I don’t know about you, but I love the spring…seeing everything coming back to life, flowers pushing their way through the ground, lambs in the field next door to me and everything feels fresh and new. The only downside is that the grass grows at a phenomenal rate, so I’m out on the sit-on lawnmower a lot! But even that gives me a weird sense of pleasure…my thinking time!
On my last batch of lawn mowing, I was thinking about my writing work, as I often do, and about a couple of articles I’d read recently about how productivity can be boosted by simply having a clean and clear desk space – I guess the this saying sprang to mind, “A cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind”. This rings a bit true for me, because while I constantly make lists about everything, from my daily work ‘to do’ list to shopping to what I need to do around the house and garden, I am a maker of ‘piles’. I have piles of books, papers, a ‘to do‘pile of stuff that needs looking at urgently etc. etc.
Piles of paper
I’ve always thought that my piles of stuff were a kind of organisation – I know where everything is; it’s my system and it works for me. In reality, it doesn’t, there have been several times recently where I couldn’t find something important…because I’d put it ‘somewhere safe’ in a pile of other paper. I’ve always found what I’m looking for in the end, but this has taken up precious time and effort…if I’d had a designated space for my piles of stuff, I’d know for sure where everything is.
Dump the piles!
It’s quite simple to get rid of the piles of ‘stuff’. The answer is organisation.
- Go through the piles of stuff and organise the paper into an order – you might have bills to be paid, articles to read, stuff that needs filing. Whatever it might be take a few minutes to sort things out. Use a filing cabinet or shelving system to organise yourself – maybe use box files or lever arch files to put the same kind of thing in one place.
- Have an inbox with things that need doing today, such as bills you can pay online, a reminder to email someone or ring someone. When those things have been done, file them away.
- Throw out anything you don’t need – there’s bound to be things you no longer need or use, so bin it!
- Go paperless – in our world of recycling and conserving the environment, it amazes me how many people don’t do online banking, for example. It’s so much easier that sifting through page after page of bank statements, when you can do it at a click of the mouse. I do appreciate that not everyone is computer savvy, but as much as possible, get rid of everything ‘paper’ that you can.
- Schedule in a 15-20 minute session a week to clean your desk and surrounding work space. This will help you keep things organised and won’t allow you to let your piles build up again!
- If you have documents that you need to keep, scan them into your computer and save them in a file. These things don’t have to take up valuable space on your computer, you can use one of the many free cloud storage devices, such as Dropbox, G Drive or iCloud.
- If you use an office desk, take everything out of the drawers, be ruthless and throw away anything that you no longer need or use – if you have anything with personal information on it, burn it or shred it. Organise your drawers, so you will know where everything is at a glance.
- If you have loads of electronic devices, chances are you’ll have a spaghetti-like muddle of cables and wires. That can be distracting or sometimes, even dangerous. Get them organised using a cable organisation system or those plastic ties. There are loads of products to help you with this – simply Google search or look on Amazon.
Finally, I just LOVE stationery! I have an abundance of pens, pads, staplers and little gadgets, but do I really need them all? I like to have them, but I don’t necessarily need them all on show on my desk, so if you’re the same, it’s time to find a place to put them…in a drawer, or in a box within a drawer, so you know where they are. Actually, having all my bits and bobs in a box within a drawer means I can buy some more stationery (!)…the little boxes to put everything in! Probably not a good idea, but works for me!
How does this boost productivity?
A clean and clear office space will help you feel more organised and motivated, whereas a messy space makes for muddled thoughts and needless stress.
A cluttered desk also serves as a distraction, so if it’s clean, you can be more focused on what you need to do.
Stress plays a bit part in most of our lives, and a huge pile of paper can make you feel that the hill is too big to climb; it’s overwhelming.
So, with a clean and clear desk space, you can start the day knowing where everything is, knowing what is a priority for the day and you’ll be able to be more focused on what needs to be done.
What do you do to help keep your desk space uncluttered and keep your mind clear to focus on your work? I’d love to hear from you!