Think for a minute - does your workspace reflect what you do? Does it inspire you? Is it somewhere that you're happy to spend significant amounts of your time? Is your desk in the best place, or would you feel more motivated, or concentrate better if it was somewhere else?
Perhaps more importantly, if your clients could see where you work (maybe they do), does it inspire confidence in your ability to deliver what they need? If not, why not?
What could you do to change that?
If you're working from home, space is likely to be at a premium so you need to get the best use out of every square centimetre.
If you share your office with someone, talk to them about the space, about how it's working and what's in it. Talk to them rather making assumptions. Needs change over time and maybe they don't need as much space as they did previously, or perhaps they'd be prepared to try your suggestions, for doing things a bit differently.
Decide on the essentials - identify those items that you really need in order to do your job and those that you could do without?
Move anything that is not associated with your work, or that you no
longer have use for, out of the space. Remove anything that distracts you from getting on with your work. Be very strict about this (particularly if you work from home), the less you fill your space, the more room you'll have for creativity.
Donate what you don't need - once you have decided on the items that are essential for doing your job, start to think about re homing the rest. Computer equipment in any condition can be donated to WeeeCharity who will collect, refurbish it if necessary and pass it on to those who really need it. Small electrical items can now be put out for collection as part of your weekly rubbish collection (check re cycling regulations in your local area). Local schools on tight budgets are often grateful for any donations of unwanted office equipment, books and stationery, make a quick call to the school office and ask. For more donating ideas, check my previous blog Don't Let It Go To Waste and Terracycle.
Make the important things accessible - it's very difficult to work productively if you can't get to, or even worse, find what you need easily and quickly. Don't store things in piles, store in labelled files boxes, or baskets. Make sure labels are easily visible on anything stored in a cupboard.
Keep on top of paperwork - Action, File, Read or Recycle, keep everything separate from the minute you receive it and it won't pile up. Does it need to be printed in the first place? Can it be scanned or downloaded instead of filing a paper copy? Shred and recycle any papers containing sensitive information, having checked first that it doesn't need to be kept long term.
Progress towards paperless - historically everything was printed and filed, printed was proof! However in the last ten years this has changed drastically. Banking is often electronic now and as many banks are no longer sending out paper statements, they no longer expect you to keep paper copies. Check the requirements for your banks, building, societies, insurance companies and make a note on your phone of how long documents need to be kept and in what format. If you do this, every time you receive communication from these companies, soon you'll be able to check quickly and easily for what needs to be filed as a paper copy and what can be scanned and stored online.
The start of 2020 (a new decade in a new era), is a great time to be reviewing all the files full of paperwork that you've built up over the years. Aim to work on a small amount at a time, if you do little and often the task won't feel boring and/or overwhelming.
Organise your books - I love books but they can take up an enormous amount of space in an office. There will be certain books that you refer to time and time again, (keep these were you can access them easily), equally there will be others that you haven't looked at in the last ten years. Time to let them go, if you ever need information on that subject again, the chances are you can find it online, borrow it from a library, or buy a more up to date book.
Once you've decided which books you're keeping, store them by subject, alphabetical order or even by the colour of the spine, whatever is the most useful and most appealing to you.
Daily ten minute tidy - set the timer on your phone for ten minutes at the end of each working day and do a quick desk or office tidy. Deal with your paperwork, return items to files, boxes and back into cupboards or shelves. Take anything that doesn't belong in the workspace away with you.
Start every new day with a clear desk and a clear mind.
Jo Hall is a Professional Home Organiser and Clutter Free Living expert 🏠
If you would love to have a really good sort out but don't know where to start, or maybe you've made a great start with it, but have since lost your way, Jo can help!
Jo works online with clients worldwide 🌍 via 1:1 sessions, DIY resources and group courses 👩💻 Guiding overwhelmed people to break free from the burden of stuff.
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Photos: All images by Jo Hall featuring Less Is More projects.