If you have been taking it easy and want to ease into starting the ‘back to school’ / ‘back to work’ season with focus and zeal, here is a collection of the mini-projects I will be working on for the next little while. I welcome you to join along with me!
Fresh Start Project #1: Clear Off Your Desk
Do you cringe at the thought of someone wanting to do a video chat?Or can’t imaging recording a video with your desk as your background? Are you having trouble seeing the surface of your desk?
Your desk is where you probably spend a great deal of time and sprucing up your environment will definitely help rejuvenate your energy. If this feels like a daunting task, break it up into manageable chunks and do it in 15 minute increments.
- Go through your piles and file, toss, or delegate the paper.
- Throw away pens that do not work.
- Re-stock office supplies.
- Find a place for the things on your desk. If they aren’t used every day, they should not be on your desk. Put infrequently used items in a drawer or cabinet.
- Take a good look at any decorative items. Do you love them? Do they make you smile? Or are they just collecting dust? If it brings you joy, keep it. If it doesn’t, find a new home for it or toss it.
- Give your desk a good wipe down with a damp cloth (or whatever product you would use on your desk).
Fresh Start Project #2: Handle Some Irritants
The concept of irritants comes from Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles, or at least that is where I heard of it. He says that small irritations and distractions have an impact on your mental state.
So deal with the things that are bugging you.
- This could be the squeaky door that needs a squirt of WD40 or the scuff on the wall.
- It could be your stack of unread books that makes you feel guilty every time you look at it.
- Maybe your car needs a good cleaning and you’ve never been able to do a good job on the inside windshield on your own and the streaks are driving you nuts… so look into getting it detailed.
- Replace the light bulb in the bathroom (and maybe clean the light fixture while you are at it).
- Get the sliding closet door back on its track.
Fresh Start Project #3: Clean Out Your Closet
Only have the clothes that fit you, make you look good, and makes you smile in there. Donate the items that someone else could use. Toss the stuff that shouldn’t even be worn pulling weeds in the garden.
Fresh Start Project #4: The Books
Books are my weakness. I love books. But they do tend to create some clutter. My bookcases are sometimes overflowing.
Here are some ideas on how to deal with the books, especially those in your office, but also those on your nightstand or in your cookbook collection:
- Collect them together, if they aren’t already on a bookshelf.
- What has been read and what has not been read? What will you read?
- Which ones should be put away (i.e.: the ones you have read or are not currently using)?
- Which books do not serve you any more and could be donated? (I have a ‘Friends of the Mill’ book store where I drop off my books. Most of the time I drop off more than I pick up.)
- Which books are your go-to books? Put them in a place of priority.
Last week, I shared my list of mini-projects I was going to be working on to get a fresh start in September. I tackled one project a day. It was a short week because Monday was a holiday in my area of the world, so I had an activity for each day, Tuesday through Friday. If you missed it, you can find them on my blog.
Fresh Start Project #5: Email, Photos, Facebook Groups, and Other Online Presence
Now is a good time as any to get your online life in order.
- Email: Create folders. Delete or archive old messages. Unsubscribe from newsletters that aren’t serving you any more; even mine, if you have to. If irritants are sucking up your mental energy, imagine what that folder of unread emails is doing every time you look at it. You can strive for “Inbox Zero”, but in all honesty, I haven’t been successful with that idea.
- Photos: Sort through and file them. Tag them. Back them up onto an external hard drive. One day, you’ll be looking for that picture of the rainbow for your newsletter and you will be thrilled that you tagged it “rainbow” so that it showed up in a search in two seconds.
- Facebook and Other Online Profiles: Take some time to clean things up. Update your business page if you have one. Clear out some Facebook ‘friends’ you have never met or even had a virtual “how are you?”. Leave Facebook groups that are not serving you any more or unfollow them if you just don’t have the time to invest in them right now. Update your LinkedIn profile.
