With the Marie Kondo series on Netflix, tidying up is definitely trending right now. Today is National Clean Off Your Desk Day and we are inspired to take a look at our own workspaces to see how we can declutter. Whether you’re naturally a more neat or messy person, there’s no argument that a minimalist workspace will increase your focus and productivity. While we may not be hugging our staplers and wondering whether they “spark joy” like Marie Kondo recommends, this is a good time of year to refresh your work environment to ensure it’s a place that fosters creativity and allows you to get the job done.
As we navigate through our work days, there are so many tools and processes in place to help us stay efficient. Whether you need to organize your physical desktop or your digital desktop (or both), we’ve got some suggestions for areas to tidy up so that you can stay streamlined and reduce stress as you hustle through the workday.
If you’re visiting a website more than twice during the workweek, then you should probably have it bookmarked somehow. Strategically bookmarking and categorizing those bookmarked websites will save you a great deal of time as you cruise through your browser tabs. Another great feature that most browsers offer, is choosing the set of pages that open at startup. Most working professionals will open a certain selection of tabs as they start their day (Think email, calendar, time tracking software, or dashboards). If you automate these tabs to open automatically when you start your browser, you’ll save time and set yourself up for success from the beginning of your day.
Raise your hand if a cluttered computer desktop gives you anxiety? You’re not alone! This is one of the most common forms of digital clutter that even some of the most organized people can’t seem to wrangle. Even if the first step is creating folders that live on your desktop for those frequently scattered files, that’s a step in the right direction! Some websites even offer desktop wallpapers that help you organize the files that live in the familiar “junk drawer” of our computers. It’s also helpful to clean off your desktop the same way you’d clean off the desk you sit at. Go through your folders and files weekly to see if anything can be categorized elsewhere.
Organizing your digital assets is so vital to staying organized. Make sure files are named clearly and categorized into folders that make sense. If color coding or tagging your folders or files is an option on your interface, use it to your advantage to keep everything user-friendly. Emptying out your Downloads folder or digital trash can will also free up space on your computer. Once you have an established system for organizing digital assets, you’ll be more inclined to adhere to that system as you add more files or photos to your reserve.
An unorganized email inbox can quickly lead to chaos. If your emails aren’t organized you could easily miss out on an important business opportunity or project deadline. If you’re using Gmail there are so many tools within the app that can help you categorize, filter and streamline your email process. If inbox zero is your goal for 2019, you’ll want to explore all the organizational options that your email server offers - there may be some you don’t even know about yet! Another great tool to support your email efficiency is establishing canned emails. When you find yourself writing the same email over and over, that’s a good indicator that it’s something you could create a canned response for that will save you time. Canned responses don’t have to feel impersonal, you can always add to the main body to make sure it still feels genuine.
Whether it’s a digital calendar or a traditional one, keeping up with your schedule and planning your days are a huge pillar of staying organized in a professional setting. If you’re already on the Gmail app, utilizing Google Calendar complements this perfectly. Google Calendar lets you color coordinate, set reminders, and take notes on your upcoming events. A great way to set yourself up for success in the new year using your calendar is to log any important dates for the year ahead that you know of right now, whether it’s a graduation, baby shower, or birthday. That way you keep your personal life as a priority when the work obligations begin to pop up.
And of course, once you’ve established a decluttered digital workspace, cleaning off your desk should follow suit. Sift through all papers, receipts, or post its that might have piled up before the new year and toss anything that doesn’t need to be kept. Test your pens or highlighters to make sure they haven’t dried out, and refill your stapler or your tape dispenser to make sure you’re starting this year out set up for success. If you return to the same desk each day, you may want to invest in some type of decor that brings you joy. Whether it’s a candle, a salt lamp or a photo of your dog, add something that makes you smile to brighten up your workspace.
In honor of National Clean Off Your Desk Day, take these tips and use them to hit the restart button on your internal organizational processes. You won’t regret setting aside the time to declutter your life and establish a system that allows you to be productive and feel good about your workspaces.
Story By: Sophie Duncan