Fall Systems Checklist

by Productivity

Remember how you were excited to start something new, whether it was a grade, course or school?
Don't get sucked into the same old, same old.
Use this Fall Systems Checklist to clean yourself up and start fresh.

Being a productivity consultant, I go through some of my systems monthly, others quarterly and a few yearly. Most people rarely if ever do this, and get so bogged down in their systems they end up with a bunch of files and crap they don't want, become so overloaded with their email they open up a new account (the worst thing to do) and refuse to break up with Justin. You remember him right? Justin Case? The guy who has us keep all of our stuff we don't need?

Let's start fresh with the fall and spend some time going through our business and personal files for a clean sweep. It may take you a few minutes now, but it will save you time later. Set a Pomodoro (25 minutes) and go through as fast as you can, or spend one week doing one Pomodoro each day for both personal and business. Don't get sucked in too long. Timecap it and move on.

Not all of these will apply to your particular need or business. Extract the ones that do and check off the ones that don't. See, you've already completed some. Doesn't that feel good?


  • Archive all your emails that are still sitting in your Inbox. You don't save all your paper mail on your desk do you?
  • Unsubscribe from newsletters and promotions you are no longer getting value from. Use Unroll.me for a super quick way to do this.
  • Consolidate or delete any folders you don't need or have less than 20 emails in them. Stop getting folder-happy and just use your search.
  • Update your email signature.
  • Spend 10 minutes creating filters and rules to auto-route emails you don't need to see but need to have access to.

Social Media

  • Unfollow the people you no longer care to follow. If you hurt someone's feelings they are putting way too much stock in social media. I only have 19 friends on my personal Facebook page and I like it this way. I'm not digging through the weeds to see the flowers.
  • Update your bios, summaries and profile photos. If you are on LinkedIn, please do not use a selfie. It looks so unprofessional and everyone can tell it is a selfie. Pay a few bucks to have someone take a professional photo or at least have your friend take one with a good camera.
  • Consider which channels you actually use and deactivate your accounts from the rest so you don't get distracted. I have friends who can't live without Pinterest and Instagram but they just aren't for me.


  • Look at your calendar a month out. Are you involved in committees, groups or projects that you feel ‘meh' about? If you aren't excited, resign from the position or start your exit.

Storage – Digital

  • Delete your files you don't need anymore.
  • Get rid of excessive folders that only have a few files in them. Consolidate and use your search.
  • Remove as many icons as you can from your desktop screen. It slows down your computer and is distracting.
  • Delete any applications you are no longer using.
  • Delete anything ending in .dmg. These are download files that are temporary, but can clog up your computer.

Storage – Paper

  • Shred the files and papers you don't need anymore – expired insurance policies, manuals and receipts for items you no longer own.

General Computer

  • Use a system like Dashlane or OnePass to make your passwords secure and stop using your pet or child's name.

Task List

  • Remove any tasks you have had on your list for three months or more. It must not be important. Check it off and move on.
  • Create a task to do this clean sweep at least once every quarter.

Photos – Computer and Phone

  • Delete photos that aren't excellent (really, why do people keep photos that are unflattering?).
  • Delete photos of people you don't care about.
  • Delete photos of places and things that you don't have a story about.

Apps and Programs

  • Remove apps and programs from your computer and phone that you no longer need or aren't using. Frees up storage and declutters your screen.

Receipts and Financials

  • If you aren't already using a receipt-tracking program like Shoeboxed, start doing it now. If you are, go through and categorize and create rules so it is a one-and-done. It takes a few minutes up front but saves a lot of time in the future.
  • Review your expenses and budget for the first part of the year. Is there anything you aren't using, like Sirius or cable, that you can eliminate?

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jim west

Principal and Managing Director, GFF Architects