I’ve been working on a new book for several months now. Even though it’s something I’m really excited about, there are times when it feels overwhelming.
While personal situations and the pandemic make it easy to come up with excuses to put my project on the back burner, it’s time to get it done.
But as I evaluated my workspace, I realized I needed to make some physical changes to facilitate more productive workflow, focus, and energy as I write my book.
The small changes I made have already created big results. Here’s what I did – and what I encourage you to do, too!
1. Clear EVERYTHING off of your desk (including personal photos, trinkets, clutter, etc.) and start from scratch.
Replace only the vital supplies and tools you use on a daily basis. Take a good look at your setup and decide if it promotes productivity and a good workflow. If not, try a new arrangement.
Evaluate your personal effects and ask yourself if these things actually inspire you when you look at them, or if they’re clutter that drains your energy and sabotages your productivity.
Consider these clutter stats:
- 80% of the clutter in your home or office is a result of disorganization, not a lack of space.
- Getting rid of clutter could eliminate 40% of your housework in an average home. (Imagine what this could do for you in the office!)
Even if you find yourself missing your personal photos, trinkets, or the fingerpainting your child did at preschool, give yourself a week or two to experience the space without them. Think about what items matter most, and only replace those.
2. Create permanent homes for the paperwork and files that are cluttering your desktop.
Even the most organized admin sometimes gets behind with filing. Make an effort to spent 15-20 minutes each day filing, or creating files for the items that need to be saved. Toss or shred what you don’t need.
Many people (myself included) suffer from a perfectionist mindset when it comes to filing: If you can’t perfectly label it when you create it, you put off creating it completely. Here are two ways to overcome this.
- Get a label machine. These little inventions are awesome! Just type in the label and print it on the spot.
- Recognize that even handwritten tabs are better than the clutter created by the piles of unfiled paper on your desk. It doesn’t have to look perfect. Plus, you’ll be able to find the information much quicker if it has a designated home.
- We spend one whole year of our lives just looking for lost items.
- As a whole, Americans spend nine million hours each day trying to find something that’s misplaced.
3. Add a green plant or floral arrangement to your workspace.
It’s amazing what a difference this simple change can make. Green plants are typically inexpensive, and most are easy to care for. Want to add some color? Grab a nice pot or planter. When you see fresh flowers on sale at the supermarket, grab some! Always keep a small vase at the office for your latest bouquet.
Plants aren’t just an appealing office decoration – they actually help clean the air in an enclosed office space. Studies have also shown that they increase productivity and reduce stress !
Not up for caring for a living thing at the office? Even a nice silk arrangement can perk up your workspace and your mood.
4. Reorganize your desk drawers and file drawers.
Do you have a junk drawer in your desk? Most of us do, but it’s just a waste of space. Take a few minutes to empty it out completely. Only replace the items that you use on a daily basis. Leave the other items in a box near your desk for a week. If you haven’t used something in that time span, you probably don’t need it. Donate it or throw it away.
Are you constantly having to walk across the office to retrieve the files you often use? If so, think about how you can rearrange your space so that they’re in arm’s reach.
Consider ridding yourself of old files that you don’t use anymore. Not only does it allow you to permanently free up space, but shredding old files can be very therapeutic!
5. Rearrange the furniture (if you can).
This may not be practical for some office spaces, but if it is, give it a try. Sometimes moving a small file cabinet, floor plant, or chair near your workspace can create a different traffic pattern for people walking through your area. This can reduce distractions and provide better workflow for you. Be willing to ask for what you need if there is something you know will make you more productive.
6. Add some light.
I never used to be a fan of desk lights, but now I can’t work without them. I’m one of the few people who loves fluorescent lighting. The brighter and whiter it is, the better – at least when I’m working. But the soft, warm light of a desk lamp casts a very welcoming glow in your workspace that you may find uplifting.
If I have to spend 8-10 hours a day at my desk, I want it to be a place where I can feel comfortable while also achieving maximum productivity. Keep in mind, blue lights increase productivity and alertness, while yellow lights promote relaxation. Do what works best for you!
7. Go shopping!
Yes, you heard me right. Pull out the office supply catalog or walk up and down the aisles at your favorite office supply store. You’ll more than likely find some tools that will help you achieve maximum efficiency in your newly reworked space.
My most recent shopping trip yielded an additional trashcan, a desktop sorter with drawers, and a new laptop stand. It wasn’t excessive, but it was exactly what I needed to finish off my change of space.
Ready to Get Started?
By making a few small, low-cost changes to my work environment, I’ve gone from overwhelmed to energized, and I’m excited to get back to my book project. These easy changes were just what I needed to get back on track – and I bet they’ll work for you, too!
© 2022 Julie Perrine International, LLC
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures.