Our work environment affects our minds and moods, whether we work in an office or from home. It’s essential to declutter your workspace, from your desk to your virtual workspace or desktop, to support your mental and physical well-being.
Find out why tidying your work-spaces is a good idea and get helpful tips on how to do so.
Our Work-spaces and Well-being
‘Declutter to support well-being’ might sound like a tall claim, but research by Libby Sander and others shows it’s grounded in fact. In the Harvard Business Review, she explained that their research showed that our physical environments have a profound impact on our behaviour, cognition and emotions. This, in turn, influences our relationships with others and the way we make decisions.
What’s more, clutter can affect how we eat, sleep and our ability to stay focused. Clutter can also heighten our stress and anxiety levels. As well as affecting us physically and mentally, mess and mayhem in the work environment can affect us in other ways, productivity being one of them.
According to Libby, we lose 2 minutes of work every time we look for a lost piece of paper on a messy desk and up to 2 hours a week by looking for lost digital documents.
A cluttered workspace, whether physical or virtual, obviously isn’t an ideal situation. Let’s explore ways in which you can fix that. We’ll start with your physical workspace.
Tips For Decluttering Your Desk
Taking some time to declutter your workspace will enhance your productivity in the long run, and it will reduce the chance of burnout, too. These are easy ways to make a big difference.
- Identify What’s Necessary
One of the most challenging parts of decluttering a desk or office is knowing where to begin. Start by identifying the necessities—all the items you regularly use to complete your various tasks. Those are the items that you want to keep in easy reach. The rest of it is clutter, and you’ll need to put some of it in drawers or cabinets, on shelves or in the bin.
- Clear the Paper
Office desks seem to be magnets for documents and other bits and pieces of paper that served their purpose days, weeks and possibly even months ago. Go through everything and bin what you don’t need. If it’s not necessary, get rid of it—and be merciless. Put any documents or papers you need to keep into files or filing cabinets in an order that makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.
- Create Desk Zones
Create different zones on your desk or in your office to help you organise and prioritise your tasks. Having various desk zones can help you make mental and physical shifts as your workflow changes through the day.
For example, you can have zones for answering emails, face-to-face meetings, video calls, research, writing or other tasks.
- Dump the Lunchtime Look
If your desk doubles as your personal canteen, complete with plates, cutlery, food containers and food, it’s time to change that. Should you need or prefer to use your own knife, fork, spoon, bowl and plate, keep them stored in your desk, a cupboard or a locker when you’re not using them. If possible, keep the food you bring to work packed away or in the office fridge.
What’s more, don’t eat your lunch at your desk and don’t work through your lunch. If there’s a canteen, employee lounge or dining room, patio with tables and chairs or another area for staff, eat your lunch there or even in a nearby park. Take a break; give your mind and body a rest, and enjoy your meal.
- Spring Clean Your Desk
Give your desk a spring clean after decluttering it. Clean your computer keyboard with a keyboard air gun and clean your monitor with a specially formulated screen cleaner and a soft cloth.
Use an eco-friendly all-purpose cleaner or disinfectant wipes to get rid of spill marks, dirt and bits of grime. Dust your desk and the various items on it and vacuum your chair or clean it with a cloth. Finally, empty your bin.
Now that we’ve got your physical desk clean, it’s time to get started on your virtual desktop!
Tips For Decluttering Your Virtual Workspace
Use the following tips to declutter your virtual workspace.
- Identify What’s Necessary On Your Desktop
An easy way to start getting your virtual desktop in order is by adopting a File or Delete approach. Delete any files and folders you don’t need, create files for documents you do need and file everything that needs filing.
- Declutter Your Inbox
Improve your productivity by sorting out your inbox. Create folders for the emails you want to save and move the relevant ones to those folders. Delete the emails you no longer need. If your inbox has sub-folders such as Promotions and Social, delete anything you don’t need and move the rest to folders. Get into the habit of keeping your inbox decluttered. It’s also a great idea to unsubscribe from any mailing lists and newsletters you don’t read.
- Clean Out Your Download Folder
Many of us leave the download folders on our computers and other devices to become a cluttered mess. Sort through the files and delete any that are unnecessary. Doing this will make it easy to find the files you need when you need them.
- Empty the Recycle and Trash Bins
It’s easy to forget about the Recycle and Trash bins on your desktop, but doing so can slow down your computer. Empty the bins regularly, as decluttering them can give your desktop more storage space.
- Uninstall Apps You Don’t Use
The apps you don’t use are taking up storage space that you can put to better use. Go through the apps on your devices and determine which you use often enough to warrant keeping or are necessary.
If you’ve downloaded any games like Sudoku, check to see if they are available online. If they are, you can delete the desktop version and play in your web browser instead.
Create A Consistently Fresh Workspace
A chaotic, cluttered workspace negatively affects productivity and adversely influences your mindset. Make keeping your physical and virtual workspaces uncluttered a priority, and you’ll feel refreshed and ready to tackle whatever comes your way. As soon as you notice the clutter accumulating, take action!