See that desk pictured above? That is the desk in my home office – on a good day. The only thing missing is the cat who likes to sit on the keyboard or in front of the computer screen.
One key component to time management is a clean, efficient workspace – obviously NOT the above. You may use folders and file cabinets to keep everything straight, or have neat piles of documents where you know items are located. Either way, your workspace must cut the clutter to save time.
Ironically, when I worked in a cubicle, I had an incredibly-organized space. When I lost my job, had to move and started working from home as a freelancer, my workspace went to clutter hell.
I’ve noticed a dramatic decline in effective time management since. Not only is it difficult to find files, but the clutter gives me a sense of frenzy. It makes me go a little bit haywire while I try to complete my work. (Don’t even ASK if I can find my task list – my go-to daily checklist of MUST DOs.)
Since I live with my parents, I now have to contend with office clutter that is not my own. (I also have to fight for time on my own computer, otherwise face a guilt trip, but that is a soapbox for another time.) I also have cats that really enjoy knocking things off of my desk.
For too long, though, I allowed these things to keep me from organizing. I figured, Why bother? Someone else will just mess it up, anyway. That mind set helped lead to a lot of bitterness and discontentment – emotions that bleed into other areas of life.
So, I took a self-appointed challenge to DO something about my workspace clutter. I cannot control others (outside of fiction), but I CAN control what I do. By organizing my files, books, pens, etc., and weeding out personal items from my office space, I can have that sense of purpose each day I go to work – the same successful attitude that carried me through Cubicle Country.
What I’m doing:
Purging. If I don’t need it, it is GONE. I think this would have been a more difficult task had I not gone through a major book purge this summer, selling and donating 500 books from my overstuffed shelves. Thanks to this experience, I can more easily deal with attachment issues to books, DVD, office supplies, electronics, hardcopy emails, and those old items that just might be used someday. Purging doesn’t mean you have to throw items away. Give them to friends, donate them to Salvation Army stores or Goodwill. Some like-new or new items could be sold on eBay or Amazon for a little extra cash.
Purchasing gear. I cleaned off a large bookshelf next to my desk (not photographed because it was messier than the desk.) I sold some DVDs on Amazon, moved the others to a recreational shelf and kept only tomes I need for work time. I purchased some wicker baskets that fit into bookshelves and plan to organize office items into them – which will offer a much neater finish than the haphazard array of notebooks, books, DVDs, papers, puzzles, pens, pencils and stuffed toys.
Daily cleanup. I’m not doing very well at this right now. My only excuse is that I have no idea where to go with what’s left from the bookshelf and the desk piles. I also have a few plastic tubs that need to be stored somewhere other than underneath this desk. However, I know from experience that a daily desk clean up helps tremendously. What worked for me: Wrap up as many items as I could before closing time. Leave a pile of files, plus a checklist for the next day’s work. File items that were no longer needed. Purge anything extra.
What is your office space like? Are you filled with clutter or terrific at The Purge? How does clutter impact your management of time? What tips can you offer to de-clutter for better time management?
Articles worth a look:
Rid Your Workspace of Clutter (eZine.com)
Too Much Clutter in Your Life? (Discover-Time-Management.com)
A De-Cluttered Office Skyrockets Productivity (Buzzle.com)
Stop Clutter from STealing Your Life by Mike Nelson is a terrific read about why people clutter, and how to deal with the emotional aspects of it before purging.