Eternal sunshine of the spotless desk

organise your workspace

Did you now a cluttered working environment can stress you out more than the actual workload?

Life as a working mum can be overwhelming enough without creating even more stress so, thanks to Officeworks, we’re sharing insider tips on how to take control of your workspace and open up a whole new world of clarity and productivity.

Professional organiser and declutter expert, Georgie Rees of Clutterfly, is sharing practical tips on decluttering, organising and styling your workspace. While psychologist and founder of The Positivity Institute, Dr Suzy Green, has contributed her insights to help people understand the psychological benefits of a decluttered workspace.

10 ideas to declutter and organise your workspace

1. Start by thinking big!

Clutterfly: Think about the kind of mood you would like to set through colour schemes and designs, and what the key areas are in your space that you would like to improve. This will help give you clarity and provide you with a clear direction to start your overhaul. Make sure you involve any family members or friends sharing the space in the thinking – that way everyone will feel involved.

Dr. Suzy Green says: There are real motivational benefits in creating an inspirational vision of what you desire. Particularly if you then create smaller, specific and shorter term goals that leads to that future. Creating a mood or vision board of your ideal office space can inspire you to take action and help you stay “primed” to find just the right pieces of office furniture or materials you need.

2. Get the order right

Clutterfly: As with any task, you need to do things in an orderly manner to achieve the best results. Start by decluttering your space, getting rid of any obvious excess papers, files and folders on your desk. Once complete, organise what’s left. When your workspace has some structure it will become a much easier and enjoyable place to work. Lastly, and most importantly, maintain this new organised structure you have created. This is the invaluable part, as it will allow you to evolve the organisation of your workspace as and when you need.

Dr. Suzy Green says: There’s significant research to highlight the benefits of an ordered and decluttered environment. Clutter can have a negative impact on sustained attention – a high level of visual stimuli in our environment is naturally going to compete for our attention, meaning it can be difficult to get what we need and quick. This can result in feelings of stress and overwhelm, which should be avoided in any workplace.

3. Systems are your friend

Clutterfly: Even if it’s just you and your laptop, every workspace needs some structure. This stops the buildup of ‘excess’ stuff. Whether it is paper piles or files on the computer, taking the time to create an organised filing system means that access will become so much easier, while saving you valuable time and mental energy. It also creates a better working environment, as you know where certain documents live. Remember to create synergy between your filing systems by keeping the same folder structure and naming method.

4. Encourage empty space and group items

Clutterfly: Leaving ‘empty space’ in a working environment is a good thing. Don’t be tempted to fill a shelf or cover a clear table with magazines for the sake of it. When things are clear and spaced out you have the clarity to find things more easily. Take this concept a step further and group all related things together, so there’s only one place where these items can be. It could be as simple as putting printer supplies and paper next to the printer – you could keep an open ream of paper in an in-tray for ease when the printer runs out of paper. You will be surprised how much time this can save.

Dr. Suzy Green says: Physical space helps provide you with much needed mental space. Clear and decluttered space allows for greater levels of attentional control, so grouping items or having a place for everything will allow for greater levels of productivity and efficiency.

5. Focus on your vertical space

Clutterfly: Walls are often not utilised enough, but they provide a brilliant opportunity to add colour and additional storage to your workspace. If you have a free wall, why not use paint to transform the area. Depending on your overall theme, a pop of colour may be great for creative thinking and a calming pastel tone could be what you need to promote productivity. Utilise this wall further by installing a simple document sorter, a great tool for categorising paperwork. To keep things from cluttering up your desktop, consider adding some drawers underneath – to be extra organised, why not label each draw.

Dr. Suzy Green says: If you choose to use your vertical space for visual inspiration, rather than storage, go for images that support your goals or inspire you. Pictures of friends and family can also provide further positive connotations. If you choose to paint your wall, select a colour that has an impact on you. Colour therapy research suggests that cool colours, like blues and greens, are calming whereas hot colours like reds and oranges can lead to greater levels of energy.

Declutter your workspace

6. Personalise and feel inspired

Clutterfly: Feeling neat and tidy helps give you the focus to do your best work, but you also need to feel inspired. If you’ve chosen a certain theme, pattern or colour scheme, ensure you tie in soft furnishings and desk essentials throughout. If you’ve chosen a monochrome theme, choose black and white stationery to complement this look. These additional touches will help make you feel inspired to create wonderful work, plus will add a point of difference to your office space and the rest of your home or office.

7. Recycle

Clutterfly: Having a collection point set aside for different types of office waste should be a consideration when organising your workspace. Purchase distinct bins or in-trays to house near the printer for recycled or shredded paper. When that is full, move it to an allocated place out of the main traffic area of your home or office. You will easily be able to see what needs to be disposed of and can plan when and where to do it i.e. e-waste, sensitive documents, or general recycling. You can safely dispose of old batteries, phones, computers, toner and ink cartridges at your local Officeworks for free.

8. Don’t stop there

Clutterfly: The old phrase ‘finish what you started’ rings true when managing a hectic workload. Keep your newly organised workspace in-check by unpacking equipment after use, like files or equipment. These items will then be in place for the next time you need them and won’t clutter up for weeks after. To give yourself a little leeway, why not allocate one area where things are in an ‘organised mess’ – after all, most feel that creativity needs space and sometimes you need to leave things unfinished. Try to limit it to one project at time so the area doesn’t become too messy. For projects, why not try a simple trestle table that can be packed up when not needed.

9. Put it in the schedule

Clutterfly: Setting routines ensures harmony and increases productivity. Whether you prefer online or paper tools to keep on top of the ‘to do’s’, if there is a core schedule it will help you stick to what you’re working towards. If you have important weekly tasks, set a diary reminder to stay on top of it. A daily or weekly to do list is also key to staying organised. There are lots of daily planners available which look stylish in the office or on the go – be sure to keep your planner updated as the day/project evolves. If you prefer quick reminders, bright, bold sticky notes are also a great tool for setting reminders.

Dr. Suzy Green says: Scheduling in “to-dos” is a highly effective way of moving towards your long term and short term goals. Research has shown that aligning your short term goals (which includes your daily actions/tasks) to your long term goals leads to greater success. To create a balance, ensure you schedule both work tasks and personal tasks.

monthly planner

10. A refresh is as good as a holiday

Clutterfly: We all know the feeling of being stagnant when things don’t change (and our mind becomes blind to things we see every day), so be sure to give things a refresh every so often. This will rejuvenate the office as well as your mindset. You could move your desk around and create a new office layout, or keep it simple by adding some plants or update your stationery. Even replacing your desk chair can do wonders for your daily routine as it can alter your posture and overall desk experience.

Dr. Suzy Green says: Research has shown that there are massive benefits to “mixing it up”. This means that changing your environment around, either big or small changes can give you a boost of energy and greater levels of creativity and inspiration.

This new financial year, Officeworks has teamed up with Clinical and Coaching Psychologist and Founder of the Positivity Institute, Dr Suzy, to help analyse why we find ourselves in cluttered environments and the psychological affects it can have on our busy working lives. Thanks to Officeworks for letting us share these tips with you.

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