You, My Friend, Need a Life Repair Day!

A few weeks ago, while getting ready for a client engagement, work ground to a halt.  My workspace was cluttered with obstacles…there were books and papers stacked sky-high, my computer was slow, my inbox was overflowing, my printer would not print, and my phone needed an update.  Similar to when you get the flu and Mother Nature steps in and makes you stop…the fates had aligned and I knew I had to do something and quickly.

Clutter Isn’t Just Physical
So much of our life we are running from one project or meeting or phone call to another and we allow “clutter” to pile up.  Whether it is physical (your office desk) or a digital form of clutter (email notifications) excess things in your surroundings can erode your ability to focus and process information.  On top of that, when you have to-do items constantly floating around in your head or you hear a ping every few minutes from your phone, your brain doesn’t get a chance to fully enter creative flow or process experiences. When your brain is overwhelmed and has too much on its plate, it splits its power up.

That’s exactly what neuroscientists at Princeton University found when they looked at people’s task performance in an organized versus disorganized environment. The results of the study showed that clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.  Similar to what multitasking does to your brain, clutter overloads your senses, making you feel anxious and inefficient and impairs your ability to think clearly and creatively.

Your Life Repair Day Needs to Happen This Next Month
So what is an easy solution that can turn your work life around within an 8-hour span?  Well, it’s an easy one, but sometimes those are the best!  Several years ago, a colleague, who is a USC professor, was talking to a childhood friend who told him that life is like a car, and unless you repair it from time to time, it just breaks.  His advice led to the charge that every once in a while you need to block out solid time for a Life Repair Day.  This is a day which would be scheduled on your calendar with no interruptions allowed.  By the end of a life repair day, the following needs to be true:

  • Every one of your emails is answered.
  • Your to-do lists are no longer floating in your brain, but are captured somewhere.
  • Every bill is paid or put in place where you’ll pay it later.
  • Every piece of paper, envelope, and Post-It is in a file or thrown away.
  • Your system of hard copy files is up-to-date.
  • Every text on your phone is answered.
  • Your physical desktop is clear and your computer desktop is free of stray files.
  • Your inbox (literal and virtual) is empty.
  • You have scheduled any needed appointments on your calendar
  • Everything is backed up.
So fast-forward to my life repair day…how did I feel after I took the time to re-calibrate?  Well, first I told everyone I talked to how much I appreciated my quick computer and how awesome it was to actually have a printer that printed!  But, even more than that, I felt energized, more even-tempered, creative and re-engaged.  I got so much work done!

I encourage…no…I challenge you to try it! Just a few weeks ago I heard a CEO bragging to his team about how effective Life Repair Days are for him.  I know it is a full day during a crunch time at the end of the year, but it will be worth it.  As Benjamin Franklin stated, “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.”   Get this scheduled before Thanksgiving and think about how much more efficient you will be in December as a great wrap to 2019!