Edit Yourself: Workspace

deskWhether this is your desk at home or work; we all have a tendency to add clutter that ends up gathering dust. Crap for short. Whether it is piles of notes, papers, calendars, clips, candy, pens, reminders are spread everywhere.

I used to horde things from the store to my desk. It just kept piling up. It was when I cleaned my entire room that I realized how it impaired the work I could have done. It sucked my attention, leading to common distraction. Visual clutter, and disorganization made it difficult to focus.

I came to a solution to try and meet my needs. A productive and simple as possible workspace. (The picture above looks similar to my desk. I actually have less. No flower, candle or an extra notebook). I didn’t get it on the first time, it took continual progress to find out what it was I needed my workspace to allow. So I minimized it completely of distractions and simplified it. Even though my space is very simple, it meets the needs I established for myself. To write and not be visually distracted. A spacious area.

You can also do the same. Meet your own needs. If you want then allow yourself a few personal items. The idea is for you to be able to focus on what you need to. There is no point in making work harder for yourself, more stressed and being where you have to be for longer periods of time. There is no point to making the day more difficult. It’s about working with your workspace to produce results not headache.

My new space has: My laptop, a book to write in (+ a pen), a lamp and a water bottle. Oh and of course space. Lots of space.

There is no clutter, worry about working around my desk, cleaning it or managing the space to be able to work. My attention doesn’t get sucked towards distractions anymore. I can confidently say I have never been as productive as before.

Let’s start editing!

  1. Papers. I used to keep papers from years ago on my desk that were nothing but irrelevant. I’ve seen some friends of mine keep piles beside their desks. Yes piles. Piles so high you could use them to sit. Gather all your papers and bring them into another room. Process them. When I cleaned first cleaned my desk I ended up recycling almost all of my papers. Whatever is important or needs attention to, put it in a organized folder (more below). This folder can be for important dates, receipts, to-do list, any sort of action list, etc. Just make sure it’s important and that you need it. Go paper by paper and limit your options to: Organize it or recycle. Alternatively for a paper-free workspace, If you have a scanner you can scan all your important documents and upload them to your computer. From here you can make a folder for your needs.
  2. Organized folder. A folder for all your important documents. Organized of course by section. Finding things in this folder should be easy. I have a large folder with sections inside. You can either label them from alphabetically, or according to your paper needs.
  3. Walls. It may be posters, papers, something funny, photos and so on. Anything attached to your wall really. Remove it. Unless you really need it. Which if you are being honest, you probably don’t. I used to keep a piece of art to look at but I much prefer looking at something blank. No visual distractions keep will keep you focused. I’ve recently taken down 3 posters. I now have 1 paper on my wall. It’s the current habit I’m working towards. Right now I’m working towards setting a morning routine for myself. This way everyday I wake up it’s there. My morning routine. A constant reminder and you can also add a motivation quote to keep you going!
  4. Miscellaneous. I had so much of these cool little gadgets, toys and candies on my desk. I would constantly fidget with them. This was a massive distraction for me. I took all my pens, toys and extra things and either donated them or put them away. The ones I really wanted to keep are now in a small box, in a drawer. If I ever need it again I now know where to find it. What you don’t need on your desk don’t keep. You can sell it, donate it or store it away in an organized place. (Don’t keep everything, try and limit what you actually want to keep.)
  5. Drawers. My previous desk had 6 drawers. It gave me the illusion of privilege that I should store crap in there. And I did. Now I have a desk with no drawers. This way there is no way I can store junk. If you have drawers, go one drawer at a time. Organize it. Make two piles for yourself. Toss (donate or sell) or keep.
  6. Computer. Your desktop and your important files. Most of us leave unused, desktop items lying aimlessly. They occupy our whole screen and just make it a mess to find anything or unappealing to start anything. I had 3/4’s of my desktop filled with icons at one point. Everything that you need to do can be organized into folders. So have a folder for your mail, your work, and things you use daily. You may also add it to your start bar for quick access. My desktop has 1 folder. Inside that folder I keep 4 folders. This way there is very little clutter and I know where I can access everything. The 4 folders are each for: Writings, Pictures, Backups (of everything) and Projects (I’m working on or finished). I’ve also made it that my everyday uses of applications or files I either made a shortcut or added them to the quick access bar.
  7. A List. Following all the steps will make your workspace simplified, and clutter free. Even though this is about removing, one thing that has helped me become more productive and focused is a list. Keep a simple list or notepad beside you. This is for writing what you need to do for the day. Your high priority tasks (HPT) and low priority tasks (LPT). Write 1-3 of each per day. What you need to focus on and start with the HPT then move towards the LPT. Since your space will be clean you can now see beside you what you need to focus on.

Your desk might have a lot clutter so if cleaning it all at once sounds unappealing or will take your whole day, split it into segments. Over your weekend or the next few days take 1 hour and clean as much can. Repeat until you are finished. This way it doesn’t become a chore to do it and you can enjoy it. If you want add some soft music to keep you going.

Once you simplify your home desk, next is your work space or vice versa. You don’t have to start right away. You will have gained confidence and experience of what needs to go, and learned what works for you.

If you do everything above your desk should spacious and clean! Simplified and meet the needs of your productive workspace.

Take a step back and look at what you accomplished. You can now enjoy a simple, clean and productive workspace.

Until next time,

Dragos Bernat.

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