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Small Business Tuesday – How to organise your workspace!

Today, I would like to share my frustrations with my cluttered workspace! Overtime, my desk becomes full of notes, lego creations my son makes me, bills, odd and ends.. you name it, it ends up cluttering my think space! So I set out to minimise this clutter and organise my space so this stops happening!!! For anyone else interested, here’s how I created myself the perfect oasis for creative thinking and productivity in my home office!

The first step for you to consider in de cluttering any space is your requirements for working or using the space, what’s essential to your workflow? If it’s possible, streamline and simplify that workflow. Then, once you’ve got that down to a minimum, see what the minimum setup would be for those essentials and your work flow! Eliminate everything and anything deemed unnecessary and distracting!


image via: kattyschiebeck.com/

image via: kattyschiebeck.com/

What are your requirements?

It’s interesting to observe what you think your requirements are turn out to be not the bare minimum necessary! They might just turn out to be just what you’re used to doing!

Me for an example, I used to work with tons of papers, files, sticky notes and all the usual office tools, (pens, pencils, notebooks, pads, stapler, hole punch, whiteout, calendar, etc) But soon realised as I was tidying up that it’s possible to work without paper, and I’ve eliminated the need for most everything cluttering my desk space. In fact, as I’ve eliminated the need for paper, I’ve eliminated the need for drawers!

Now, you might not have the luxury, and I’m not saying you need to go that extreme! Your needs may be different than mine, but the point is to see if it’s possible to change the way you work so that you still get the essentials done, without all the same requirements. It’s worth some thought and when you make changes, as I did, you might find that changing things in small increments is better!


Steps to creating your own Minimalist, Organised Workspace!

Once you’ve determined your minimum requirements, here are some tips for making your home office as minimalist and as organised as possible! Not all these tips will work for you, so pick and choose which ones will work best for your workflow! For the next week be mindful of what you use, how you use it and how you can become more efficient in your home office!


1. Have one inbox! If paper is a part of your life, keep and inbox tray and make sure ALL papers, including phone messages and sticky notes go in this tray. Don’t leave papers scattered all over your desk, unless you’re actually working on them at this moment. You might also have a working file folder for papers you’re working on but not at this moment, but put this working file in a drawer, so it’s out of the way. Clear out your inbox everyday! Nothing should go back in there after you process them. It’s not a storage bin, but an inbox!


2. Clear your desktop! Aside from your computer, your inbox tray, your phone and maybe a nice photo of a loved one, there should be nothing on top of your desk. No papers, no notes, no stapler or pens or other junk. Clear as much of it as humanly possible. If you want to include a couple other essentials, you should, but be sure they’re absolutely necessary for your workflow! Keep it as clear as possible, as a clear desk is a relaxing, distraction free workspace!


3.Get rid of knick-knacks. This goes with the above item, but many people don’t even think about all the little trinkets they have on top of their desk. They’re usually unnecessary. Don’t be scared! You’ll feel much better without them!


4. Clear the walls! Many people have all kinds of stuff posted on their walls. It creates visual clutter. Get them off your walls. If it’s a reference guide, put it on your computer and set up a hotkey so you can call the guide up with a keystroke when needed.


5. Clear your computer’s desktop. Are you one of the many people who have tons of icons on their computer desktop? It’s the same principle as a real desktop! Clear it of everything unnecessary so you can have a nice simple workspace. Keeping your icons on your desktop is usually inefficient. It’s hard to find them among a jumble of files. If they’re necessary to open many times a day file them away and use a hotkey to call them up!  Try Quicksilver for Mac or Autohotkey for Windows!


6. Re-examine your paper needs. I started doing this a couple weeks ago, and one by one I realised I could eliminate my different needs for paper. I stopped printing stuff to read (duh!) and just kept it on the computer. I also stopper keeping paper copies of files I had on the computer, as they just took up more space. Also fairly obvious, perhaps. I stopped bills and notices coming in by paper that I could via email or online. I stopped catalogs and newsletters coming in by mail that I don’t need. You might not be able to eliminate paper all together, but you can probably reduce it!


7. Eliminate unnecessary tools! Think about each tool you have in or on your desk, in your work area and around your office. Do you need a stapler and hole puncher? Do you need all those pens? Do you need a fax machine? When’s the last time you used your scanner? If you can’t remember the last time you used these tools, it’s a sure thing to eliminate them from your workspace! Now, for everything else you may seldom use, is there a smaller alternative available? Can you do without them?


8. Simplify your filling. As mentioned above, it’s unnecessary to keep paper copies of files you have on your computer or can access online. Back stuff up online if you’re worried about losing them! Having stuff digitally makes them searchable, which is much better than filing! Just archive and search when necessary! If you do need paper files keep them alphabetically and file immediately so that you don’t have a huge “to be filled” pile. Once every few months, weed out the unnecessary files.


9. Go through each and every drawer. One by one, take out all the contents and eliminate everything you don’t need. It’s much nicer to use drawers if you can open them and see order. Have a designated spot for each item and place them close to where you use them so there’s no excuse not putting it back where it belongs!


10. Use a minimalist desk. I use a table as I don’t need drawers. While you might not want to go that extreme, you can find or build a desk without too many drawers or contraptions. Simple as possible is best!



Freelance Graphic Designer and Web Developer living in the sunny Hawke's Bay region of New Zealand.

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