The one who strives to be efficient must have space to work in. If there is not enough space it will be difficult to spread out all our material to get a better overview. Some of us get another screen to see more simultaneously. Others empty their desk.
In order to get things done quickly and easily we want to be able to focus on the task we are working on. Notifications that pop up, open windows containing irrelevant information, documents and ”will do soon”-things which just lie about distracts us and spoils our concentration.
”But when will I have time?”
If we currently have little or no desk-space free from clutter, and have many distractions at that, we need to clear the desk. It might feel overwhelming and close to impossible if the room is crowded by piles and things, and can be described using words such as chaos, bombshell and the destruction of Jerusalem.
Do not despair. It is not as hard as it seems. You just need to be patient. If you want to create a better structure with regards to how you store your physical materials such as papers, books, binders, printed material, documentation and all the other things you have in your office or on you desk, then the first step is to clean and clear it up. Because you only want to spend you time structuring and organizing things which are actually useful to you, right?
Don’t sweat it
The great thing about doing this is that you do not have to do it all at once. You can even skip making it into a to-do-task or project, but rather let it happen on its own. It is completely alright that you do not get rid of ”enough” during your first round of cleaning up, since you will soon feel motivated to clean out a little more once you have started to throw things away. You could call it a snowball-effect, clean- and clear-acceleration, or whatever you want — the point is that over time, you will have less and less things cluttering your space.
- Reserve a half-hour or define a small part of the space you would want to clean up (for instance one shelf in the bookcase, one drawer, the small side-table). If something appears overwhelming at first glance, it is often much easier to get started if we begin by taking a small step.
- Now start cleaning and clearing out. If you feel hesitant about something, save it. You can look things through again (at least) once more some another time and throw more things away then. Put what you have cleared out in three separate piles: ”throw away”, ”give away”, and ”return”. Focus on clearing out rather than for instance going over to your colleague in the middle of your cleaning-spree to return what he left in your office. The items you get rid of could for instance be:
- things which you no longer need and therefore can throw away
- things you planned on reading but probably will not read
- things others could find useful and which you could either give a colleague or place wherever you keep shared materials and tools so that more people can use it
- things which have accidentally ended up in your room but which are not yours
- decorations which you no longer find decorative
- souvenirs and keepsakes that no longer trigger happy memories
- When you consider yourself done (that is, when the half-hour is up or when the part you wanted to clean out is done), determine what your next step should be. Either you carry the three piles out of your office immediately or you do so when it suits you better, such as when you are on your way out and will pass the garbage-room anyway, or when you know you will meet the colleague who will find what you want to get rid of useful.
- Do not make a plan to clean more now, but trust that you will eventually feel like continuing cleaning and cleaning up more.
Less looking, more focus
If you clear your desk or office out just a little you will have more space for what truly matters in your work. You will find what you are looking for much faster and it will undoubtedly be much easier to concentrate on the task before you. If you ask me, things simply get easier, lighter and smoother.
What is your way?
What is your best tip to cleaning and clearing out your work-space? If you feel like sharing your thought, leave a comment.