Harvey Mackay: Clean up the office, then clean up with sales

  • Article by: HARVEY MACKAY
  • April 7, 2011 - 8:59 AM

Spring-cleaning is not just for your home or garden. Do yourself a favor and spruce up your office, your calendar, your brain -- anything that will improve your productivity and your outlook.

If you are one of those people whose office looks like a disaster area, but maintain that you can find anything whenever you need it, you'll probably dismiss my advice. If you are that good, you don't need it.

Just like we layer on winter clothing, we seem to add winter layers to our office messes. But after this brutal winter, welcome signs of spring are emerging. If you really want your spring cleaning to be effective, you need to follow the lead of new seedlings poking through the soil and make room for fresh thinking and creative ideas.

Sweep up the dust. Spring is a great time to organize your thoughts and reassess your priorities. Examine your goals and chart your progress. Things not moving along the way you'd like? Stuck on an idea that just won't work? Erase the slate. Solicit opinions from trusted advisers and co-workers.

Wash the windows. What's clouding your perspective? If you are sizing up your workload with a jaded attitude, you might as well be in a dungeon. Lighten up! Just as there are boring or difficult tasks in every project, there are redeeming features. Look for them and see if your outlook doesn't get brighter.

Clear out the cobwebs. The little pesky annoyances that get in the way shouldn't monopolize your time. Don't let distractions like junk e-mails or unnecessary meetings overwhelm your schedule. Set ground rules for when you will be available for non-emergency matters, and stick to them.

Scrub 'til it sparkles. Your workplace needs to be welcoming for customers whether it's your showroom, a doctor's office or an auto-repair shop. Functional is not enough, and new is not necessary. Clean and tidy leave the impression that you pay attention to details.

Pull the weeds. Cut the clutter and free up space for current projects. Your computer hard drive, bookcases and filing cabinets are great places to start. Is your filing system as efficient as it needs to be? Are you a candidate for the office version of "Hoarders"? Dedicate an hour a day to culling the piles of paper. Keep at it until you are caught up. Don't forget to recycle!

Put things away. Keeping stuff just for the sake of storing it gets out of control before you realize it. If your space is starting to resemble a souvenir shop instead of an office, you need to get serious. Practice this mantra: a place for everything and everything in its place.

Touch up the paint. Is your branding up-to-date? Your website current? Call your company and listen to the phone message. Would it entice you to call again or make you hang up in frustration? Your image should keep up with your newest products and developments, especially your social media and new-technology applications.

Plant some seeds. Have some ideas for new projects, new customers or new procedures? Introduce them now. Start a "spring ahead" campaign. This time of year represents new beginnings, so encourage your staff and co-workers to join the effort by submitting ideas of their own.

Change the batteries. We're reminded to change the batteries in our smoke detectors when we turn the clocks forward. If your personal battery needs to be recharged, take a break and enjoy a change of scenery. Spend some time doing something just for fun, either by yourself or with your co-workers. Don't get stuck in the rut of all work and no play.

Open the windows and breathe in the fresh air! Mark Twain fans will recognize this assessment from Tom Sawyer: "It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want -- oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!" Harness that optimism and watch you and your company blossom!

Mackay's Moral: Heavy lifting is not necessary to lighten your outlook.

Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman and author. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or send e-mail to His column is distributed by United Feature Syndicate.

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