Did you know that the concept of spring cleaning has deep historical roots? Many cultures and religions have spring cleaning traditions. Persian families deep clean their homes in preparation of their New Year, a 3,000-year old holiday called Nowruz that’s celebrated in spring. Apparently, if you were to visit Iran on the eve of Nowruz, you would see everyone outdoors beating and scrubbing their carpets.
In Jewish culture, deep cleaning is a traditional part of springtime Passover preparations. Passover commemorates the freedom of Israelites from slavery. Because the freed Israelites had to flee Egypt so quickly that they couldn’t wait for their bread dough to rise, the Torah forbids Jews from eating any leavened foods, called chametz, during Passover. Historically, observant Jews have prepared for Passover by getting rid of any foods made with yeast or certain grains and then scrubbing the kitchen thoroughly so that not even a crumb of chametz remains in the home.
Cultural significance aside, it’s easy to see how we’ve come to associate springtime with deep cleaning. You can’t help but think about renewal when new plant life is sprouting and there’s more sunshine every day. Scrubbing your home from top to bottom lets you get rid of the junk and dust that accumulated while you were shut indoors for the winter. Spring cleaning can also be about rearranging things and shaking up the energy in your space. You can make familiar rooms feel a little bit new again.
Time Management Doesn’t Magically Get Easier in the Spring.
While spring is supposed to be a season of rebirth and new beginnings, it’s also a time when a lot of people really struggle with time management and productivity. The burst of motivation inspired by the beginning of a new year has worn off. If you managed to incorporate New Year’s resolutions in your routine, they’re habits by now; if you let your resolutions go, you’ve probably already stopped thinking about them. Meanwhile, summer is still a long way off. Hopefully you’re already making plans to take a week off this summer, but it’s hard to get too excited about a vacation that’s still months away.
Plus, this spring presents its own unique challenges. The situation in Ukraine continues to be horrifying. Just one glance at the headlines reminds you that global tensions are nerve-wrackingly high. COVID is still a very real concern, with a new Omicron variant BA.2 spreading around the world. A lot of people have been feeling slightly out of step ever since the world started opening up again. All of that is happening on top of whatever specific challenges are affecting you and your loved ones right now.
So if you’re having a hard time focusing, getting through your to-do list and making progress on your meaningful goals this spring… know that it’s happening to a lot of other smart and accomplished professionals too.
There’s a lot you can’t control. What you can control is how you approach time management. Think of your time management routine as another piece of your life that needs regular dusting and rearranging.
3 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Time Management Routine
1. Consider starting an information diet.
Like I wrote about in my last blog about managing your relationship with social media, having 24/7 social media access isn’t necessarily a good thing for mental health or for time management and productivity. And it’s not just Instagram and Facebook that are problems—all kinds of media can be distracting and pull your focus away from where you want it to be. Think about decluttering your newsfeed and information pipeline the same way you might think about decluttering your home. For example, if you’re stressed by reading the news all day, can you disable push notifications from your chosen news app and plan to only check headlines once or twice a day?
2. Clean and rearrange your physical space.
Literal spring cleaning can help you clean up your time management challenges too. It’s a prime opportunity to reassess your work space. Make sure it’s set up to draw you into your most important tasks. Is there a different way your desk could be positioned that would reduce your visual distractions? Can you bring in some new candles or pieces of artwork to wake up your senses and make the space feel a little different?
3. Get clear about how your priorities change with the seasons.
Even if your most meaningful goals haven’t changed from fall into winter and now into spring, your priorities probably have. As our schedules and responsibilities shift from season to season, our priorities naturally do too. Think about what your weekly plan is going to look like for the next few months. Looking back on past years, what kinds of priorities typically come up for you in spring? And what are some things that you can do over these next few months to keep yourself in relationship with your goals?
Getting clear about how your priorities ebb and flow is something I talk about in my new video series, Three Keys to Getting Started on the Important Things. If you want more support with time management and aren’t sure how to take the next steps toward your meaningful goals, Three Keys is for you. This is a completely free resource, and the videos are brief enough that you can fit in this training no matter how much is on your plate.
Happy spring cleaning!