Making your office a refuge instead of a battle-zone

Many people struggle when they get to work. They become distracted or overwhelmed easily.  Their “to do” list grows exponentially for every item that gets checked off. I can relate. Today is a prime example; I have been trying to pull together this blog for about six hours now.  Every time I get started, I get distracted by this space I call an office. My workspace is a cluttered and inefficient. This compelled me to research how to make my office space more conducive to work. So, the order of the day became part writing assignment, part getting organized. (It’s 7:32 p.m. so clearly the organizing took precedence over the writing).

I consulted a number of different websites and watched a few Netlfix episodes featuring organization guru Marie Kondo for some tips.  Some of the advice I found focuses on changing the physical environment, but other tips emphasize organizing oneself to minimize distractions and be a more productive you.

Everyone seems to agree that the first step to getting your office organized is to remove the clutter.  Some advise throwing out anything in your office that you haven’t used in the past year. Kondo advises making your selections on whether or not the items “bring you joy.”  Obviously that 200 page report with notes you are supposed to review may not bring you joy, but you still can’t throw it out. What you should do though is mark it with a plastic tab that is color-coded.  If the project is high priority, then you need to place a red tab on the report. Do that with all your files on your desk, and file away anything that isn’t of use consistently or urgently.

Your desk needs to be a zen space for you, one that makes you relax but also promotes productivity.  Make sure that anything that isn’t going to be of use for the day gets put away. Only have office supplies that are a constant necessity.  The stapler you haven’t used for four weeks can go in your desk. Make sure that you have an empty space where you can spread out anything that needs your attention, and after each task, that space should be cleared.

Make your office a mindful space but also a pleasant warm place, somewhere you want to be.  It is important to be somewhat a minimalist because it helps you to focus on singular projects and work, but it also needs to be a space you enjoy and feel comfortable in.  A memento of family, of vacation, or a hobby is great, just don’t overdo it and make it an homage to everything that isn’t related to work. My dogs are in my office all day, every day and even they have a place for the day (they each have a bed under my desk) - if I’m being honest though, I have to remind them fairly frequently that that’s where they’re supposed to be.

Make sure you have an office chair that has lumbar support and is comfy, but also find a space in your office where you can stand-up for good parts of the day and still work (like when you check and respond to emails). A fancy stand-up desk is nice but milk crates or plastic tubs from your local discount store can be stacked to the height that you need in order to stand (and they store items you may need in the future but not today).

Finally, it is very important that you not only organize your physical space but also your time.  We track all of our time in 10 minute increments, so we’re pretty good about keeping track of our time, but know it can be a struggle for some. Checking email is the number one killer of time and productivity. Divide your day into quarters and then spend a part of each quarter responding to emails. Set a timer and when it is up, go on to one of the zillion other tasks you need to get done. I try to spend some time being mindful of what I spend my time on each day.  Do you check your phone messages 35 times a day? Maybe turn it off while you work on focused priority projects. Do you have work flows that have unnecessary steps that can be reordered?

Take some time to sit and ponder what does and doesn’t work. Being mindful for a couple days on what you are doing with every minute of your day can help you to not only become more productive but happier and less stressed.

Who wouldn’t want a little harmony at work?  Thankfully, a little time spent on organizing your office space and your work processes can be all it takes.

While you’re taking time to review your processes and get things in order, how’s your social media doing? Is it one of those tasks that feels more like a battle and less like harmony? Let us help.