Productivity: Don’t Dump On Me

So in my last post I mentioned that my office re-image had unexpectedly produced a valuable new side effect, one that almost instantaneously forced a new habit. And it’s changed my work-flow for the better.

Before, one could very well argue that my work space was a dumping ground. I won’t try to skirt my own responsibilities for a second here: I let a lot of junk build up. But because of the sheer amount of ministries I oversee, and the amount of wonderful staff that work to make all of it happen, “stuff” from those ministries and from those staff tended to deposit itself in my office. Files, mail, packets, notes, promo materials, sales product, signage, forms, passes, office supplies, books, and anyone who “borrowed” my office while I was out of town always let their stuff linger around for a few days after I get home.

But when the office got clean, I noticed everything. Every little paper. The absence of “table space” didn’t allow for any extras. As my dad drilled into me growing up, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” And suddenly, if something wasn’t in its place, I saw it. And it bugged the stink out of me.

This forced a new practice:

Whatever comes into my office leaves with someone or leaves in the trash can.

OPTION 1: THE SOMEONE

My co-workers and staff have heard a new phrase coming out of my mouth lately. “Woah, why are you leaving that here? No, no, no…” And I usher them out. This forces them to use their own filing systems. Not mine. It also has enabled me to delegate much more than I ever have before (a practice which is easy to talk about but very hard to learn). If, however, the item and resulting tasks pertain to me, see option 2.

OPTION 2: THE TRASH CAN

These are my projects. Things I need to do. And my detest of seeing anything pile up in my newly renovated office compels me to tackle the project I’m handed immediately, and then get rid of the evidence. Contrary to my former habits of “I’ll get to that as soon as I’m done with this,” the opposite has happened. The resulting attitude is “Get this new thing done asap so I can get back to my previous task.” While it seems counter productive to my brain, it’s actually decreased the amount of work I’m doing and nearly eliminated the dreaded piles-o-paper.

Among the obvious benefits of a cleaner office, better work-flow, and a stronger handle on enabling my staff to make decisions about things I’d normally make myself, I’ve also found that I’m hoarding less and throwing out more. Asking myself, “Do I really need this sheet of paper? Do I absolutely need these notes?”

The result? Freedom.

For all you hoarders out there, I’ll have one last tip in my next post that has freed me immensely from the grip of collecting stuff.

Is your trash can calling your name? Or do you need to have a chat with your dumpers? I’d love to know! ch:


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  • Miriam Woodruff

    These posts are absolutely great. As I have a new office myself now, I am trying to organize it to be most productive. What you say is soooo true. I am bogged down in the clutter of moving things and have actually found stuff from 2006 ….. Hello! Stuff totally un-needed. I am relating so much with you. I am tired of saying, “Don’t touch my desk, I know where everything is.” Reality is, “I know it’s here somewhere, give me a minute.” Kudos Bro, as things are shaping up there, they are also shaping up here. Same Holy Spirit speaking. Amen. “:0)

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      “Reality is, ‘I know it’s here somewhere, give me a minute.'”

      Wow, thanks for just saying it like it is. That’s been me for SO LONG I’m tired of it! More power to us!

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  • http://www.enterthedoorwithin.blogspot.org Wayne Thomas Batson

    Just don’t accidentally throw away that really cool novel idea you jotted down on the back of a napkin!!!!

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      Ah, but that’s what Scrivener is for! Three cheers!

  • http://mandeewidrick.com Mandee Widrick

    Thanks for the post, Christopher. I have a clutter desk and side table that are calling my name! ((sigh)) This means I probably have to type up a lot of the notes that I’ve let kick around for so long. Oh boy.

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      You can do it! And it feels SO GOOD to de-clutter-fy a space!

  • http://dreamingprincess.wordpress.com Beth

    My desk at both jobs seem to be everyone’s drop of point. And you know what it is time I start saying take care of your own stuff. It’s frustrating to get other people’s junk mixed in with my work.
    You know another way to get rid of Paper clutter? Scan the notes or paper you think you might need someday. It makes things easier to find too.

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      You’re on to something that I’m going to share more in depth on in the next post, Beth. Right on.

    • http://dreamingprincess.wordpress.com Beth

      I like these posts, getting rid of clutter is a necessity to my life and not just my own clutter, some of the clutter I need to get rid of was just dumped on me.
      I simply love how God uses everything to speak to us if we just listen. Even a blog post about clutter. :)

    • reenie

      Not like – LOVE BETH !!!!

  • Crystal Searor

    I’m absolutely getting the feeling that this deep rooted need to “clean house” and reorganize is a trend definetly being set by the Holy Spirit Himself! :) I too have spent the past several weeks first on a fast to seek God’s direction for 2011, but to get focused. The outcome, the overwhelming need to “spring clean” in the middle of January! My office too, has become a collection ground of,”someday I’ll get to that…” piles of good intentions and dreams on reciepts kind of filing. Since I have finally taken the initiative to starighten up the chaos and bring order to my natural habitat I have discovered that God is also bring order into my mind, work and life. At first the task seemed too daughnting to even attempt, but as I remind myself that each small project completed leads to success the mountains scaled down and the productivity finally has begun to flow!!! Yeah for progress, both natural and supernatural!!! Thanks for sharing the success story of overcoming the clutter it’s just the extra kick of motivation I needed Chris!!!

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      This is so encouraging to read! My own spirit echos your sentiments exactly. Rock on!