Having mild OCD means that I find a cluttered workspace a major hurdle to anything I want to get done. It just makes things harder to find, and the mess makes you feel like a mess on the inside too.
So, I tend to keep my workspace as organized as possible. I find cleaning the clutter a bit therapeutic, and gives me a small sense of accomplishment which gets the ball rolling for my next goal.
A Clean Workspace
This is the most important ritual for me- every Sunday, I spend a good 30 minutes tidying up my workplace and cleaning so everything looks and smells fresh, ready for the next week.
A clean workspace for me leaves less room for procrastination. Unsurprisingly, this is backed by research studies. A study by Joseph R. Ferrari and his team found that people with cluttered homes or workspaces are more likely to procrastinate, hence reducing their productivity.
Studies have shown that human brains are designed to prefer order over chaos, and a clean workspace is a visual reminder of that.
I believe our workspace is a reflection of our mental state, and one can influence the other. This is why I try to compartmentalize everything as much as possible. By staying organized physically, I’m much better able to organize my thoughts as well.
So how do you go about compartmentalizing your work area? To start, invest in plenty of storage containers or boxes to put things in their most logical places. You can color coordinate these items too if that helps you. For example, buy orange folders for everything related to your finances.
Order your stuff in a way that makes things accessible to when you want them to be. So, don’t bury documents you need in storage boxes. Instead, try placing them in a file dividers or mini cardboard shelves.
Another strategy I found helpful was to separate my workspace from my storage spaces. This way, I get to be messy without messing up the order of storage. Place your documents at a different spot to where you’re working, so that you only take what’s necessary with you to your workspace.
Organize the Computer
As we’ve become more and more dependent on the internet, our workspaces have shifted from desks to computers. It’s just as important, or if not more, important to organize your work-related stuff on the laptop than your desk.
This is what I do with my computer:
- Compartmentalize and create folders for different types of files (documents, media, business, personal etc).
- Physically clean my laptop and keyboard weekly
- Ensure everything is backed up weekly
- Organize any wires so that they don’t clutter my workspace (I taped my charging wires in a neat path that’s less visible)
Zeroing in on Ergonomics
Nothing else matters when your back is aching or your wrist hurts at work. That’s something I found out the hard way many years ago.
Called office ergonomics, improving this aspect of your work area won’t just improve your productivity, it’ll save you from a world of pain later in life. Here are some ergonomic adjustments I’ve made in my workspace that you may want to consider:
- Invest in a vertical mouse that minimizes forearm pronation.
- Get a chair that can actually stand up to sitting for 8 hours or more a day without feeling like your pants are on fire. I personally always choose mesh chairs with a curved back and waterfall seat edge.
- Use a laptop stand- it saved my neck, literally. The one I have is from Roost.
- Get up and move around at least once an hour.
I’ve found over the years that how you organize your workspace isn’t just a reflection of your mental state, it can actually affect it. A well thought out, clean and efficient work area can actually influence your mindset and boost your productivity. That is why it’s so important to regularly maintain it.