Today, I want to talk about making our offices freaking awesome. Why? Two reasons.
#1 Having a sweet office is fun.
I mean, think about all the time you spend sitting at your desk. Don’t you want to enjoy being there?
#2 The condition of your office can actually help you be better at your job.
Seriously. Plenty of research shows that the condition of our workspaces can significantly help, or hinder, our ability to be efficient and creative.
So here’s what I want to do today. Whether you’re in an office, cubicle, or a broom closet (been there, by the way), I want to share some tips for making your workspace freaking awesome.
These are tips for getting your office more organized (because I’ve seen some of your offices, and they are scary places), and tips for making it look sweet, too.
So let’s do it. Here are 4 simple tips for making your workspace more awesome.
THROW STUFF AWAY.
Chances are, you’re storing stuff in your office that really should be tossed. It happens. Things get busy. Papers and books and supplies and random junk come into your office, but you’re too busy to make a decision in the moment about where it should go. So it accumulates. It gets shoved in a drawer or piled up. And then it turns into clutter.
Clutter is dumb. Cluttered workspaces make us less productive and more unfocused.
So throw some stuff away. Throw a lot of stuff away. De-cluttering will free up physical space in your office and mental space in your brain. It’s good for you. If you need some motivation, check out this super helpful article from my friend Mike Burns (of The Other Side of Complexity) about how to de-clutter any home or work space.
Oh my goodness I hate paper. Like, so much. It’s so inefficient and it takes up so much space and it’s impossible to find anything when you need it. Go digital. It will make your life so much easier and more efficient. Here are a few ways to make it happen:
THROW AWAY YOUR FILING CABINETS. If paper has nowhere to accumulate, it won’t. When I revamped my office a few years ago, I gave myself just a single drawer for storing paper – mostly copies of my volunteers’ applications and background checks. That’s pretty much the only kind of paper I hang onto… and I love it.
THROW AWAY THE STUFF IN YOUR FILING CABINETS. A few years ago, I went through a huge five-drawer filing cabinet in our youth ministry offices. Guess what. It was filled with junk. Dumb, heavy, taking-up-space, information-you-could-find-on-Google-in-one-second, junk. So after you throw away your filing cabinets, throw away the stuff inside of them. If you find something in there that you simply can’t part with, make a digital copy. Then throw it away.
PURGE YOUR BOOKS. I love books. But, as much as I love them, physical books are kind of inefficient. And they take up a lot of space. Unless there is a book that I absolutely know I will re-read, I file my books digitally after reading them, and toss them. Here’s how I do it. I highlight my books while I read, and then transfer my highlights to a file in Evernote. With ebooks, transferring is easy – I just copy and paste. But if it’s a physical book, I make the transfer by either taking photos of the highlighted pages and pasting those photos into Evernote, or by typing out all of my highlights into Evernote. This might sound annoying, but, actually, it’s a great way to review the content I just read. Once my highlights are in Evernote, I can categorize them with tags and even search them later for specific quotes or topics. And when I’m done, I give the book away or sell it on Amazon. Clutter, gone.
Sit at your desk. Go ahead, do it. Now look around for potential distractions.
If you have stacks of books or projects-in-progress sitting on your desk, consider moving them out of your line of sight. When you’re trying to focus on the task at hand, sometimes the visual cue of all the other stuff you have to do can cause distraction and stress.
I even deleted all the icons from the desktop of my laptop because they were too distracting.
Replace any potentially distracting visual cues with new ones that actually help you stay focused and productive. For me, that means filling my line of sight with some simple artwork and keeping just a few things on my desk – pens, my phone, a couple of books I’m reading, and blank thank you cards for my volunteers.
DO ONE SUPER COOL THING.
So we’ve talked about a bunch of functional things you can do in your office. But once your office is clutter free and organized, it’s time to make it really awesome. Our youth ministry offices are pretty cool. But it’s not because we spent a ton of money on them. We simply added one or two really cool, original features to our workspaces. I’ll show them to you, starting tomorrow. Along with some how-to’s. Yay!
And, by the way, 99u has a really great series of articles about workspace design. Check them out.