It is very hard to work in a messy office. When our room/desk is messy our minds also become messy. In this post I want to look at some simple things you can do to simplify your workspace.
How to simplify your workspace
Here are some basic pointers that you can use.
1. Delete your emails
Something that I realized a long time ago is that it is harder to manage my online business dealings when my inbox is full. I lose track of emails, forget to reply to people and just feel sort of messy. This is especially important if you’re anything like me and get over 100 emails a day.
2. Put papers into a designated space
Quite often we just leave papers all over the place. It is organized mess. We know where it is… sometimes. One thing you can do is head down to your local ikea and buy some really cheap desktop boxes. My girlfriend bought about ten of these last year and ever since that time our office has been so much more organized. They come in so many different colors and shapes so you can match them to your personal style.
Take a look at some examples from the ikea organization section. However, it doesn’t matter whether you have boxes or piles – as long as it is in a designated place.
3. Take out your cups
Every time you have a drink or something to eat you should take out your left overs and cups. The reason for this is simple – clutter. Cups and plates take up a lot of room and they always make a room look messy; perhaps more than anything else. It is a simple and easy way to simplify your workspace.
4. Take stuff off the walls
When you walk into a simple room it has clean walls. When you walk into a messy room it is covered in posters, paintings and reminders. If you want to simplify your workspace you need to take all the non-essentials off of the wall. This will make your room seem bigger and more spacious which will allow your work to flow unimpeded.
5. Keep only one thing of everything
I have a little simplicity rule that has served me well. I try to only keep one of everything on my desk. For example, I have only one pen, one lead pencil, and so on. This prevents you from collecting masses of things that you don’t need. Simple desks are productive desks.
6. Organize your PC desktop into folders
It is a good idea to do the same for your computer as you did for your desk. We spend all day on our computers and over time we gather a massive amount of crap that we don’t need on our desktop. Again, this is more about the illusion of being clean and simple. If our desktop is organized into folders it will feel like we have less going on and less mess. We will be less stressed when we have to find files because we will know exactly where they are.
7. Get a white board
In first year university I realized I was stressed as hell because I couldn’t organize all of my deadlines. I was starting an online business as well as handing up assignments so I needed to prioritize my time.
photo credit: GAWHS Leo Club
The reason a white board is a good idea is twofold: 1) you can get rid of all your other notes and calendars that you have laying around the place and; 2) you can wipe it clean whenever you need to to create that “open space” look.
8. Do it daily
One of my buddhist teachers always used to tell us to clean our room everyday before we sat down to study or meditate. He said this helps us calm down and focus and creates a respectful environment for working. The other reason is that it helps us battle mess before it gets out of control!
The same is true for your desk. If you clean your desk and computer for the first five minutes of the day you will stay on top of the mess and feel like you are working in a clean environment each day. Try it out.
If anyone else has any other tips I would love to hear them. Perhaps we could create a big list of simplicity tips.
Originally posted on March 26, 2008 @ 5:02 am
Excellent suggestions, the two which strike home most for me are – keep just one thing of anything on the desk…
Looking at my desk now I can see about 20 biros and pencils spilling out of a container etc.
The second thing is to spend 5 minutes or so at the beginning of the day tidying up the computer and work space.
The Daily Minder
Dave – I actually think they are the two that work the best for me too. Five minutes a day is all it takes.
Thanks for dropping a comment.
Great list of tips. I really actually love the design of the site. Lots of images and space – not too clutterred – like a desk!!!!!!
Love this post. I agree with Dave – five minutes a day is the best tip on that list. I try to do that sometimes but dont usually succeed.
Thank you for submitting this to the Blog Carnival.
I did a full GTD about two years ago. It is just like every thing you described in this post. It was the single most important thing that turned my ability to keep work organized. And don’t you know it overflowed into my real life. I organized my personal documents and got rid of al the clutter.
People at work look amazed that I know where everything is. The secret is that I don’t know where it all is. I do know that everything has a folder. And all folders get filed in one of two places. The file cabinet in alphabetical order, and my daily tickler file.
The Daily Minder
John I think I need to follow your lead and get a filing cabinet. Things are all over my home office – tax, receipts, etc. Very unorganized!
Thanks for your comments today – I really enjoyed them.