This is the 29th post in my 30 for 30/30 series where I am publishing a new post each day for the next 30 days within a 30-minute window without much of a plan. You can read about why I’m doing this by clicking this link.
The accumulation of stuff is often an insidious process, so much so that we fail to notice it. However, if one of our aims is to embrace simplicity and be more at peace with ourselves and with the world while at work, we need to pay close attention to the daily accumulation of office detritus.
The photo above is one I took this morning when I first arrived at work. It’s what my desk looks like from day to day. The PC in the background is company issue and although I use it sparingly (I’m a Mac), I bring in my own MacBook Pro to use most of the time.
Ask any of my coworkers and they will acknowledge that this is how I leave my office at the end of every day. It’s my habit to leave it in this spartan state for two reasons:
- The cleaning service actually wipes down my desktop each evening and so it’s perpetually clean. There’s nothing like working in a minimalist office space to aid in the clarity I need to do my work.
- The minimalist appearance of my workspace generates peace and serenity. Although it gets ever-so-slightly littered with papers and notebooks throughout the day (I’m a writer, after all) I make it a point to restore it to this state when I leave each evening.
I walk around the office where I work from time to time and see desktops covered with materials, jumbled with papers and notebooks, and from day to day, most of it never moves. It’s as if the people who sit at these spaces, are immune to the messiness of their workspace.
Before I adopted the daily practice of simplicity, I used to be this way. I recall a number of years ago how I rebelled against a company policy that stated we had to leave our desks clear each night. I was insulted and thought it was so Big Brother-like; no one was going to tell me to clean my desk every night!
Now I look back on that attitude and smile. I extend some compassion toward my past self and feel gratitude that I shifted my approach to living with less.
My suggestions to help prevent the accumulation of office detritus
I have a feeling that the impending move from the building we currently occupy to another just down the road in two weeks’ time will result in a lot of cleaning the day before. The recycling and trash bins will overflow as some of my colleagues will become acutely aware of how much clutter they’ve allowed themselves to accumulate in their respective workspaces.
There is a better, more peaceful alternative to this mad rush to dispose of needless stuff. What follows is some suggestions that anyone can take to heart in order to maintain a neater, more tidy office space.
Suggestion 1 – Don’t think of your office as an extension of your home. Your office is a workspace. Unless you’re a CEO, you likely don’t have a couch and a liquor cabinet. Instead, it should reflect the work you’re engaged in on a daily basis. Limit your wall decor´to a single framed work of art. Too many pieces on the walls and bookcases or shelves jumbled with knickknacks create negative energy that you can feel. If you don’t feel it, you’ve grown accustomed to it. I can walk into a messy office and feel the energy it radiates and it’s because I’m in an office most of the day that doesn’t vibrate in this manner.
Suggestion 2 – Keep only on your desk what you’re working on at that moment. Do you spend your day amidst an ocean of clutter? Do you sometimes dream about enjoying a neat, orderly workspace instead of the one you have? Only a few minutes of close attention each day to your workspace could reverse the trend. Working on Project A this morning? Then limit your desktop to Project A materials, then put them away at lunch. When it’s time to work on Project B, your desk is ready.
Suggestion 3 – Practice quality over quantity. As you can see in the photo above, I don’t have much on my desk or credenza. I prefer to curate my workspace just like I curate my living space. When we clutter our primary workspace with a lot of papers, folders, and framed photos they become distractions and impede our productivity. You might read another essay I wrote called The 30-Day Live Like You Travel Experiment.
Suggestion 4 – Declutter papers, folders, binders, and supplies daily. The more items you have in a space, the greater the psychic stress you will experience; everything vibrates, even rocks and boulders. The fewer items you allow into your workspace, the lover the vibrational energy in the room. At intervals throughout the day, take the time to put those discarded paperclips back in their container; file the folder that you just finished working on; collect outdated printer outputs and take them over to the shredder or recycle bin. It only takes a few minutes at a time and the benefits are palpable.
Suggestion 5 – Create a habit of clearing your desk each night. As you can see from this morning photo, I do this nightly. Not only does my desk stay cleaner because it’s cleaned each night, but it also greets me with the positive energy that only a decluttered workspace can. I also do this because I generally like myself, my habits, and the way that I live…mostly. It’s a simple way to say thank you to yourself each morning and I promise that it will make a difference in how to approach your office and work each morning.