Can I tell you a secret? I really, really love sorting and organizing things. Like a lot. I purge and rearrange areas of my home several times a year to keep things from getting too cluttered. I’ll start my laundry and end up going through my closet to donate clothes or rearranging the things in my kitchen cabinets. Weird? Maybe…but I get a zippy little thrill from seeing clean surfaces and lots of open space on shelves. It’s especially helpful in my workspace. I have a small home office; a standard size small bedroom, nothing fancy, but there’s a lot packed in there. I totally understand how easy it is to let the stuff take over. It just happens. You get busy, time passes and before you know it you’re buried in piles of paper, oodles of supplies and stacks of crap you didn’t even know you had...let alone know what to do with now that you’ve noticed them again. But have no fear, my friends, because Spring is upon us and my compulsive need to sort will benefit you today. Spring is the time of year that begs us to start fresh and look to the year ahead with an uncluttered mind AND an uncluttered space. That’s right, y’all...it’s time for SPRING CLEANING!
You know that feeling when you walk into a room and it just feels good? That’s where I want to get you and your workspace today. Having a clean, organized workspace is critical to working efficiently and happily...especially if you’re in a creative field. That sea of stuff may actually be holding you back from your potential because you simply can’t concentrate with so many distractions around you. Clean work surfaces, organized files systems, uncluttered surroundings and lots of light will help just about anyone find their rhythm and waste less time trying to get into the groove. Plus, having an organized space will actually give back. It inadvertently gives you more time to enjoy the rest of your life outside of work; if you work faster and easier you can head out to play with the kids sooner or actually enjoy dinner on time with your family.
So who’s ready to get started? Ok, first thing’s first...grab a box or two. You’re going to do some serious purging here and there will plenty of items that you can donate to Goodwill or recycle. Now let’s get your office back in working order for Spring. Let’s start with the hub of all the action...
Desk Surface: Clear it off completely. Remove everything and wipe it down with some disinfectant to get rid of any winter cold germs. Be selective in what you put back on your desk. You should have plenty of space to spread out and work so your computer and mouse, a small pot of most-often used pens or pencils and a stapler or other office tool you use frequently are really all you need in front of you.
Papers: Sort through them all. Shred and recycle what you don’t need, digitize and/or file what you do and keep going until you have only one stack of pages that need to be addressed. Keep them tidy in a small tray.
Files: If you have manila folders or hanging files it’s time to give those bad boys a run through. Yes, there will be long-term items you keep such as home maintenance records, receipts for large items, insurance papers and tax records...but if it’s not relevant to your larger financial picture it’s time to toss those sheets.
Junk Drawer: Everyone has one. It’s usually filled with extension cords, phone chargers, etc. and that’s totally fair because some items are nice to have on hand, but do you really need 42 nubby pencils and 26 pens with dried up ink? Nope. How about those 18 scratch pads that have never seen the light of day? Probably not. Be critical about what you need. If you don’t know what that random plug goes to, where it came from or when the last time you used it was then take it out. Toss or donate what will no longer serve you.
Storage: Now that your desk is clear and your files put away, address the rest of the room. Whatever kind of space you’re in I bet you have bins of old paint tools or craft items that you no longer use... Maybe you have a stack of old magazines that you need to recycle. Whatever is lying around taking up space, take the time to go through it.
Clean: Vacuum and dust the entire space. This includes baseboards and window treatments! Really get in there and shake the dust off!
Rearrange: Try the furniture in a new configuration...it will feel like a brand new room!
Plants: Add a few living things to breathe some life into your office. Not only will they create a natural, welcoming environment but plants are great for air quality as well.
Decorate: Hang a new picture or add some color with curtains or pillows.
Desktop: All those random files can either be trashed or combined and need to find a home. You’ll be amazed at how ready you feel to take on the work day when you open your computer and there’s nothing but a lovely desktop design and a few folders staring at you.
Files: Organize your filing system. If you have a bunch of items in folders but still have no clue where anything is it’s time to implement a system. Start with upper level tiers and break them down to keep things manageable.
Project Folders: Clean up old drafts and miscellaneous items in folders and keep only what’s necessary to a project for the sake of archiving.
Save Space: Move files to an external drive to save space on your computer’s hard drive and keep it running smoothly.
Programs: If you use things like Trello or Asana, clean out your dashboards and discard old or completed items so that your dashboards only reflect things you will need to think about this year.
Email: Archive what you need and clear out that inbox! You can set up filters in GMail so that your mail is sorted for you.
Unsubscribe: You don’t really care about tickets going on sale for that band that came through town once, do you? Get off that email list and free up your bandwidth for better things.
Notifications: Turn em off. Seriously. Those little red dots and pitchy little “dings!” are nothing but a nuisance. You know you need to check your email and you’ll get to it… Don’t let your phone take you away from something you’re already focused on.
Photos: Download and save your photos, then delete them. You know you don’t need 183 selfies on there...come on now.
Apps: Delete all those random apps you downloaded for fun but never opened again. They’re just taking up precious space!
Updates: If you’ve been putting them off now’s the time to run the updates and make sure you’re up to date with bug fixes and latest features.
Now that you’re done you should have a pretty decent pile of things to get rid of. Donate items you no longer need to goodwill. Local schools and churches will also usually accept any unopened or unused items such as paper, writing tools and craft items. If you’re determined to give things away rather than scrap them, you could also try daycares, posting on Facebook, giving items away to friends or putting the tried-and-true “FREE” sign on the box and sitting it out at the end of your driveway. I use that method often and it never fails.
I know tackling something like this can sound overwhelming or at the very least like something you just simply don’t have time for, but I promise you that sacrificing one day or afternoon or hour a night will make all the days following that much sweeter. Your frame of mind around work and your efficiency will improve which will in turn make you better at your job. Now isn’t that just good business sense?? Even if you can’t tackle it all at once, start with one drawer a day or one file a day. Keep going until you’ve managed to crawl out from under all your stuff and can finally breathe again. I’ll be spring cleaning my office right along with you so I wish you the best of luck! I’d love to hear how it’s going for you and if you have any other great tips for getting your office back in shape.
If you liked this post, would like to see more like it or simply have a question please email me! I'd love to hear from you!