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Everyone knows about spring cleaning, but for me, the best time to let go of the old to percolate new ideas is right now.

I love the excitement of autumn’s new beginnings. The kids go off to school, the weather cools, the leaves crunch underfoot. It’s time to streamline my files to prepare for four seasons of productivity.

This week, as I made my way through notebooks and folders, I learned some lessons along the way:

Refresh the resume

Reviewing a year of writing helped prime the pump for a resume refresh. Remembering each project while I tidied my files triggered talking points on skills I used for each piece.

I also kept my portfolio in mind, planning for potential selections. I have an important goal this fall: (Drum-roll please!) Launching a website as an online portfolio of my copywriting and magazine features. Stay tuned.

Have great expectations

Revisiting past seasons helped me envision what I want to pursue next. While I sifted through papers, I reread completed projects, recycled old drafts, and considered toss-or-keep. All of that skimming immersed my thoughts in new possibilities.

Stay fluent

Just as I like to brush up on my French (each year from New Year’s Day to January 7), I try to refresh the languages I speak as a writer, especially for technical topics. I write about many subject areas, and taking some time to revisit what I’ve written helps reboot my memory for each subject and its lexicon.

Get a second wind

From reading this post and between the lines, you can probably tell I have trouble letting go. But my September resolution is to schedule an hour each week for office upkeep. (Shout out to time-management guru/Popcorn blogger Susan Szafir for her pointers.)

I’ll save but streamline my notes from the 2011 Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference, where I was inspired by presentations on memoir, nonfiction and young adult novels. I’m also attached to a notebook from classes at Richard Hugo House—I don’t want to reveal how long it’s been marinating in my office—but those food-writing notes of long ago have an impressive shelf life.

Something old, something new, something to savor

As it turned out, putting my desk on a diet filled my cup. As I revisited and recycled, I remembered a great year, made even more so because of creative and compelling assignments—and the satisfaction I get every day from writing.