associated with that. Just like the document where I have begun typing, it is blank, clean, bright and full of optimism and potential. Only we rarely approach each day with this type of optimism. We reserve it for New Year’s Day, new jobs, new beginnings. We almost need permission to get organized and start anew. But, what if we didn’t wait for a reason to do so? What if we committed to regularly creating a blank slate for ourselves so that we were able to concentrate on being the best leader to our team, serving our clients in the best way and growing our business?
The idea of a blank slate is underrated. Our roles in our firms get so overwhelming in no time at all and we find ourselves overwhelmed with email and meetings, family responsibilities and countless corporate and social obligations with no real end in sight. Sound familiar? Instead of working to achieve big goals and create breakthrough ideas, we are just trying to make it through the day. This is the story I hear from clients, colleagues and other executives so often. How can we be the best possible leader if we are barely making it day to day? How can we break out of this cycle?
I have a simple plan that may be worth a try. It will take a little work and some maintenance, but the rewards are sweet. You can start this today or any day. When you need a boost, refresh and repeat for maximum effectiveness. The steps are as follows:
- Refresh with clean start.
- Surround yourself with productivity boosters.
- Create processes to keep it up.
Step One: Refresh with a clean start.
Set aside two solid days (or more if needed) in the office to declutter your office with no interruptions. Create file labels, discard unneeded papers and create a clear workspace. This is immensely powerful for keeping you focused on the most important tasks at hand. Only keep the things you need. Do the same for electronic files and emails. Clean it out. Create email folders for top clients, recurring categories and begin with a clean slate. If you need help, ask for it. This is a very important step in the process. How can you focus on the most important things if you can’t even find your mousepad? When you feel you have a clean physical space, it is time for step 2.
Step Two: Surround yourself with productivity boosters.
In your clean space, it is now time to surround yourself with those things you need to keep yourself focused and productive. Top client files, new pens and sharpened pencils and a list of your firm’s top goals are all examples of productivity boosters. Again, be selective and remove things that do not serve a daily purpose in your space. I like to have a large sketch pad, freshly sharpened pencils and my planner within arm’s reach. What you need is up to you. Schedule recurring meetings with your team, schedule top client meetings, block important conferences and events now so you are not in reactive mode. Now, you have a blank slate.
Step Three: Create processes to keep it up.
Maintenance is next. I have found that setting up processes and calendaring the maintenance makes all of the difference here. Regular office de-clutter blocks, setting an inbox maximum and regular email clean out and filing sessions will help you stay on track.
Step Four: Repeat.
When clients of mine have gone through this exercise, they always remark on how they were able to focus on the important things and be a better leader as a result. We rarely equate our level of organization with effectiveness but we should as they are very much interdependent. Do you want to feel invigorated, energized, focused and effective? Start with a blank sheet. When you get in the hang of it, help others do the same.
About the Author
Angie Grissom serves as the President of The Rainmaker Companies, a leading provider of alliance, consulting, and training services exclusively for the Accounting Profession.She is passionate about the current and future leadership in the accounting industry and pushes firm leaders to build firms that empower people and have strong future leaders and unmatched client service. She encourages leaders to think outside the box and have a focus on getting results.