We’ve all been there: We make plans to “tidy” and organize our desks and make some excuse when the work week is over and we still haven’t checked that off our to-do list. But what if instead of a chore, look at cleaning as a step towards bettering your mental state. It’s true that the more disorganized your space, the less productive you are, especially if your workspace is also your home space. (Kudos to those who work from home and have managed to make it this far. We applaud your tenacity.) Just like taking the trash out or clearing your hard drive, cleaning of any kind can seem rather daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve laid out some tips on how to get you started organizing and decluttering, in business and in everyday life.
1. KEEP, TOSS, REPEAT
There is a fine line between the things you want to keep and what you actually need for conducting business from your workspace. When sorting through the items on your desk, it’s best to start small to avoid getting overwhelmed. Depending on your business, you may have filing cabinets or multiple drawers to sort through, and you can certainly choose those as starting points. If you’re still unsure of what to consider “relevant” business material, this general list can jumpstart you from your desk and beyond.
From here, you can start to prioritize what is absolutely essential to your business, and business alone, whether it’s a planner (if you’re into scheduling on paper), an external hard drive, or an extra phone charger. Toss any dried out pens, empty envelopes, or broken cables. As for your 3 extra sets of chargers? More on better storage hacks later.
2. FILE AWAY, PHYSICALLY & DIGITALLY
So whether you’re doing this in one day or over the weekend, by now you should have pared down your workspace as near to the basics as possible. If you’ve got tons of paperwork and client information that need a home, here’s where the real task begins. Start making separate client folders and labelling accordingly. We’ve always believed it’s good practice to keep the labels accurate and alike, whether you choose to use physical or digital filing methods.
As you start placing some organization in the chaos, you’ll start to find it gets easier with each time you do it as you’ll remember where things should go. Pro tip: the “cleaning bug” on your computer can help sort and organize homeless notes and documents as well. Routinely purging what’s unnecessary and designating spaces/labels not only betters your ability to organize correctly, but also gives you a rewarding sense of accomplishment. If the idea of giving your workspace an overhaul still gives you anxiety, take a moment and ask yourself if a project is completed or if you’re feeling behind because you can’t find a certain handwritten note from a month ago. If the answer is yes, it’s time for a change. We all want to get things done, and that begins by prioritizing our cleaning and organizing habits.
3. DECLUTTER, DE-STRESS
If your workspace isn’t making you feel happy, you won’t do the same great work as you could do. If you weren’t aware of this before, there is a strong link between your work environment and how it can affect your productivity levels. There are even organizations working to make “healthy buildings” a necessity in business. The choice alone to minimize the amount of objects on your desk can significantly boost your working power and relieve stress almost instantly, just by sorting things one at a time. By building a daily routine of keeping things in their place, your “mental clutter” will also decrease.
4. INSTALL SOME INSPIRATION
For those that do business from home, keeping a separate space dedicated only to work doesn’t have to feel like a big task. Earlier, we mentioned the dilemma of having multiple cables, power strips, or chargers and how to better store them in your work space. If you are trying to be budget-conscience and are looking for creative ways to organize, this is a great list of D.I.Y’s to point you in the right direction. You can also play with the idea of using color theory by placing objects of a certain color on your desk, like a plant or even a photograph. And if you’re feeling extra inspired, an accent wall painted in a bright color can do wonders for your workspace. Typically, it’s said that green inspires creative thinking and energy while reds could make you anxious or hungry (think Mcdonalds), but we say do whatever feels right to you. Keep looking for ways to make your space more comfortable and conducive to productivity, there are no limits.
5. SCHEDULE DECLUTTERING DAYS
If you’ve made it this far, here’s the most important piece of the puzzle: keeping a monthly schedule that sets specific “declutter dates” dedicated to cleaning things out. We’re all human, and we’re usually forced to multi-task in our day-to-day. Learning how to declutter is no different, which is why things are best done at the time of day when you’re feeling most productive. To learn more about energy management over time management, read through from an editor/personal trainer’s insight on how feeling more organized can increase your motivation.
What do you want your business to say about you? It’s not too different from what your desk should say, whether it’s in a cubicle, co-work space, or home office. If you project an image of professionalism and organization with your clients, the same should go for your workspace. Your desk is where you spend time growing your business the most, so take the time to start decluttering and your mind will thank you.