Money Matters

How to declutter your work life this new year

Here we are again. Another year and another round of New Year’s resolutions. For many of us, this is the year to declutter. We want to, once and for all, clean out our closets and get rid of the things we don’t need at home. But why stop there? What about decluttering at work?

After all, the workplace is generally where you have to deal with the most “stuff.” How often are you bogged down with the mundane details of your job and wonder why you didn’t accomplish what you really wanted? For most of you who work in construction, things will naturally be chaotic. But are there ways to control the chaos so you see the best results for your hard work? Many experts say yes. Here’s how:

  • Focus on what matters most. Business executive consultant and author S. Chris Edmonds recommends you “create space for ideas and actions that matter.”* That means carving out time each day or week to identify and act upon what truly drives success in your career and for the construction company you work for. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a good place to start zeroing in on what’s important. Tim Wilson of BKD, in his recent blog, suggests keeping your list of construction KPIs short and continually challenging them.
  • Slim down meetings. If you’re finding it hard to find time to think and act more strategically, look no further than your meeting calendar. Granted, some meetings are a must. But chances are most of the meetings you attend are either not necessary, don’t require your participation, or could be conducted in much less time. Reserve your meetings to those that require strategic discussion and decision making. Information sharing itself isn’t a good reason for holding a meeting and can often be handled more efficiently through email, social tools, and project collaboration software.
  • Throw out unnecessary steps. Many of us fall into the trap of “this is how we’ve always ” This year, take a fresh look at how you work, what you should stop doing, and what you can automate. Join others to reevaluate your company’s broader practices by conducting a process walk. You might be surprised at how much of your current responsibilities can be streamlined, giving you time to focus on more meaningful work.
  • Get rid of the paper. You can’t declutter without mastering the tons of paper that comes across your desk. Look for ways to manage the storage, routing, and retrieval of invoices, lien waivers, RFIs, and other construction documents.

Unfortunately, only eight percent of us will accomplish our New Year’s resolutions. But there are ways for you to keep your promise to declutter your work life, as well as achieve any other work goal. A recent article on provides “The secrets to keeping your New Year’s resolutions.” While focused more on achieving personal goals, the article’s advice can be easily translated to work:

  1. Break your resolution into smaller goals set throughout the year.
  2. Start every morning by reviewing your goals to keep them front-of-mind.
  3. Learn from people who’ve already achieved your goal.
  4. Create a plan for dealing with setbacks.
  5. Have an accountability partner (most likely your manager) and send regular progress reports.

Here’s to the New Year and getting the most from life, both personally and professionally!

*Twitter, @scedmonds, March 2016