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Management And Training

Overwhelmed By Life

February 08, 2012
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As we come to the end of one year and the start of another, it''s a good time to look back and forward at the same time.

In this month''s column, I''m going to give you some insight into how I handle and look at being overwhelmed.

The idea is that many of us face overwhelming challenges each day, and knowing how someone else deals with them may be helpful to you.


There is so much available information being circulated today that is difficult to find the time to review, absorb or even file it away for future reference.

One of the keys is to have an organized filing system so information is put in a place that makes logical sense to you so it can be found again for later use.

I just hate it when I know I have a document or piece of information but can''t find it when I need it.

Here''s how I do it: I use both paper and electronic files.

On my computer, in Outlook, I have folders saved alphabetically by the subject matter or sender.

I try to keep up daily with reviewing incoming e-mails and filing them where they are supposed to go.

Probably 95 percent of the e-mail I get is deleted or goes to the trash folder.

I have a robust spam filter and a trigger finger delete button; it''s fast and unforgiving.

If an e-mail subject line or sender name doesn''t catch my immediate attention within three words, it''s gone.

As for paper files, I need and have a warehouse.

If it''s a subject of a technical nature, it goes in the technical file, alphabetically as per the subject.

Examples would be avian flu, disinfection, green cleaning, etc.

It may be old school, but I like to print things out and file them away.

I find that I have a better chance of keeping and finding things if I file them in filing cabinets.

With electronic files, the risk of a hard drive crash, virus or stolen machine is just too great for me to go totally electronic.

I also keep files by book title and subject matter that I''m working on or have written in the past, such as "Floor Care," "How to Sell and Price," "Management," "Carpet Cleaning," "House Cleaning," etc.


There is so much to do that, sometimes, it''s difficult to figure out what to do first.

I try hard to avoid letting myself get in this position — as I find it too frustrating — so, I work hard at keeping my desk clear of everything except what I need to work on right now or today.

My approach is to evaluate each day what is a priority and then do what has to be done; most of the time, this allows me to focus on keeping all the important balls in the air.

However, it drives people around me crazy, as my priorities may change from one minute to the next and I expect them to shift gears and be able to respond to my needs.

Working this way means that it takes longer to get projects completed, as I am working on and moving along with many different projects at one time.

The Future

My focus for some time has been to change the way I do business.

My goal is to focus more on the management of my business and less on the day-to-day operation of my business.

I have taken this so far as to consider moving my office elsewhere so I don''t get caught up in the brouhaha of answering the phone, running to get supplies or answering questions from staff.

I''m referring to this as learning to work on my business, instead of in it.

Letting Go

I can''t do it all, and neither can you.

I now believe that the way to get more done is to actually do less.

What I mean is that we need to delegate more projects to others instead of thinking we have to control everything or every detail of every project.

I know the end result may not be exactly what we had in mind, but I may be the only one knows the difference and, in order to get more done and grow, you have to let go and get others involved in getting things done for you.


I love what I do and I think I do a good job of it, so it is difficult to let go of the pieces and accept less than what I consider to be the best I can do.

But, if I wasn''t here, someone else would be doing it, and maybe they would actually do a better job of it.

In my mind, this is a personal decision that each person has to make.

How do you want to spend your time and what do you want as an end result? Keep it clean out there.

Bill Griffin is president of the International Custodial Advisors Network Inc. (ICAN) and owner of Cleaning Consultant Services Inc. ICAN is a non-profit association comprised of industry consultants with a wide range of expertise in building management, indoor environmental and service disciplines. This network provides free janitorial and building maintenance consultation service to the industry through the Cleaning Management Institute (CMI). Comments to Griffin are welcome: (206) 849-0179;

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