How do you want to feel in your work space? I recently gave a talk to some fellow entrepreneurs at Hervana, on kicking the clutter and creating a space that charges you up! Rather than drains you. I believe the combo of good FUNCTIONALITY and FEEL hits this outta the park. I know I’m most productive when I’m relaxed and happy so my goal is keeping myself in that creative, motivated flow. In case you missed the talk, here it is! Grab a hot cup of joe, and picture me nerding out over storage containers and working from the heart. Now it’s like you were really there...
3 Ways to Master Your Work Space:
Create Your Systems
First up! Give your stuff a once over before you start organizing it. You might only be keeping half of what you’ve got so save yourself some time. Here’s some tips and tricks, passed down from my favourite Marie Kondo book, “Spark Joy”.
The best way to start? Dump it all out and sort it into categories. This could be by material (paper, electronics) or by how you use it (accounting, inventory, design). Whatever makes sense for you. This will help you to see everything you’ve got all in one place.
Only keep what you love and use. If you haven’t used it in so long that you forgot you had it, you probably don’t need it.
As you’re going through, create a pending to-do spot for things that need to be dealt with and set a time in your schedule to take care of them. This will help you from getting distracted as you declutter like a mother.
After you decide what to keep, give everything a home. This is a big one! Of course you’re going to make a mess again. It’s life. But having a place for everything makes cleaning up easier and more satisfying. Sometimes people get stuff building up again after they’ve done a big clear out, but they’re not sure why. Often they’re not giving the NEW things they bring into their space a designated home. So don’t let new items live forever in the random corners you dropped them in.
Store in categories so you know where to look for things. Being organized isn’t about memorizing where every item in your office is, it’s about making it more intuitive for yourself (and others you work with).
Whenever possible, store things where you use them. Less carting supplies around from room to room makes you more likely to do the thing.
Store things upright in your drawers so you can see everything at a glance.
Use dividers, folders or mini boxes to keep papers and small items organized inside your drawers. Think more like a box of fancy chocolates, less like a graveyard of drunk office supplies.
Create Your Systems
By systems, I’m talking the processes and day-to-day that go into your business. Keeping your machine well oiled. And keeping your sanity! Here’s some examples of daily systems that I use for myself. As you’re reading, think about what part of your processes feel messy, unpleasant to do or hard to keep track of. How can you streamline that for yourself?
Desk Top To-Do List
On my desk will be all the actionable things I need to take care of in a week. Physical reminders of ongoing projects, papers and items to put away. But my weekly goal is to get that desk cleared down to ground zero! Gretchen Rubin talks about her One-Minute Rule, which is the idea that if a task is quick to do (aka under a minute), you just do it then and there. Instead of letting all these tiny things pile up and overwhelm you. This could be answering a quick email, filing papers or getting some notes down in your planner. I like to spend a few minutes at the beginning or end of my day zooming through a bunch of these tasks. It’s been a good practice for keeping my desk and brain more organized.
A Home For Mental Clutter
A common question I’m asked, is how to keep track of all the post-it notes, ideas and lists you have around for yourself. I hear ya! Trying to keep track of the million thoughts racing through your head is exhausting. Think of it this way. Try giving your mental clutter a home, just like you do with your physical things. For example, anything that comes up to do with dates or deadlines goes right into my planner. For new ideas and brainstorming, I’ve got my sketchbook. And when I’m with clients, I’ll bring a mini notebook, then transfer any important details into my client file when I get back to my desk. Whether it’s analog or digital, the idea is to give that brain clutter somewhere specific to go, so that you can unload it and move on. This is a big thing for me as a creative, getting ideas down as they come and revisiting them later to execute!
I take a lot of photos, personally and for my business. I recently organized ALL of my digital photos and set up some new folder systems to help me out. I’ve now got a “To Sort” folder that acts like the parking lot for all the new photos I’m transferring onto my computer. When I’ve got time, I go through the lot, deleting all the doubles and videos I don’t need and sorting the rest into their categories. I can find what I need so much faster now and have way more space on my computer. Woohoo!
It’s not important that your desk looks Pinterest perfect. What’s important is that it makes you happy. That it’s a place you enjoy going to everyday. I’m gonna share my simplified recipe for desk feng shui. You ready?!
It can be real or fake. It can be some cut flowers. Just give yourself a little green!
This could mean adding a desk lamp or just sitting by a window to take advantage of the natural light. It’s one of those atmospheric things you don’t always notice, but definitely feel.
Something for you that makes you happy. Maybe it’s a framed photo, some inspiring books or your crystal cat collection. I love fun stationary so I go to town with that.
If you have wall space, put up a quote, some artwork or something with a splash of color to wake yourself up. What other elements will add to how you want to feel in your space? Is it some music, your tea stash, a little aromatherapy? If you’re not sure what your ideal work environment looks like, think of a place outside your norm where you’ve enjoyed working or felt focused. Coffee shops, restaurants, outdoors, with a friend - Use that as your cue.
A lot of getting organized and redesigning is problem solving with yourself. Be honest. Cut yourself some slack. Work with what you’ve got. And do the work to set it up better for yourself. Treating your space with respect, is treating yourself with respect. You got this queen!
And here’s a fun video I created for this event. Please enjoy! xo