Fresh Start Project #6: Fitness
I am sure you know as well as I do that paying for the gym membership doesn’t do anything unless you show up and do the work. If you have not been attending regularly (like me, oops), look for a class that fits into your schedule and start with just going to that. If you go from the yoga class to a kick-boxing class, fantastic. Right now, I will be happy with making it to one class a week.
If you don’t have a membership at a gym, then do something active like going for a walk for 15-20 minutes and build on it. One of my friends recently started cleaning up her garden. After two hours of weeding and trimming, she felt like a new person.
Fresh Start Project #7: Clean Out Your Refrigerator
I do this project the day before garbage day. This is a full ‘take-everything-out-including-the-drawers-and-shelves’ and ‘evaluate-if-that-product-deserves-a-place-in-the-refrigerator’ project. Wash the shelves, drawers, and walls of the refrigerator. If you feel really industrious, work on your freezer.
Fresh Start Project #8: Work on Your Finances
If a good CEO starts each day looking at business numbers (remember that From OK to AWESOME takeaway?), as the CEO of your life, look at your personal financial numbers. Are there recurring payments to things that you don’t use any more, like Netflix? When was the last time you looked at your credit score? What does your cash flow look like: too much month left after the money is gone? How can you make more money or change your spending habits? Have you been saving for retirement and/or your children’s education? If you have a mortgage, can you increase your payments? What are you doing about your credit card debt?
Fresh Start Project #9: Refresh Your Website
I am not talking about a whole website redesign project here, This is a general review of your photos (do you have new ones?), your About Me page, your Services, and your Home page.
Fresh Start Project #10: Clean Out Your Cupboards
We did our refrigerators last week. This week, hit your pantry. Toss the expired packaged goods. Do you have a can of cranberry sauce that you bought for a turkey dinner and didn’t use? Donate it or find a use for it. Are you keeping that hand-milled whole wheat flour that no one likes for a reason? Your cupboards are valuable real estate in your kitchen. If you aren’t going to use something, get rid of the guilt and get rid of the item. I have a jar of yeast from my “I am going to make bread from scratch” stage… and it has expired. Toss, toss, toss.
And then, after you have cleared things out, wipe down the shelves before you put back the items you are keeping. Restock with healthy foods that make you happy. I splurged and bought a jar of locally harvested honey.
Fresh Start Project #11: Old Project Ideas
What have you been saying you are going to do but haven’t even started? Set aside some time to plan it out and get started. I usually designate the first Monday of the month as my “Get It Done” Day, but any day will do. When you make a plan and take a couple of baby steps, that project that seemed so daunting often gets done more quickly than you expected.
Fresh Start Project #12: Try Something New
This does not have to be something huge like skydiving. Did you see a different fruit or vegetable at the Farmers’ Market? Buy it and make something with it. Or cook something with lemongrass, if you have never done so before. Or get a different beverage at your local coffee shop. Or watch a classic movie you have never seen before.
When you try something new, it boosts your creativity. You may reap new rewards like an increase in confidence or develop a new skill. Shaking up your routine will wake up your brain to new possibilities.
Fresh Start Project #13: Recycle Your e-Waste
Our storage area has become an e-waste cemetery. Dead television, old computers, burnt out laptops and X-Box consoles… These are things we cannot throw out in the garbage. However, there is usually some sort of e-waste collection going on as a fundraiser for some sort of organization. The city I live in also has occasional e-waste collections set up. It is time to clear the space.
Fresh Start Project #14: Try Something New With Your Appearance
I have had the same stand-by lipstick for years: Double Fudge by Clinique. However, it is hard to find. Only a full-service Clinique counter in a big department store will carry it. You won’t find it in an airport counter or in a drug store. On my way to meet with my coach, 8 hours away by air plane, I realized I changed my purse and forgot to transfer my lipstick. I ended up finding a new lipstick that is now in regular rotation with my beloved Double Fudge. If a new lipstick isn’t your thing, try a new hairstyle or a new bag or a new way to apply eyeliner. If it doesn’t work, you can always go back to what worked before.