It’s Not Too Late for Spring Cleaning
Moving from spring into summer, we experience a lot of change as we get prepared for a new quarter, get out of school, or get into full vacation mode. While summer is a great time to relax and participate in fun activities, it is also time to try something new. However, the end of transitioning into new summer opportunities can be a difficult adjustment for leaders who are hesitant or resistant to change. New positions or experiences can be fun and positive, but they can also be daunting and full of unknowns. Some life transitions that naturally occur at many stages in our lives can cause disruption in our routines that might be stressful or uncomfortable.
When I find myself in a place of transition, I get the itch to metaphorically hit the ‘reset button’. I’ve discovered that cleaning helps me focus during these periods of change. Over the years, the idea of “cleaning” for me has taken on the form of physical spaces or objects, technological data, and even my own mindset. I’ve cleared out old items and clothes, deleted old pictures and emails, and accepted mistakes, allowing me to move on. Clearing out old items or thoughts can be a necessary step in remembering past experiences and preparing for whatever new opportunities are headed my way.
Below are some tips to help you do a little of your own belated ‘spring cleaning’ to make room for new opportunities this summer:
Set the space: When preparing for a new task or challenge, I usually like to set my space up for success first. In this step, I think about what it is that I need and then I remove what might be unhelpful or distracting. This can be as simple as clearing out my email inbox or tidying up my desk. Sometimes setting the space means defining boundaries that help us balance our priorities. Maybe you decide that you won’t answer emails after 5pm on weekdays. Or that you need to move your desk out of your bedroom so that your living space isn’t also your workspace. You get to make these spaces all your own! Having a sense of defined space that is all mine helps me feel grounded in times of uncertainty.
Unpack: From one position to the next, I like to get settled by unpacking my things, determining what to keep, and putting them where they belong. Clearing out a workspace or a locker can mean giving objects away, storing them for another time, or getting rid of them entirely. This is a very concrete and literal way to make space for newness. It’s also important to unpack our brain space. We can do this by taking the time to reflect, evaluating any stress or negativity, and trusting our personal processes. These activities can help reduce anxiety, burnout and fatigue so that we are more receptive to change. “Unpacking”, whether literally or figuratively, allows us to sort and process our past and present so that we can better prepare for the future.
Set goals: With any new adventure, there is the opportunity to set goals for ourselves. Having a vision of the things that we hope to accomplish acts as a guide for us through all of life’s transitions. When we can determine specific and measurable outcomes that we’d like to achieve, we can begin to take actionable steps towards success. As we progress and change, we can evaluate our goals for their relevance and make any adjustments to keep us on course. The goals that we set should be challenging but also achievable, if I find that I am constantly disappointed that I am not reaching my goals, then I know it’s time to rethink my expectations so that I can set myself up for success.
Stay focused: During periods of change or transition it can be difficult to prioritize our time and activities. Summertime might be one of the hardest times to do this. First, make sure to do your job or follow through on your responsibilities, and do them well. Make sure that all of your tasks are completed before engaging in extra activities. It will make your free time more rewarding when your other responsibilities aren’t looming over you. Staying focused helps us to manage our time so that we are better able to take advantage of new opportunities when they present themselves.
Reward yourself: Remember that change is a good thing and a vital part of our growth and development. If you feel stressed or overwhelmed, take a step back and reward yourself for your accomplishments. Plan a day to go to the pool, take a walk outside, or set aside time for your favorite summer activities. We can’t forget to practice self care, taking the time to relax helps us to re-energize and gear up for what’s next.
When we think of ‘spring cleaning’, we usually think of having to tackle the dreaded chores or tasks that we have put off for far too long. We should really think of it as an exciting opportunity to open our lives up to new things, thoughts, and experiences. Don’t put off your spring cleaning until next year, it’s not too late to make way for positive change!
One of the ways that you can get started is by giving yourself the gift of time. Evaluate how you currently manage your time using a model like Stephen Covey’s Time Management Grid or by completing a Time Management Pie Chart to see where you spend your time:
Then, think about how you ideally would like to be spending your time instead. What changes can you make in your life to make that a reality? If you want to spend less time on social media, maybe you create “no phone zones”, like during meetings or meals. If you want to spend more time with friends, set a goal to make plans at least once a week with someone you want to catch up with! These little steps will not only help you to feel more prepared for transitions in your life, but they actually encourage you to make positive changes yourself!
*Meet the Author*
4 yrs with Leadership Inspirations
B.A. in Integrated Educational Studies from Chapman University
M.Ed. in Secondary Education from Regis University
My Favorite Quote: “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” –Oscar Wild
Quick Facts About Me: 1) My dream job would be an SNL cast member, 2) I love to plan parties and 3) I sing in my car like I’m performing a sold out show.