5 February 2013

Sorting Paper is as Important as Sorting Stock

In the article ‘Simple Steps to Make Your Farm or Home Office More Efficient’ I introduced you to Ross Richards, the Northern Sheep Council Chair.

When I checked in with Ross, things were going really well with his # 1 issue – the home office. Ross and Ruth quickly dealt with Step 1 – Get the right equipment and make sure the layout works. New shelves have maximised a small space, and they’re well on the way with Step 2 – Clean out the clutter and set up good systems. (Step 3 is about how to Maintain the system).

I’d suggested they begin by pile everything into heaps of ‘like with like’ – drafting paper and office equipment instead of animals. We all know how much easier it is to see what you’re dealing with when you sort items (be they stock or paper) into separate categories, but it’s amazing how few do it with office work.

Because Ross works in quite a small space (a converted laundry) he didn’t have a lot of room to completely apply the ‘like with like’ process; the first time takes up a lot of floor space. Instead they began with a useful preliminary step – touch everything and discard the no-longer-needed items.

Now the clutter’s gone they’re about to take the next cut – by sorting into piles. Once everything’s sorted you can not only easily see duplicates and rubbish but also it’s easy to replace things in the most efficient places.

‘What I’ve realised, Robyn, since our first chat and reading your ‘Getting a grip on the paper war’ is that that I didn’t like being in my office – because it was messy. I’d get the mail, dump it on top of everything else (which of course made the problem worse) and walk away. Now it’s a pleasure to sit down with a cuppa, open, process, put away. It’s 3 weeks since the clean up, we’re not perfect yet, but it’s a hang of a lot better. The desk is still clear, we can still see everything, and the whole process is quick and easy.’

(Didn’t we all grow up hearing: ‘A place for everything and everything in its place’? It works!)

I was congratulating him when he interrupted.

‘That’s not the best bit, though. Actually, you’ve caused me a lot of work!’

‘Huh? Is that good?’ I enquired.

‘Yep. I’ve realised that the same poor ‘put-away’ habits apply to my sheds and even my front paddock. I’ll be busy ‘til Christmas cleaning them all out!

‘I’ve always disliked looking at farms with messy front paddocks – posts, wire, equipment and clutter dumped in messy overgrown tangles. Since our first coaching session I realise I’ve fallen into the same bad habit. It’s a real energy drain.

‘Part of my problem is procrastination about completing things. For instance, today I was drenching cattle in the yards built three years ago. Some actions were awkward and frustrating, simply because I’d never done the finishing touches. Of course I’d noticed it before, but now I’m really noticing it. What’s even better, since the office clean up I really appreciate the difference I’ll make once it’s done. Can’t wait to start!’

Parting thoughts on clutter

If things are messy, broken, inefficient or in the wrong place you’ll feel a nagging sense of incompletion. If your space is cluttered you’ll feel tired, stressed, overloaded, ineffective and short of time.

Everything in our space, at a sub-conscious level, reaches out to tug at the corners of our mind. Clean up and you’ll feel not only more energised, but you’ll also feel that you have more time.





Are your days too short, workload too large and work-life balance a pipe dream?

Take a look at these Books, E-books, CDs/Teleseminars, Online Courses/Webinars and Tools. They provide practical, effective and easy to implement ways for you to free up your time, improve your productivity and reduce stress from overload.



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Robyn Pearce CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) is the Time Queen. She mastered her own time challenges and now helps people around the world overcome theirs. She can show you how to transform your time challenges into high productivity and the life balance you desire.

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