How to Simplify & Streamline Your Workspace
Do you find that it is nearly impossible to get work done with a messy desk and a cluttered environment? A serene, clear and efficient workspace is much more conducive to focusing in on the task at hand. Whether you work in a cubicle in a high-rise downtown or in a spacious home office, follow these tips to streamline and simplify your workspace so you feel productive and inspired when you sit down at your desk for the day. To start this process, set aside some uninterrupted time, ideally a few hours, before or after work. Make yourself a cup of coffee, turn on you favorite Spotify playlist, and start to clean out.
Step 1: Clean Out Your Workspace
Before you try to organize, you have to do a little purging. Try to eliminate any excess in your workspace, specifically on your desk/work surface. The clearer your workspace can be, the easier it will be to work on projects, but also the easier it will be to actually clean and wipe down each week. Store as many things as possible in drawers, on shelves, or on a bulletin board on the wall instead of on your work surface. Eliminate any unnecessary tchotchkes and photos, and toss that half-dead plant that you always forget to water. Hang pictures on the wall so they don’t take up desk space, stack books on a bookshelf or windowsill, and collect all of your loose office supplies in a drawer organizer. Toss out any pens that don’t write, recycle any magazines, receipts, and unnecessary paper, and only keep supplies you use on a regular basis.
Step 2: Set Up Systems
Once you’ve cleaned out, then it’s time to organize. Having systems for your work flow not only makes your processes more efficient, but they also keep clutter from accumulating. The biggest source of clutter in an office is paper. Try to catch paper clutter before it nests on your desk. Sort your mail right when it comes in and recycle any junk, shred sensitive documents when they are no longer needed, and recycle last month’s magazine when the new one comes in. For the papers that you need to keep, set up a “to be filed” box or folder for the things you need to keep and actually file the documents at the end of each week. Set up an “action” box or tray for items that need attention, and set a time daily or weekly to address the items.
Step 3: Eliminate Clutter by Going Digital
In this day and age, so much can be found online, as well as stored digitally, that we can avoid a lot of paper altogether. Things like manuals that came with your printer can be recycled because you can find them online if you ever need it. For files you could keep digitally, scan each page and then recycle or shred the hard copy. Store on Dropbox, in iCloud, or an external hard drive. Make sure to back up your files!
If you like making “To Do” lists, consider taking those digital as well. I love Todoist for my lists. Same goes for your calendar, try using Google Calendar or iCal for your scheduling so you can get rid of your paper planner or wall calendar. Use a program such as Evernote for taking notes and the Evernote Web Clipper for keeping track of articles instead of printing them out.
Step 4: Maintain Your Space
Now, doesn’t that feel good? Hopefully if you’ve cleaned off your work surface, reduced any unnecessary décor, recycled unneeded papers, and set up your digital files and calendar you are feeling ready to work! In order to maintain this simplified and streamlined workspace, set up a time weekly to do some maintenance including filing, recycling, deleting emails, and wiping down your desk. If your workspace is tidy and only filled with things you use and need, you will allow creativity and inspiration to flow in the space, and do your best work even faster.