Clean Out the Swamp


The end of the week is finally here! For some, that means an easier day finishing up whatever remaining tasks require attention. For others, it’s a hectic day to cram in as many unfinished tasks as possible. Regardless of where your day fits into that, there is one simple task that can and should be accomplished at the end of each week: cleaning out the swamp.

In a now famous graduation speech at the University of Texas, former US Navy Admiral William McRaven gave graduates his list of 10 lessons learned as a Navy SEAL. The first lesson that he shared is quite simple:

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”

Navy SEAL Admiral William McRavenMcRaven went on to explain: “It was a simple task—mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that we’re aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs—but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.
If you can't do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”

So what does this have to do with cleaning out a swamp? Simple: at the end of each work week, we need to spend the 5-10 minutes to clean up and organize our desks and workspaces. These areas tend to turn into something resembling a swamp by the end of the week.

Take out the trash, put your pens and pencils back in the proper holder, consolidate and organize paperwork. Put books back on the book shelf, close down all of your computer programs and make the office perfectly ready for a new week.

It’s that simple. The simple task of organizing and cleaning up your desk and workspace does two things for you: first it is a symbolic and mental end to the work week, and secondly, sets you up for productivity at the start of the next week.

Give it a shot, see what it does for you.

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