Spring Cleaning

A Clean Sweep

This week, I decided to “spring forward” my spring cleaning by organizing my work space. I was surprised by how therapeutic the process was. From filing away loose papers to cleaning up my desktop – decluttering gave me a sense of relief and pride, which actually made me more productive. Here’s how I cleaned up my act:

1. As someone with a home office, separating my work and personal life is difficult. So, I started my spring cleaning by removing any personal items – like bills, books and even exercise equipment – from my office.

2. Next, I tackled my storage closet. It was only then that I realized how much I had actually accumulated over the years, and how this stuff was “stuffocating” me. I used the Kondo method to toss the things I really didn’t need or like anymore while neatly arranging my essential items in clearly labeled storage containers.

3. Once my closet was tidy, I dug in to my filing system. Again, using Kondo’s minimalist methodology, I kept physical copies of only the essential items – like tax documents and client information – and tossed the rest.

4. My digital files were next. For me, it was easiest to organize files by year so I created folders for each year, subfolders with the year and topic, and file names that were preceded by year and topic. This uniform, hierarchical taxonomy has made finding and storing files so much easier and quicker. Let me give you an example of how this would work:

5.  Finally, my desktop got wiped clean. Again, essential files were archived in appropriate folders while non-essentials got trashed. This LifeHacker article provides some good tips on how to simplify your desktop.

6.  I even managed to go through the dreaded task of cleaning up my email inbox. There are a variety of tools to help you do this if you don’t want to go at it alone. I was able to scrub about 100 emails per minute using Mailstrom. I admit, deleting emails in bulk felt good and was highly addicting. So much, in fact, that I may start and end each work day doing just that.

After the initial mental hurdle of combatting my clutter, it was really easy and I developed a rhythm. Once it was all said and done, I felt like a weight had been lifted that I didn’t even realize was there – freeing my mind and allowing me to sit down and get to work.

Do you have any tips that keep your workspace tidy? I’d love to hear them.


5 Ways to Make Working From Home Work for You

Global Workplace Analytics estimates over 3 million American workers telecommute at least part-time. The high-tech sector is no stranger to this trend. In fact, I’m part of that statistic. While there are some obvious benefits (Who misses rush hour traffic?), there are some challenges. Here’s how I make my home office work for me.

1. Make room and reduce clutter

Designate an area in your home for work-related duties only. Whether it’s an entire bedroom or a desk in the corner of your apartment – consider this area your own office. Remove distractions – like piles of laundry and unopened mail – and simplify your space. Check out this creative way to keep pesky cords out of sight. Consider cleaning up your virtual workspace too. De-cluttering your desktop and organizing folders will help you work more efficiently.

2. Get comfortable but not too much

Working from home allows you to get in your comfort zone, but make sure to rein it in sometimes. Get out of your pajamas and into some comfortable day clothes. Sit in an ergonomic chair and position your monitor and keyboard to promote good posture. Let in natural light whenever possible to brighten the room – and your mood.

3. Make a schedule and stick to it

One of the pitfalls of working from home is that you will end up working around the clock. Stop the madness! Make your own business hours, factoring in breaks, and don’t allow personal distractions to keep you from your tasks. Resist the temptation of checking work emails or making client calls outside of those hours. When you’re off the clock, you’re off the clock.

4. Take a break or two or three

Periodic breaks keep your mind fresh and actually make you more productive. Go out for lunch; pause for a cup of Joe; take a walk. Just be sure not to go over your allotted break time so that you can still remain on schedule.

5. Change it up when you need to

We’re creatures of habit, so a change of scenery from time to time may be what you need to get in gear. If you feel like you’re in a rut, get out of the house and work from your local coffee shop or library. Find an office space you can share with other telecommuters. Even just moving your home office furniture around can provide the inspiration you need to make it through the workweek.

Do you work remotely? Tell us how you make the most of your home office.