How to Declutter in 7 Steps
Can you find the top of your desk? If not, read this article to find tips on how to declutter your workspace.
When was the last time you saw the top of your desk?
If it has been a while, you will want to follow these tips on how to declutter your workspace. There are so many benefits in having a decluttered work area, but I think the most important of all is the sense of being clear-minded, of being able to focus on what needs to get done without the distractions (and reminders to clean up!) that every piece of paper or misplaced object creates. On top of that, there’s no more wasted time searching for things you need, being able to open all your materials for that project we’re working on and, of course, feeling great when someone shows-up for a visit!
Ok, so where and how do we start to declutter?
1. Accept You’ll Stop and Organize
In this great interview by Linda Samuels with productivity expert David Allan, he explains that to get organized; we have to make peace with what’s NOT being done. So, accept that to organize your space you’ll have to stop everything else for some time and tackle the “monster.”
2. Create Your Vision
How do you want your desk to look like? Look at your desk and identify what bothers you the most. Do you have piles of paper that need to get to your filling cabinet, dirty coffee mugs and a computer screen covered in sticky notes as “reminders”? Start with what is simple to decide: trash and clutter. Toss what’s trash, remove items that don’t belong in your office by placing them in a box or bag so you can remove them out of your workspace. What’s left is what matters for the function of this space, anything else is clutter.
3. Tackle the Papers
Start with the papers you want to file. Add an inbox where you will place all incoming paperwork. At this point focus on having at least one place to have all incoming mail, papers you need to review or work to do. Having more trays would be great to separate the papers you need to address and those you need to file, but you may want to start this way and not get overwhelmed by a whole new system.
As you go through the papers in the inbox, separate what needs to be addressed now, those that have important due dates as well as those that have important contact information. Now that you have “collected” everything, write every meeting information in your calendar, add contact information to your address book or card file – or simply use a ziplock type bag to collect all these cards, and either file the paper where it belongs or get rid of it.
5. Filing Your Papers
Create a simple filing system to keep important papers. This could include a tickler filing system that you will look at when the day begins. A tickler file is a 31-day system that allows you place papers you will need for the future. It is a reminder system to ensure you handle future items on time. Once you have your system in place, use it daily to keep papers from piling up again.
6. Organize Office Supplies
Now, clear the desk of all other items and decide to create a specific home for each one. I like to keep everything in drawers or cabinets. I have one drawer for office supplies I frequently use and all the extras go in a cabinet nearby. It makes keeping the desk clear of clutter a lot easier, and you’ll always know how much you have by seeing it all organized in one spot.
7. Keep At It
Once you have your desk cleared off and organized let the feeling of accomplishment and the pleasure of a beautiful space be your motivators to help you keep it that way. Things will “try” to keep coming back, but now you have a place for everything, and if you take 15 minutes at the end of each day to clear off your desk, you’ll be able to maintain your space organized. Try to keep your desk clear of clutter for a week before you begin focusing on the next area of your workspace that is cluttered.
These tips on how to declutter your workspace are by no means exhaustive, but they will get you started and clear your workspace from the overwhelming clutter that can be paralyzing and prevent you from getting things done.
Now, keep at it by scheduling regular maintenance and by using these simple tips you just learned! I know you’ll love the result and feel what a difference it can make.