Working with Clients to Declutter Time
Spring is here… and so is spring cleaning! But have you ever thought of spring cleaning applied not just to your house and garage but to your time? Your calendar? Your list of responsibilities? 

Written By Robert E Logan

Christian Coaching Pioneer, Strategic Ministry Catalyst, Resource Developer, Empowering Consultant : Logan Leadership

Declutter is a great metaphor to use with your clients when it comes to helping them free up the time to do what only they can do. You know that they don’t just organize their time, update their responsibilities, and delegate tasks ONCE… they need to do it AT LEAST once a year. It’s a topic you’ll return to again and again as you coach people. 

Spring Cleaning!

Our time becomes cluttered just as our garages become cluttered. You clean it, and then over the course of the year, you somehow accumulate more things. They seemed like good, useful things at the time—things you might need. Some were helpful, but others collected cobwebs. So you go into the garage in the spring and tidy things up. 

Declutter Your Time

But how do we usually tidy things up? We stack boxes on shelves against the wall, but we don’t go through the boxes. We collect like items together—like rakes, shovels, brooms, etc.—and store them on hooks. We add more hooks when needed… because we probably have a half-used packet of hooks somewhere in one of those boxes. We collect all of the electronics, batteries, etc. that need to be recycled and put them in the same bin, but we don’t get a date on our calendar to empty that bin anywhere. At least it’s organized now though, right? 

Not really. You can see where this is going. This type of cleaning, even when done faithfully every year, doesn’t get you a nice garage with empty workspaces and extra space. It just slowly becomes more and more cluttered… even if that clutter is arranged in piles. 

6 Spring Cleaning Steps to Free Up Your Time

spring cleaning your calendar

What’s the goal of spring cleaning in the garage? Not tidying the stacks and piles, but actually going through each box and category and deciding what to get rid of. Here’s a process to follow, applied to your time:

1. Pull everything out

Watch any organizing show on HDTV or Netflix and they will always start by pulling everything out—even the things you want to keep. 

When it comes to organizing your time, start by pulling out your calendar. Everything needs to be evaluated. That includes family time, time to connect with God, sleep, exercise, etc. Some of these things may actually need more time than you are currently devoting to them now.

2. Sweep

You want a clean slate for your vision. Here’s the time to consider purpose. What do you want? With everything cleared you can organize to best meet your current needs. In the garage you might designate a workspace for carpentry or organize an easily accessible collection of camping supplies all in the same place. The point is to decide on the vision and begin by setting aside room for doing that well. There won’t be room for your purpose if you just cram as much stuff as possible into your space. 

Set aside the time you need for what you really want to accomplish. How much time do you need for family at this point in life? If your kids are grown, that may be less than you used to need. How much time do you need for exercise? That might be more than what you’re getting. Start by putting back the important things first and seeing how much time they require to do well. 

3. Look at what else you have left

The driveway is still full of items that have not yet been put back in the garage. It’s tempting to start Tetris-ing everything into storage but that will result in clutter that will crowd out your purpose pretty quickly. Instead, sort everything into categories.

Make a list of everything else you used to do that you haven’t yet put back in your calendar. Get ready to ruthlessly sort your time into three categories: Toss It, Donate It, Keep It.

4. Toss It

Some of it is junk. Throw it away. Clear it out right away so it doesn’t end up back in a corner. Schedule an extra trash day if you need to. 

There is junk in your calendar too. Some of the things you’ve been spending your time on aren’t really getting you where you want to go. They’re just taking up space and you’re doing them because you’ve already been doing them. It’s time to say no to some people. Call them up and cancel. Don’t be guilted into time-wasters. During this inventory you might also run across some hobbies that you used to enjoy but you haven’t in a while and the proof is in your gear collecting dust. If you’re not benefiting from it, free up that time for something else. Seasons change, and you are free to stop investing in something just as much as you are free to start investing in something new. 

5. Donate It

Many of the things left over are perfectly good. Don’t hold onto things that are still good or useful but aren’t in line with your current goals. You have gardening gear and a leaf blower and a lawn mower, but in the last few years you have xeriscaped most of your yard. Your gardening gear is perfectly good… to someone else who has different goals. Donate them. A trip to Goodwill will free you up as well as help others in need.

For your calendar, the parallel of donating is delegating. Some of what you’ve been doing is quite valuable and needs doing… just not by you at this stage of life. That means God must be calling someone else to do it. You can help facilitate the growth of others by developing them to take part in important tasks that need to be continued and handed down. Don’t hoard tasks that could help in the maturing of others. 

6. Keep It

As you clean, you might find an old set of weights. That is actually something you’ve been wanting to do. Now that you have gotten rid of the junk and donated the gardening gear, you have space to set up your weightlifting gear. 

After saying no to time-wasters and delegating some tasks to help develop others, you will be able to see things of value more clearly. Some of the other items you had taken off your calendar are things you actually do want to spend more time on. Maybe you need more downtime alone or more relational time with friends. Or maybe you have a hobby you really enjoy. Now you have the margin to fit some of those items back into your days more effectively. 

Resources

Do you have a client who is struggling to let go of tasks? This Effective Delegation Skills Builder found on the Logan Leadership website helps people recognize when they need the assistance of others and how to learn to trust them with delegated tasks.

Spring Cleaning is often the result of being fed up or actually needing the space. Similarly, the need to delegate often comes up as the result of action planning of fresh vision. If you are in the action planning phase, download our FREE Action Planning Worksheet to walk your clients through the SMART goals process.

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Cover Photo by Eric Rothermel on Unsplash

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