[2 Minute Read or Listen Below]
Have you ever been so lost in the weeds you lost sight of the bigger picture? At some point, I think we all have. And while attention to detail is important, too narrow a focus often comes at the expense of the greater goal.
I frequently work with clients who have accumulated a lot of paper in their offices. Their desks are barely visible beneath a layer of documents and random bits of paper meant as reminders, and they have numerous file cabinets bursting at the seams. The client feels stressed and overwhelmed, frequently misses deadlines, and often logs into meetings unprepared. All because they can't find the information they need when they need it. Yet almost without exception, their first inclination is to dig into those file cabinets to "clean them up."
Statistics show 80% of what we keep we never use. I explain that focusing on the bursting file cabinets may not be the best use of our time. If we address the largely unnecessary backlog first, new information continues to come in and piles up on the desk. The bigger goal of a functional and productive workspace remains unaddressed. First, we need to set up systems to handle the incoming information. Then, if it makes sense, we can turn our attention to those file cabinets.
The same goes for email. It's not unusual for clients to have thousands of unread emails in their inboxes. When they seek help to reign in the chaos, they believe it will take endless hours of sifting through the accumulation. But what is true for file cabinets is also true for email inboxes. My first recommendation is to determine how far in the past they regularly pull information to complete active projects and put any messages before that time into a folder.
I recommend this method because it allows the messages to remain searchable on the off chance the client needs the information in the future. I also recommend it because the rapid drop in that annoying little "unread" number that stares at them next to the word "Inbox" provides a tremendous sense of relief. It frees up the mental bandwidth to receive guidance about managing email more effectively.
No doubt, you've heard the saying that small, consistent actions over time lead to big results. And I do believe that's true when the actions move you toward a bigger goal. But miring yourself in unnecessary minutia leads to wasted time and frustration. Whether the focus on minutia results from perfectionism, avoidance, or lack of clarity, the result is the same. You waste your time, energy, and attention on activities that don't bring the result you want.
Avoid activities that rob you of your time and don't help you make progress. Instead, focus on what truly brings you closer to your goals.
If you would like to free yourself from paper piles, be less stressed and be more productive, get your productive environment score now at www.newpathpro.com/scorecard. It takes less than five minutes and you’ll also receive the 1-page Office Transformation Blueprint.