Does your workspace make you feel stressed or distracted? Do you suspect that you could be more productive than you actually are?
If the answer to these two questions is a resounding “Yes”, then let me ask just one more question: Is your workspace cluttered?
This may seem irrelevant, after all, plenty of people work in chaos. However, researchers have found that physical clutter can negatively affect your mood, resilience and ability to work productively and efficiently. It can become difficult to focus on just one thing when there are many things lying around competing for your attention. You may even start to feel that things are spiralling out of your control. There is always something else needing your attention in any business but if most of the attention-seeking things are spread around your office in plain sight, you will possibly begin to feel overwhelmed. You might be tempted to multi-task although doing so will negatively impact on your productivity.
I guess I paint a bleak picture but never fear, it is relatively straightforward to break the cycle.
First of all, dedicate a small amount of time each day to getting your work area under control. Put away things you don’t need to work on today, or this week. Go through everything and ruthlessly chuck out things you don’t need, file things you need to keep but don’t need on your desk. Organise the things you do need in a way that makes sense for you and your business. Once you have got things under control, keep them that way by having a daily or weekly tidy up to ensure things don’t get out of hand again.
Don’t forget your electronic clutter. Set up files that make sense for your business and use them. Keep your inbox under control. Unsubscribe if you don’t read that email newsletter. Delete things that don’t need retention (newsletters, Amazon offer emails, items you’ve answered but don’t need to keep). File the things you do need to keep. I have more advice about Inboxes in this blog if this is the area you are struggling with the most.
Lists and Notes
Use a To-Do List and don’t overload it. I’ve written on this subject here and here and I do tend to bang on about this. However, a long To-Do list is almost as distracting as a cluttered workspace. A To-Do List, marked up with the priorities for each task on the list, can keep you organised, your work on track and help you to feel in control of your workload. You will be more productive as a result.
If you are a person who tends to write things on bits of paper as you go about your day, try using one notebook for this purpose and always have it with you. This ensures that you don’t add to the clutter in your workspace by having Post-it notes, and scrappy bits of paper all over the place, competing for your attention.
Capturing routine information throughout the day without reacting to it straight away can also help you to feel more in control of your work. If you allocate time at the end of the day to go through the things you have captured and put them into your diary or To-Do list as appropriate, you will feel much more in control of your workload.
Once your workspace is more organised your productivity should begin to increase and you should start to feel more in control of your workload too.
If you would like more help to organise your workspace to help you become more productive, get in touch for a chat.