by Angela Counsel
Following on with this month’s theme of organisation, here are some tips on how to keep your workspace clear of clutter, junk and well….stuff! Remember a tidy workspace means a tidy mind. It’s true. Even some scientists reckon it’s so.
Researchers at Princeton University in the US found that when your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus. It also limits your brain’s ability to process information AND distracts you.
So if you are trying to run a business, or you’re working for someone else and you need clarity for creativity or you seem to be having trouble focusing when you’re at your desk, look around you.
Does your workspace:
- overflow with knick knacks, stationery and/or paper?
- give you a sense of calm and clarity as soon as you sit down? Or is it more like chaos and anxiety?
- have dedicated spaces for things such as files, stationery and decor? More importantly, are those dedicated spaces actually used to store and place those items?
If you’ve answered yes to one or more of those questions, it’s time to declutter your office. Here’s 5 ways to get started.
1. Set time aside for the declutter project when you can’t be interrupted.
It’s very tempting to get sidetracked or answer that phone or check your emails, but if you don’t focus on the decluttering task at hand, it will never get done AND you’ll end up with a bigger mess than when you first started. If you have an office at home, do it at night once everyone is in bed or first thing in the morning before they get up and before you start receiving business emails and calls. If you work for someone, set time aside in your lunch hour to do it and make it clear you’re not to be interrupted.
2. Have a placement strategy for the clutter
By that I mean know what you’re going to do with it all. Are you throwing things out? Are you filing documents? Are you shredding anything? Are you recycling? Make sure you have set some boundaries in place around deciding if you’re going to keep something. A simple one to ask around paper clutter is do I need to keep a paper copy when I have an electronic copy? The answer is no. Use apps such as JotNot to scan paper documents using your iPhone and then upload them to Microsoft OneNote. Evernote is also a good way to capture paper documents and turn them into electronic copies. Or just get yourself a fab scanner that uplaods directly to the Cloud.
3. Keep your desk clear
If you are going to have items on your desk, keep it to an absolute minimum. An in-tray. A small container for pens and pencils. A notebook for you to jot your to do list, ideas or messages on. A lamp to provide good light and of course your computer. There should be no reason to have anything else on there unless it’s temporary.
4. The end of day declutter
Start a ritual and clear your desk at the end of the day. If extra bits and bobs have wormed their way back onto your desk throughout the day, clear them off and pop them back where they belong. You know that feeling you get when you finish at your desk? You have a big stretch and a sigh, get up and walk away? Well, give your workspace the same opportunity to breathe (as weird as that sounds, but you know what I mean). Give it space too. AND the extra benefit is when you step back to your desk to do some work, it’s already clear of clutter and junk. Your mind will thank you for it.
5. Create clarity with a visual tunnel
What on earth does that mean I hear you say? What’s in front of you (apart from your computer)? Are you in a cubicle and in front of you is a pinboard of post it notes, scribbled messages and lots of stuff pinned haphazardly onto it? When we look up and take a moment to refocus or let our mind wander, give it something beautiful and uncluttered to look at. I have a friend who has a gorgeous print of Paris in front of her desk. That’s where her mind wanders to when she needs a brain break. Think about the difference between giving your brain a break by looking at that scene as opposed to adding more pressure to your brain by giving it a wall of post it notes to look at.
Everyone works differently. I know that. Some people even say that they prefer a messy environment to work in. If that’s what works for you, great. Just make sure you’re not saying that because you actually don’t know where to start.