Whether you work from an office, a cubicle or a workstation at home, a little spring cleaning for your workspace can revitalize your productivity. I shared some office organization tips recently with writer Susannah Snider for an article in U.S. News & World Report.
In this interview, I talked about how spring cleaning your office or work area doesn’t just involve your physical space. Your virtual workspace is just as important to your productivity:
When tackling your email messages, Thomas suggests creating an email folder called “old email,” “2015” or something similar. Move everything into that folder and take a moment to revel in your zeroed-out inbox.
Next, commit to maintaining a new, better email attack plan going forward.
This is one of the most popular organization tips I teach during my training sessions. People tell me it makes a huge difference. I even have participants get started on it immediately during our sessions whenever I can.
One of the other organization tips that I really love from this article comes from Ellen Faye, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers. She recommends keeping the files, references and other materials you use frequently within arm’s length — and moving the things you don’t use as often out of prime spots. In my book Personal Productivity Secrets: Do What You Never Thought Possible With Your Time and Attention … And Regain Control of Your Life, I advise creating Archive Files of materials you can’t discard but that don’t need to clutter your your primary work area.
I don’t, however, recommend putting your office cleanup on your calendar as the article suggests because it won’t actually make you tackle the task. (Read more about why I believe traditional time management thinking like this is out of step with today’s workplace.) The important thing is that you give the job your full attention whenever you do work on it, even if that’s for five or 10 minutes at a time. Close your email, silence your phone and eliminate all other distractions. Then break your workspace cleanup into smaller projects to handle one at a time.
Still procrastinating? I like the idea of using a timer, as productivity expert Laura Stack suggests in the U.S. News article. For example, if you have lots of papers on your desk, put them in one large pile or a box. Create a recurring task to set a timer for five or 10 minutes every day and work through the pile until it’s gone. You’d be surprised at how much progress you can make in a short amount of time.
When you declutter your workspace and organize it to support your needs, you’re setting the stage for greater productivity — and happiness! — at work. For more organization tips to inspire your office cleanup, check out my articles on Throttle (a great tool for taming your email) and on how your workspace affects your mindset. My Personal Productivity Secrets book also devotes a chapter to clearing your space.