No More Fires
I know it can be scary lifting up those pages only to find the things you’ve not completed or the things that are overdue. It’s almost easier to just wait until the fire comes and deal with it then.
What if I told you, you no longer have to have any fires? That’s what slowing your pace is all about.
Slowing your pace will require that you clean off your desk daily, but more importantly cleaning it off on your Friday. There are 2 major benefits of doing this: (1) you become organized (remember how that felt?) and (2) you have the opportunity to put out fires before they start.
Process your stacks.
Getting organized starts with processing the stacks, the things you can see right in front of you. Are you starting to hate the word “process” or love it? It’s one of my favorites. Cleaning off your desk will require you to do something with those stacks of papers on your desk. I know some of you have mounds of paper. Let me encourage you, 1st most of the stuff in your stacks are items you don’t have to act on. By now many of those requests have been handled, are old, and possibly are no longer needed.
Now for the unpleasant news, some pages are fires waiting to happen. You know the things you haven’t done, but should have. Don’t allow that stack to sit there any longer, let’s do something with the paper. Like processing your home mail, process your stacks: sort and file it, dispose of the junk and separate the items needing action. These actions will make you unlike the rest, uncommon.
Put out the fire before it’s a blaze.
Underneath those stacks and even mixed within are fires waiting to happen. There will always be fire starters in a stack of paper on your desk. Because normal people have good intentions on getting back to that piece of paper, only to find themselves busy working on something else; then here it comes another piece of paper to add to the stack. Once you add another sheet of paper, the one before it is out of sight, out of mind, no matter how important or critical it is. The stack isn’t going anywhere by itself and it only grows more out of control the less time you spend getting it under control.
The goal is to no longer have stacks.
My goal is to not have any stacks on my desk. I make it a priority to process my stacks. In my position I don’t want to create a bottleneck in my office for the work that my team does. So I have a rule that I practice, it’s called “the one touch” rule. You should handle a piece of paper (or any request, task, email) once. That’s a lesson for another day, but remember this, cleaning off your desk helps you remove the stress of fires that would otherwise certainly be coming your way.
Here’s your opportunity to put to practice this technique of cleaning your desk, processing the stacks and putting out those fires before they start.