Spring cleaning used to be a tradition, especially in colder climates, when folks could finally open the house up to let in a little fresh air and get rid of the accumulated dirt and dust. With the arrival of spring came a new perspective, a bright and fresh outlook both inside and out. Today, with our climate controlled environments, we don't have to go through the same complete turnover, and so we slide from one season to another.

We can still all benefit from a fresh, clean start. You've worked hard all through the last months. Chances are that the "To Do's" and the stacks keep piling up. Yet, you probably haven't stopped to remove all those things that landed on desktops or countertops and are no longer needed but that still remain there, accumulating dust and taking up needed space.

Look at the rooms you are using, both in the office and at home. Start by standing in the middle of your work area and slowly, consciously focus on each thing around you as you turn in a circle. What do you see as you shift your gaze?

If the room is not a place that you are pleased and proud to enter each morning, then consider taking a day to change the look. Yes, I realize that no one has a spare day in their calendar. However, we also know we should prioritize, and the most effective people recognize what a difference an organized environment can make.

How can you start your spring cleaning? Take four boxes or baskets and label them: "Repair," "Donate," "Distribute" and "Discard." Beginning with your office space - start at your desktop and drawers - removing anything that fits into these four categories.

Repair: It still has value to you, but it is not working. It is worth the time and cost to fix.

Donate: It still has value, but you will not be using it; or you have too many of the same things. You can get a tax write-off for the donation.

Distribute: It belongs in another room. Sample items in your work space might include plates and cups on your desk, sweaters lying around or toys from kids or pets in a home office.

Discard: It has no real value to you or anyone else. Objects might be outdated or broken and not worth fixing. Papers might include old receipts, expired coupons or magazines you are not going to read.

After you're removed the extraneous items from your desk area, move in widening circles around your desk. Finally, you'll reach the corners of the room. Then continue on into the closet storage areas. Do this room by room.

Once the visible areas are cleared, you might consider looking over your files. We tend to file far more than we will ever need, and when we do need a certain paper, we often cannot find it. The Paper Tiger filing system is one way to ensure that you will find what you file. It comes with a report that allows you to quickly determine what to clear out of your file cabinets on a routine basis.

What can you expect from a spring cleaning?

• The room is pleasant to enter.

• Your desktop, shelves and tabletops are neat.

• There is no clutter stacked in the corners.

• Files aren't bulging and overflowing.

• Knick-knacks and photos are not scattered around.

• You do not leave fingerprints in the dust on items.

• No obstacles are in your path as you walk around.

• Visitors compliment you on your organized rooms.

With a cleaned-up space, not only can you gain back the "lost" day of organizing by being able to find things quickly or work more efficiently, but you will also be adding hours over the next months with your newly acquired efficiency.

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Denise Landers is the author of Destination: Organization, A Week by Week Journey. She helps businesses and individuals accomplish more with productive office systems. Reach her at (602) 412-3876 or dlanders@keyorganization.com.

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