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27 Ways to Leave Your Clutter

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Here we are in the information age, with the Web, podcasts, ezines, email, and texing. So why is your workspace still a disaster? To reduce the clutter surronding you, professionally and personally, here are observations and tips to get you on the road to recovery:

Information Intake
* Accept that more information is generated daily than you’ll ever assimilate.
* Delegate some of your reading by providing your designated readers with a list of key words and parameters.
* Read every second or third issue of your key publications.
* Strip down vital information to its least voluminous form.
* Manage the scraps of life and work.
* Use any online aggregaters that filters information for you.

Creative Filing
* Break down horizontal piles. Rediscover the top of your desk.
* Create a tickler file for items you want to retain but don’t know where to file. Let the “due” dates be your guide.
* Use creative labeling such as “check after the new fitness center is completed,” “looks important,” or “review in August.”
* Avoid stuffing your physical systems such as filing cabinets and desk drawers.

Magic questions
* Ask, “Will this make a difference?” when you encounter information.
* Ask, “What do I need to accomplish to feel good about leaving today?”

Speed up Snail Mail
* Retain the return address labels of those who have sent you hard copy mail. Use them as your address label back to them.
* Order a stamper that includes your name, phone, and email address.

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Reducing Unwanted Solicitations
* When making a purchase by phone, or mail, inform the vendor that you do not wish to have your name added to any type of mailing list.
* Have your administrative staff send form letters to remove you and your staff from junk mail lists. Keep your environment clutter free.

Magazines, Journals, and Periodicals
* Immediately strip down the publications you receive – tear out or photocopy those articles or passages that interest you.
* When magazine subscriptions expire, don’t renew. Wait to see if you miss the magazine. If you don’t, you’ve saved money and time.
* If you do miss a magazine, then re-subscribe. The publication will take you back – in many cases you’ll even receive a better rate.

Higher Order Issues
* Stop focusing on CYA strategies and start focusing on what will propel the  organization forward. “Am I sending this because it has recognizable valuable or because I want to be noticed?”
* Focus on spectacular results not appearances.

Group-wide Strategies
* Look for ways to eliminate one form, or one line of one form.
* Train each other to stop cc’ing each other by responding:
“I’m not sure why I received this.”
“Please explain the ramifications this has for my department.”
* Include no more than four parties cc’ed per e-mail.
* Appoint a group reader or cloud manager, for publications and information, who posts general news/messages to reduce e-mail clutter.

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About the Author:
Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" and the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit for more information.