One of the easiest places that clutter can build up is in the office and this clutter reduces our ability to perform at our best. Usually at work we have our actual to-do list, and then there are meetings, notes from the meetings, extra projects, project files, emails, and admin work. Some of these are digital, but there is lots of paper in most cases.
Physical and mental clutter compete for our attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress by overloading our senses. In this environment, our ability to think creatively is impaired, and unless we carve out the time to declutter and stay organised we won’t get to it.
In the workplace, the purpose of decluttering is to help us focus to on the important things instead of getting bogged down with the urgent minutia. Since most of us spend a good chunk of our time working it is important that we put in the effort to make our experience efficient and enjoyable. Here is how you can tackle the clutter at work and maintain the order:
Step 1: Define what clutter means to you.
Before you start decluttering think about how you want your space to look. Make sure this is something that you want. The reason is that what we perceive as clutter is different for everyone. What is a visually noisy room for one person might be a creative space for another. And a clinically empty space might be uninspiring and boring.
Seek to create spaces that make you feel at ease. Figure out what level of stuff makes you feel most productive and doesn’t distract you. It is your perception of clutter that matters, not someone else’s.
P.S. It’s also good to take a before photo at this stage, for comparison and to see trouble spots that you miss normally.
Step 2: Schedule time where you can declutter.
If you don’t schedule it decluttering rarely happens on it own. The amount of time will depend on how much stuff you need to sort through and if you are going to get overwhelmed by trying to tackle everything at once. You can either schedule a small amount of time every day or dedicate a whole day or weekend to sort it out. Whatever you decide to do schedule the time and stick to it.
Step 3: Have a plan where everything is going to go.
Give everything you are keeping a home - a place they can go once they have been put to use for the working day so that they are easy to find when you need it later and be useful to you.
Have rubbish bags and boxes for the stuff you are going to sell or give away. Make sure to have empty rubbish bins and space in your car or your friends car to take to op shops. The important thing here is to have a complete plan for where the stuff is going to go so that they actually go.
Step 4: Have a plan B when things go pear-shaped.
Getting rid of stuff is psychologically troublesome for us, so it is highly likely things may not go as you planned. You might find that you are not able to go through everything at once. If that happens try a different method. Ask for someone who you know that’s good at helping declutter to help you, or check out this zen habit blog post. As long as you are taking action no matter how small or large that’s good.
Step 5: Start.
No matter how small of an action you are taking and no matter how big of a challenge it is to you, if you don’t start it will never get done. Remember why this is important to you when you feel like procrastinating.
Step 6: Enjoy your new space and reward yourself.
Take a deep breath and, see and feel how good it feels. Appreciate your space now that it has been rid from clutter and you only have what you love and need. Reward yourself by having a nice cup of tea or getting a nice air-cleansing pot plant for your desk.
Step 7: Create a maintenance plan.
To keep your space at its optimum level, you will need small daily habits that help you so you never have to “spring clean” your office ever again. For example, changing from paper-based to digital can make staying clutter-free easier. You can digitise things like business cards, meeting notes, and invoices, and never have to worry about where to store them (or where to find them) again. Another effective tip to take a few minutes before you leave at the end of the day to clear off your desk and make it presentable. When you walk into the office the next day, you can get down to work right away instead of having something small ruining your start to your workday. Also, learn to not hoard reading materials. If you haven’t read one thing don’t get another one, or give that one away and read the new. The purpose of most stuff is to be used and experienced not hoarded.
DECLUTTERING YOUR WORKSPACE IS THE FOUNDATION FOR DOING GREAT WORK
Let’s be clear the purpose of decluttering the office is to help you do more important work so don’t get too obsessed with having a neat desk. If your desk gets messy during the day that’s fine it means you are doing stuff. The idea is to be efficient, not pedantic.
Decluttering your workspace is one of the first steps to being able to do good work. This is the basic but important foundation to the real challenge of creating stuff that help people and change the world for the better.
You have taken the first step, and it’s an important one. A space that inspires creativity and promotes focus is the building block to doing meaningful work.
With love and simplicity,
Work on your ability to find and focus doing meaningful work. Schedule a clarity session here.