Cluttered desk, cluttered mind
Do you find yourself easily distracted at work? Your desk space may have more to do with that than you think. Having piles of notes, office supplies and other items laying around your desk can draw the eye in every direction except the direction of the work in front of you.
By embracing some more minimalist tendencies, you may find it easier to stay focused. Here are some tips to get you started:
Let go of old paper files
If you’re legally required to keep them around for a certain number of years, scan them in within 30 days of creation and invest in a cloud account for digital storage. Otherwise, shred those bad boys.
Minimize knick-knacks on desks
Also, maximize your layout. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have some personal mementos on your desk. They bring some personality to your corner of the office, and they can serve as icebreakers with your coworkers.
However, there can be too much of a good thing.
Try and pair it down to one professional and one personal memento.
Audit the tools you have at your desk
If you don’t use it once a week, you probably don’t need immediate access to it. Once you have that toolset narrowed down, try to keep things in designated spaces. Patterns creates familiarity, which reduces the feeling of clutter from the things you do keep on your desk or in a drawer.
Avoid notebook sprawl
Between the office supply closet and the free supply of paper at conferences and meetups, there’s no shortage of places to store your notes. Give yourself a structure, and stick to it, to avoid having notes in ten places.
Throw any unused notebooks in a drawer; you’ll need them eventually.
Remember, sticky note pads create clutter too. Unless you’re about that Agile developer life, make sure you only have one set on your desk. Don’t paint your desk in them either; try to use them for the shortest-term tasks that occur in a day, and transcribe them elsewhere if the task goes on past that.
Beware of the multi-screen setup
As someone whose day job primarily focuses on data analysis, a multi-screen setup is a wonderful gift for efficiency. However, it can be easy to fill those screens with clutter, like social media and news articles. Before you begin a task, step back and ask yourself how many screens you really need to get a task done. Then, set yourself up accordingly. A little mindfulness goes a long way.
Screen clutter is space clutter, too
Another bad habit of which I am guilty is saving lots of one-off files to my desktop. These can create clutter, fast! If you like having them on hand in your desktop, at least keep them all in a “temporary files” folder so they waste less visual space on your home screen. Also, try not to keep a ton of tabs open at once. Save links to read later in a separate later; leaving them open just creates another distraction.
Less is more
As you’re working through these starting points, you’ll notice that mindfulness, combined with some systematic behavior, is the key to keep things organized and simplified. Keep that in mind, and you’ll find plenty of other ways to minimalize your office space!