By now, there’s no avoiding Marie Kondo and her magical art of tidying up. She’s fully turned our lives upside down and inside out and she’s shaking every last piece of hoarded junk from our clammy, nervous, fear-of-needing-it-later grasp.
Based loosely on the idea that if the things you possess no longer spark joy, thank them for their service and drop them off at the nearest Goodwill.
And for many of us, it’s working.
It’s remarkable that many of us just needed the push to pay our respects to our old things to finally let them go. So, while you’ve been throwing out t-shirts you’ve had since high school and chucking college tchotchkes, you’ve probably neglected to tackle your workspace.
We get it, workspaces are sacrosanct – they can be messy for a reason. Geniuses have messy workspaces! There’s a method to the madness (or maybe not)!
However, just as too much clutter can cloud our personal lives and leave us feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, so can clutter in our workspaces.
Personally, I advocate an empty desk.
When I’ve worked in offices, teammates have marveled at my non-commitment to my workspace. How can you keep your space so empty? Don’t you have any pictures of dogs or loved ones? Does anyone love you? For me, an empty desk is like a primed, blank canvas; it’s the optimal space for discovery and imagination.
However, my Mac’s desktop is another story. Loose Word docs (Who the eff uses Word docs?!), random screenshots of closed-captioned scenes from Law & Order: SVU, screen grabs of Tweets I want to reference (For what? For whom?), and PDFs storing confirmation emails for things I’ve received long ago.
Bottom line, I’m hoarding digital garbage and it’s stressing me out.
Most of us know the feeling. We’re holding on to past work for previous clients, drafts of projects that never came to fruition, JPEGs by the tens of thousands for garbage pictures we’re never going to edit, extremely old expense reports, abandoned Keynote presentations, and bookmarks by the million for sites we think we’ll be revisiting.
So, what to do? Do just as Marie Kondo asks and determine if these assets spark joy. No? Take them to the trash.
Okay, maybe not all files spark “joy,” but not all are necessary – stop making promises to yourself. Keep files that you’ll really need – such as current work, work you want to keep for your portfolio, and any client records that you’re legally required to protect. For personal items, keep tax returns and ditch the photos of people who are no longer in your life.
There, that’s a start.
Here’s a good rule of thumb I live by as a writer – never keep notes for ideas. Notes are excuses. Notes are lazy. They are reminders of ideas you pretend you’ll keep for another time. However, by the time you return, the idea’s different, gone, or irrelevant.
Want to increase productivity? Make the idea actionable the moment it comes to you and give yourself a firm 24-hour deadline. If you haven’t moved on it, toss it.
By the way, as of this writing, I still have a semi-cluttered digital desktop, but I don’t have any notes. I’m a work in progress and maybe a genius.