Last Friday was the day after Thanksgiving – one of my favorite days of the work year. Federal employees either work or use annual leave (vacation) if they want to be off on that day. Usually, those employees who work that day are allowed to leave an hour early. So, it is unusual to actually have to work the entire day.
But, all of that has nothing to do with why I loved to work on that particular Friday. In fact, on that day I usually worked many more than the required number of hours. One year, I worked until nearly 10:00 pm. Let me share why.
Many folks are busy that day, so, I could count on not getting any phone calls and very few emails. Because our administrative staff members were on leave, the normal distribution of mail was not made. Another distraction eliminated. And, most other staff members were home. The entire day was cleared for me to do as I desired.
I wore comfortable clothes, no business suit and heals on that Friday. Before leaving the house, I packed a bag with a sandwich, some snacks, extra diet Cokes, a box of large zip lock bags and a couple of favorite CDs. As soon as I got to the office, I popped the CDs into the player and made my way down the hall to get the extra-large shredder and a couple of trash bags. Today was my day.
You see, like many of you, my work space would get overwhelmed by orphaned projects and abandoned paperwork. My desk drawers had become unkempt, containing “stuff” that I had put there during “emergency” desk clearings. I had personal filing (electronic and paper) that needed to be done. And, my bookshelves were cluttered and crowded.
On that marvelous Friday, I would dive into every crevice of my office. My desire was to never do any “work” that day but to organize my space. At the end of the day:
- my outbox was packed with tasks or materials for others,
- recyclable items had been boxed,
- large bags of shredded documents were ready for pick-up,
- “orphan” office supplies had been organized in zip lock bags,
- filing was either done or at least better organized,
- bookshelves were no longer cluttered,
- and, all surface areas were clear and clean.
It is amazing to me that leaders too often forget to take care of their own work areas. We get overwhelmed with “stuff” and it can be frustrating. I had a boss who let things get so bad that twice a year his staff would clean out his office. We would get old projects back with a note from his staff that read “If this is important, please update and resubmit.”
So, find that day. Get the cleaning gear that you need. Ask for help if you need it. And, then, get at it and get it done.
“Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8)