Let’s just start off that we all agree we were way too gluttonous over the holidays, and it’s time to clear out the clutter and find the right laser-focus that is going to make 2020 the best year ever.
There is no shame in that. I’m old enough to know that it’s a cycle. We all started racing up a clear highway getting things done and ended up gulping eggnog from a mouse-head glass on a couch in Ellen Grizwold’s living room.
Maybe not all of us, and maybe not to that extreme, but for sure, all of us can always find ways to improve. And January is a great time to take that to heart.
Last week, I had the great fortune of talking to a friend, Wendy Ellin, whose business and passion is to help high-level executives organize their work-lives. Her job — and she’s very successful at it — is to create productive work spaces and processes so her clients can work more efficiently. She’s a New Yorker who gets straight to the point and will tell you exactly what’s holding you back in your workspace and how you can more efficiently push yourself forward.
Since we are all looking for clarity right now, here are a few things that Ellin says every one of her clients have found helpful.
Ellin is a huge fan of keeping a clean E-mail Inbox. A workmate of mine asked her why she thought this was important.
“Do you go to your regular mailbox and only take out what you want? And let everything else pile up?” she said.
She suggests first to sort your inbox by “sender,” then go down the list and delete all the e-mails you no longer need. She strongly suggests just deleting anything over a year old. But, she says that if you absolutely have to hold onto it, create a folder for it and move it out of your inbox. From that point, it’s important to set aside a portion of each day managing, or “processing,” that inbox. This is a small thing, but it will take your inbox from a cloudy, infinite list of to-do tasks, to something clear, succinct and easy to understand.
Ellin also talks about not letting an inability to do something perfectly get in the way of doing that thing at all. For example, all of us have that task we want to accomplish. But we put it off until we have a clear idea of how it will end perfectly. Success lies not in completing a perfect project, but in actually starting the project at all. Annual budgets, planning for a new strategy or planning for a new company position are all things that get put off while we wait until the perfect moment. She says to just put it on your calendar and get started. She reminds me of one of my favorite Vince Lombardi quotes when she talks about the not letting the desire to be perfect get in the way of creating something excellent.
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence,” Lombardi once said.
Ellin also believes we should all make a commitment to never be late. This is one small thing you can do to manage people’s perception of you. Because after all, we earn our reputation either way. Ellin says to schedule travel time on your calendar before every meeting or event so that you arrive on time. And then honor it. If you are the first one there, you can use the time to catch up on managing your inbox, catch up on a task you were involved in, or just plain catch your breath.
Geoff Smith is a mortgage banker with Assurance Financial focusing on residential home loans for refinances and home purchases.
*The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of Assurance Financial Group