Clear Your Desk, Clear Your Mind
By Francine Jay, author of The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify
Is your desk space filled with pens, papers and files? Francine Jay, aka Miss Minimalist, is here to help.
In some cases, a messy desk may be a sign of genius. But for us non-Einsteins, it’s more likely hindering (rather than helping) our productivity.
When our workspace is cluttered, it’s difficult to focus on the task at hand. The piles of paperwork, pens, and other paraphernalia are both physical and mental roadblocks to progress. Conversely: when our desk is clear, our mind is clear, and we can work with ease and efficiency.
The single best way to keep a tidy desk is to think of it as “flex space.” In the corporate world, flex space is a work area open for anyone’s use. When an employee arrives in the morning, she sets up at an available (empty) desk for the day; and when she leaves, she clears it completely, leaving it free for someone else to use tomorrow. Of course, it’ll only be you—but wouldn’t it be lovely to sit down at a clean space?
Follow these five simple tips, and you’ll be on your way to a streamlined and serene workspace:
1. Out with the old. When you replace old equipment with new—phones, monitors, printers, etc.—don’t hang on to their predecessors. Donate or recycle them responsibly. For maximum space and efficiency, keep only your latest and greatest devices.
2. Eliminate the excess. If you’ll never use 1000 paperclips or 50 pens, cull your supplies to a reasonable amount. Likewise, declutter duplicate staplers, rulers, scissors, and other items. Don’t keep extras when you only need one.
3. Purge the paperwork. Go through your piles and files, and toss any outdated or irrelevant paperwork. Use a scanner to digitize documents for which you need the information, but not the original. Organize active paperwork into category- or project-specific folders, instead of stacking or strewing them across your desk.
4. A place for everything. Make a place for everything, and keep everything in its place. Assign specific spots for every category of office supply and paperwork you have. If it helps, label containers, drawers, and shelves to remind you of their appropriate contents.
5. Keep surfaces clear. Clear off your desk as you wrap up each day’s work. Tuck away office supplies in drawers or containers, use a wall-mounted rack for paperwork and mail, and hang notes, reminders, and other random scraps of paper on a bulletin board.
And if you’re so inspired, let that beautiful space on your desk spread out to other parts of your work life. Instead of striving to get more done, try having less to do. Be selective with the commitments you make, and devote your energies to those that really matter. A little breathing room in your To Do list reduces your stress levels, and can do wonders for your productivity. What’s more: it can put you on the fast track to success. For when we pare down to the essentials, we give ourselves the time, space, and energy to accomplish the extraordinary.
The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify is out now.
In The Joy of Less Jay shares simple steps to cultivate a minimalist mindset and form new habits, paving the way to lasting success. Her easy-to-follow STREAMLINE method works in any space-from a single drawer to a closet, room, or entire house.
Pick-up your copy from any good bookstore or on online.
Share a picture of your tidy desk with us on Twitter with #JoyOfLess.
Pssst…look what is coming out later this year:
The Joy of Less Journal: Clear Your Inner Clutter.
In this journal, Francine turns her minimalist philosophy inward, providing an easy system to Reduce Stress, Release Worry, and Restore Clarity. Featuring 52 thought-provoking prompts, motivational quotations, and space to write and reflect, this inspiring journal helps readers discover a lighter, simpler, more serene life.