Being organized is the key to efficiency. It’s not rocket science. That applies to work, home, or working from home. The workplace is where most of us earn our keep and it can be chaotic enough, even more so if the environment is fast-paced and deadline driven. The simplicity of of de-cluttering makes a huge impact not just with productivity but in relation to stress levels. Even for creatives who are known to thrive in controlled chaos. So, here are five simple ways to cut down on the clutter.
1. Clean as you go
A good lesson when cooking that also applies to our workspace: Pick it up as you mess it up. The goal is to work at keeping your space clean as you work. Take it out, read it, sort and then put it right back where it belongs as opposed to leaving it laying out. Yes, you can have hidden disaster piles that make no sense to anyone but you, but for your primary everyday working space, it’s important to file, sort and compartmentalize those piles as you go. At the very least, you should aspire to have your desk space clean and clear by the end of the day so that you can start fresh, and energized the next day. Keep the trinkets and collectibles out of sight. A signature coffee mug or significant photo is fine but being a desk hoarder is not only unappealing, it can lead to unnecessary distractions.
2. Use a sorting system (or a combination of the two) and stick to it
Systems for sorting help us to compartmentalize physically and mentally. Just the thought of order can help facilitate the process of organization and alleviate procrastination.
- Old school: If you can’t part with paper, apply three to five primary colors to use with the folders, stickies, and tabs you use to file away the day. You’ll easily recognize each corresponding color.
- New school: If you’re down with digital, create folders to clean up all those random documents on your desktop and color code the folders.
3. Go paperless
Yes, you have the devices (laptop, tablet, Smartphone) but you’re still copying and printing paper when it’s never been easier to access any document you need from any of your devices. A general rule of thumb: Use a little paper, a lot of digital. Some of us are still pen and pad kind of people and that’s okay. Just limit what you write down or print. Think sticky notes and printing only when there is no access to a computer or digital device, everything else can be accessed using the Cloud. God bless Google Drive! Also consider developing a habit of typing instructions as blog posts. It’s easier to keep track of, refer back to and direct people to in a pinch. If there were ever a time to utilize the benefits of the Cloud, it’s now.
4. Purge each season
You have to throw stuff out and do it often. Especially if you tend to accumulate piles of articles, clippings, ideas for “later,” that you think you need to hang on to. Like your closet, if you don’t wear it after a season passes, get rid of it (either donate or ditch). In the case of work files, if you haven’t looked at them since the previous season, pitch them. If you’re on the fence about whether you really need it or not, take a photo of it and then pitch it or better yet, upload it. That said, you should also take stock of your digital files with same concept in mind. Take an inventory and free up some digital space by deleting and re-organizing computer files.
5. Plan purposefully
Pencil in time for yourself to actually work on organizing and planning. Some days it may be 10 minutes, other days you might actually get to add an hour and at times there will be no time. But put it on the calendar.
At the end of the day, and week, your sanity will thank you.