Hands up if you can work with papers, vision boards, idea napkins and notebooks strewn about. If you can, I applaud you. I can not. My work space is not big enough to fit both clutter and productivity. Don’t get me wrong: I can make a nice mess every once in a while, but clutter? No thanks.
Clutter isn’t just about the aesthetics either. Clutter can affect your brain. According to this Princeton University Neuroscience Institute study, researchers found that physical clutter (piles of papers, disposable cups, coffee mugs, etc.) can reduce your ability to focus and process information by competing for your attention.
And then there’s the non-physical clutter: the mental to-do lists, endless barrage of emails, constant social media pings and ceaseless text messages. Mental and digital clutter are just as nasty and impairing as physical clutter. I struggle with this. I struggle to put away my phone, unplug and truly concentrate on my work.
We are all about simplicity here at Bourbon & Honey. So here are four tips to help you declutter and simplify your work space.
Get in the Zone
Divide your space into zones and give it a “flow”. On my desk, there are separate spaces for printing, writing and filing. I even divide my desk into zones, too. There’s a space for my computer, notebooks, pens and decor. While it may seem regimented and structured to segment my work space into zones, it helps me stay focused and productive. I’m left-handed, so all my notes and notebooks are on my left side for easy access and all my decor and office supplies are on my right. This set up gives my space a flow that works for me. I keep the things I use and need most often close to me and I put the other, marginally used things further away. Organizing your stuff into zones can help you create a flow for your work space that will help you create a flow for your ideas.
Use Storage Solutions
Whether it’s a magazine holder to keep files, a holder to centralize loose pens or a series of table top drawers to keep office supplies, use storage solutions to give the stuff you need a home. Luckily, there are tons of storage solutions out there that can not only help you organize and simplify, but add to the aesthetic of your work space. I love browsing through the organization/work section of Chapter’s and picking up some file folders, pen holders or anything else that helps organize my stuff.
Audit Your Stuff
This is hard. Because everything is important, right? But do you really need that Spring 2012 issue of Vogue for that one article? Probably not.
Take stock of what you have. Then write down what you need to do your best work. And be honest with yourself. Then, get rid of anything that doesn’t serve a purpose. This could mean those notes from four years ago for that project that you completed or letting go of your impressive magazine collection.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you take on too much at once. So start small. Clean up one drawer. Then do another. Spend five minutes one day clearing up one section of your space. Because five minutes is manageable; five hours is overwhelming. Start small and gradually build up until your entire work space is organized and clutter free. Final word here: if it’s not wasting your time, don’t waste time organizing it. By setting limits on what you organize in a certain time frame can help you realize when “good enough” is actually good enough. Perfectionism is a productivity killer.
What is your top organization tip?