As a rule of thumb, organization and productivity go hand-in-hand. I find, for example, that I’m way more productive both at my full-time job and with my blog when my desk is clean.
But often my desk gets away from me, so to speak. I look around and all I can see is a mess, and suddenly I get anxious and feel like I’m being pulled in 50 different directions.
So, how does one prevent this from happening? There are a few techniques I like to use to clean up my workspace. Plus, if you scroll down, there are some free downloads just for you!
Have a physical inbox
We all have email inboxes, and they’re super handy. But it seems like very few people have physical inboxes on the desk. I’ve recently implemented one, and I love it.
I went to our supply closet at work and found a spare plastic tray. At home, I’ve got one that’s a little fancier from Poppin (#lovethem). In a perfect world, everyone would put papers right in my inbox. But that doesn’t always happen, so whenever I get back to my desk and find a new paper on my chair / desk, I put it right in my inbox.
Then, once per day, I schedule some time to go through everything in my inbox. Some stuff stays in there, some stuff gets taken care of right then and there. Then, I’ve got another hour set aside every Friday to go through the stuff that isn’t pressing but has been put in my inbox throughout the week.
This keeps my desk from being messy while still ensuring that everything gets done!
Keep a microfiber cloth nearby to clean off your screens
One of my best friends Athina sent me a microfiber cloth about a year ago with a map of the Parisian metro system on it. I keep it near my desk with a magnetic chip clip, so every time I notice my laptop or phone screen is dirty, I can take care of it right away.
It seems like a small thing, but having a clean screen can really improve your outlook about work.
Clean off your desk at the end of every day
Even if you just use it as an excuse to stop working five minutes earlier, take my advice on this one. Not only does it motivate you to clean up all of your stuff at least once per day, but it also makes the next morning a touch easier.
At the end of every day, I clean everything off my desk and put it away, whether that means in my inbox, in a folder, or in the recycling. Then, as I’m compiling, I start working on my to do list for the next morning. That gives me a direction as soon as I get in the next morning, so I’m being productive right away.
Only keep the necessities on your computer desktop
Okay, switching over to the technological desktop here. I feel way more productive when I have the bare minimum number of files on my desktop background. There are some forms I need all the time at work: check requests, ticket requests, print requests, etc. Those files stay on the desktop so I always have them within reach. But everything else gets put in its proper folder.
This keeps my computer screen visually (and logically) decluttered, so I always know where everything is. I’m always astounded when I go into my boss’s office and he has his entire computer screen filled with files saved to his desktop. It then takes him five minutes to find a file he just saved. It’s not productive at all!
Keep your desktop background visually decluttered
Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing my coworker’s family photos as their desktop backgrounds. Kids are cute, and I’m sure that’s even more true when they’re your own. But I love a nice, simple background image.
Throughout college, I was obsessed with Simple Desktops. They’ve got a few different artists who create simplified images for desktop backgrounds that you can use for free. I still love them, but I’m not changing it nearly as often as I was in college.
I’ve recently changed my background to a simple C on a grey background. C (obviously) stands for Caitlin, and it’s a simple, professional touch that keeps everything decluttered.
In fact, I like it so much that I’ve made a version of every letter of the alphabet for you to enjoy!
How do you keep your work space clean? Let me know in the comments!