This article is based on SO Productive principles and written by Meredith Zimmer, our Summer Intern. Scroll down for Sarah’s Work Space Checklist!
The general condition of your work environment affects your personal and work productivity. Working in a clustered and messy workspace can lead to more distractions and in most cases, create negative energy.
There are plenty of easy and creative ways to keep your space neat and organized while staying on task.
Some businessmen and women might give excuses about why they have a messy desk area; their space limitations, they don’t have enough time and other conditions that prevent them from continuously cleaning their space.
Even though your work is done mainly on a computer, your entire workstation and desk area should ignite your motivation to be productive.
It is important to have a set workplace (not your bed, sofa, etc.) but a place where you have enough privacy, so that when you sit down, you and your brain automatically know, “it’s time to get to work”.
First Step: Clear the Clutter
No one likes clutter, it’s not nice to look at and you waste precious time looking for that one thing you need. Don’t let your desk become a drop zone and a place where you just leave things piling; like mail and random pieces of paper. Try and organize your workspace for how you like to work. The space should be functional for your everyday habits and tasks. Make your space and your home a sanctuary, make it a space to thrive! If you find yourself getting tired or dread doing work at your work area, the mess and clutter may be causing you anxiety and even overwhelm.
One easy fix to this problem is to take a few moments to clean up your desk at the end of the day so that when you come in tomorrow, your workspace will be already organized and tidy. This will help you be ready to tackle those specific tasks with clean and positive intention. Plus, it leaves less room for distraction.
Organization means having systems, so that your work is in a specific place that means something to you. At all times, you should know what papers you have and what it’s used for. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the average organization spends approximately $120 in labor searching for each misfiled document, and $220 in the re-creation of a document. When things aren’t organized and in a proper place you’re causing yourself unnecessary stress and even sometimes panic. By being organized you can eliminate that feeling of stress when you don’t know or can’t find something you need. Everything should have its own place and have a spot that’s functional and meaningful. By knowing exactly where your things are, it will save you so much time and effort. Just think about it, your brain only has so much space and it can only hold so many things. Clutter is causing your brain to stimulate and fire on things that just don’t matter, so when you try to get anything out of your brain that is mixed with clutter, it negatively impacts you mentality and physically affects you.
When setting up/organizing your workplace, be smart. Have things in your workspace that make you happy, but try to avoid having too many things that might clutter both your space and your mind. Sometimes the things you love can become a big distraction. Decorate with items or artwork that motivate and inspire you. But don’t bring in something that you could stare at for hours.
In an office setting where you’re trying to work; if you have too much clutter around your work space, it becomes so distracting to your brain, you tend to lose that focus you need to get quality work done. Regardless of your preferences or inclinations, your workstation should be set up for the best time management, productivity and, yes, comfort. After all, whether you work in a cubicle or a private office, you may spend more time at your desk than you do in your own bed!
Your setup should not be made for watching Netflix or other streaming services as it would be at home. Remember, an organized desk isn’t just about the aesthetic, it’s also about function. When you’re trying to get things done, it’s a hassle when your supplies are out of order. And if you’re limited on space in your home office area, organization and creative storage become essential.
Tips for a Flawless Setup:
- Just because you have space on your desk, doesn’t mean you have to fill it. Allow for some open space and some room to breathe.
- Organize your files so you don’t have random papers all over. Name your files something of meaning so that anyone would be able to utilize them. We recommend having “to do”, “doing” and “shred” folders. Plus, folders for longer term storage like tax documents. Remember to keep those for 7 years.
- Use drawers and filing cabinets. Go ahead and hide the projects that you are not currently working on. Go back into the drawer to get it when you have finished other tasks.
- Set your space up in zones; books, pens, journals, paperwork, filing cabinets. This method helps you know where items are, so when you need certain things – you know exactly where to find them, quickly and stress-free.
- Make your workspace a distraction-free zone. Consider:
- Noise levels
- People nearby
- Environment issues (temperature, cleanliness, window views etc.)
- TV access
While we love having a dedicated workspace. We also know that creativity soars when you mix it up! If possible, try to change up your work environment at least once a week. This could be, going outside and working in an outdoor setting for a day, changing your office to a different room in your house, or booking a conference room in your office just to change that space. Changing your environment is ideal when you want to hide (yes, hide) from distractions and co-workers. It’s great for deep uninterrupted work. When you need to do a bit more creative work, brainstorm, and think in a different way, by changing your work setting, you can really allow your mind to open and just think differently.
Finally, once you are set up, be honest and ask yourself, “is your setup really working?” Think about how much you’re getting done in your workspace; if you’re working and you are noticing that you’re typing with one hand or you’re trying to balance your laptop, you need to move back to a desk that actually allows you to be more efficient. Remember, changing your space is meant to give you a different set of brain waves to make you more creative. Not, make you less productive!
Workspace Makeover Checklist:
Everyone’s work environment is different, but here are some of Sarah’s favorite workspace must-haves.
Some of the links are to my affiliate sites but I only recommend things I love and use in real life. Think of it as a little way to say thanks to me for helping you finally find the right tools. I appreciate it!
- A dedicated space. I realize not everyone gets a private corner office with a view. But I do want you to have a dedicated space that is yours. Yes, even if you are WFH and it’s just one corner of the dining room table. You need a space to keep supplies and files organized. Plus, you need a place that’s a physical signal to your brain and those around you that it’s time to work.
- SO Productive Daily Planner
- Sign for Your Door
- Pen holder
- Desk organizer
- File folders
- File organizer
- Electronic adjustable height desk
- Outlet desk clamp power strip
- Drawers & file cabinets
- Humidifier with essential oils to help you focus
If you are on camera often:
If you want professional help, from home organizing professionals to interior designers, let us know as we have some great vendors we’d be happy to recommend to you.
Quick Disclaimer: These offers are given to you from the companies, not from SO Productive, LLC. SO Productive, LLC is not responsible for any company products or promotions that may be subject to change. I may earn an affiliate commission from the company if you use these links. So a big thanks if you do!
Cleaning your desk can be the best thing you ever do. It promotes overall health and boosts productivity. Not only you, but your boss and co-workers will be positively affected by your choice to get organized. So, why not just take some extra time to tidy up your space? Whether you’re working from home or in an office setting, these helpful tips will save you time and promote you to be more productive!
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Hi, I’m Sarah
The productivity coach who creates programs for overwhelmed professionals who are ready to say buh bye to stress, anxiety, mental clutter, and analysis paralysis and hello to clarity, purpose, and success.
I bring systems and quick productivity wins to your day so that you can get back control of your time, accomplish more, and be present when you are done at 5.
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