Guest blog by Marie Loney, Executive Wellbeing and Leadership Development Coach
If decluttering your office is still on the agenda for this year, I’ve prepared a few straightforward steps to get you started.
An ideal office may resemble a bright, clutter free, minimalistic space, organised and perfect. The reality is that workspaces can accumulate documents, files and unopened mail that are abandoned from current as well as past projects.
I collect a lot of information, books and papers when I work. As a creative that’s how I work. However, I’m also organised. What’s the saying?
“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”. (Albert Einstein). Einstein’s quote may advocate the positive side of cluttered offices conversely research demonstrates that:
- 41% of professionals believe that a tidy desk and an organised workspace is key to enhancing productivity
- 49% said untidy workspace affects how they feel about going into work each day.
- 73% of managers perceive those with untidy workspaces as being disorganised.
- 70% of professionals like to think that they keep a tidy office space.
Moreover, a tidy office can significantly affect anxiety, sleep, productivity, the ability to focus, mental health and wellbeing.
The evidence is convincing. If executives and managers believe decluttered workspaces increase productivity, then it’s time to clean up the office to develop a more congenial environment.
Here’s how you can start…
Step 1 – Prioritise
The first challenge is to start. Start small, start with your desk. This will create a positive atmosphere for ideas to flow. Neil Patel explores what you should do to create an optimal workspace for maximum productivity.
Prioritise items that you use frequently and those that you do not. Use desk top storage containers to organise these items in order of use, items that are under used can be stored in a central office cupboard for general office use. Marie Kondo’s ‘How to Tidy Your Office Desk’ clip offers some practical tips.
Step 2 – Organise
As referred to in the above paragraph clearing out and organising your office is a key component to decluttering a workspace. Clutter can take a variety of forms that include a series of small and large items that have made their way into the office space either on your desk or in the corner of the room, piles of files or discarded items with no designated area to reside.
Types of Clutter
- Redundant items
Such as excessive amounts of stationery, files, paper, books, pens, post its, old headphones or USB’s. Re-evaluate the essential items and either gift the remaining items to colleagues and friends or discard.
- Books, Articles and Documents
Continually, we find interesting articles, documents and books to read. Use the read allowed option on Microsoft word or audio books to navigate your collection. Donate extra books to the office library or recycle by gifting to colleagues or charity.
- Incomplete Tasks
There are always remnants from past tasks that can clutter the workspace such as relevant information that is no longer required. Recycle what you can and dispose of remaining items ethically.
- Emotional Clutter
These items support you emotionally or hold a personal connection. They may either be gifts from a special person, friend or items that are associated with feelings such as affirmations, inspiration or motivation.
- Digital clutter
Emails, computer desktops, mobile phones, apps and digital documents that can add extra clutter to our everyday function. Delete what you don’t need daily and review at the end of each week, month and year by repeating the process.
Step 3 – The Journey
Just like anything in life, keeping a tidy office is a journey that requires constant reassessment and refinement for lasting effect.
Remember that everyone is different and there are a multitude of different personas. The Myers- Briggs type indicator identifies strengths and preferences, some of which are categories such as either spontaneous or organised characteristics. Essentially, what is important is that you can tap into whichever personality type best serves you for the work at hand.
Appreciate the decluttering process as a journey by repeatedly building on small steps and incrementally through perseverance develop a decluttering schedule that serves you and your working environment.
How do you keep your office free from clutter? Let me know in the comments on your clean out journey?
Throughout her career, Marie has worked in fashion, business consultancy and education supporting individuals, teams and organisations to discover potential outcomes to professional and personal challenges.
Her practice is solution focused, supporting organisations to implement initiatives that position wellbeing at the core of business and employee development.