My favorite season is right around the corner; summer. 

It is the one time of year; I’d rather be outside than inside.  

With that in mind, each year around now, I start to tighten up my time management habits and make changes to ensure I get more done in less time so I can get outside on my deck, in my pool, and with friends.  

Ensuring my workspace is productive is one of the ways I’m getting ready this year.  

Were you aware that we typically exist in about 10-20 spaces?  The spaces can change as our lives change, but we usually frequent only 10-20 spaces at any given time.  Some examples include your kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, car, office, deck/balcony, supermarket, favorite restaurant, playground, etc. 

To get the most out of those spaces, you can look at each of them in terms of increasing productivity, but today we will focus on our office or workspace. 

Start by decluttering

In the blog “Creating zero distraction space,” we talk about how distractions can rob you of your energy and cause you to wonder where your day went.  

A cluttered desk is one of the items that can distract you and unconsciously drain your energy as you continually process those items. 

Many items on your desk are likely items that you haven’t gotten to yet or are delaying doing anything with, which reduces your focus and can even stress you out.

This is why to create a productive workspace; we start with decluttering. 

I recommend taking EVERYTHING off your space, putting it on the floor, and then going through the items one at a time. 

With each item, decide:

  • if you will keep it because it adds value to your life or it brings you joy
  • if It needs to be filed.  If yes, file it right now!
  • if it can be actioned in two minutes or less.  If yes, do it. 
  • Shift it or schedule it. Shift means to put it back where it belongs or to delegate it.  Schedule means it needs action, but it will take over two minutes.  If it needs to be scheduled, add it to your task list for scheduling. 
  • Or trash it. 

When you know what you are keeping, move to the next step. 

Productive workspace

Now we must put the items we keep back into our workspace.  Here are some best practices for doing this: 

  1. Know the purpose of your workspace and ensure that those items returning to your desk help you achieve that purpose 
  2. Think about the ideal layout you want.  Consider organization and optimizing the movement on your desk. 
  3. Then start returning items to your workspace. 

Here are some other things to consider for optimal space.  If you work from home, make sure it is a dedicated space.  At a minimum, keep the space consistent.  You don’t want a space that requires you to set up and take down all the time. 

Think about your posture when working. 

I recently moved to a three-monitor system and LOVE it and highly recommend it to everyone. 

On one monitor, I keep frequently referred to items (my calendar, my productivity system (Click UP), and if you use something like WhatsApp or Slack with your team, you may want to keep that open as well.  I keep them organized in three columns across the left screen. 

On the middle monitor, I keep the reference material I need for whatever I am doing. 

I have up anything I am working on on the far right monitor. 

My middle screen is my laptop screen which sits lower than my two external monitors.  I have found that working on the external monitors keeps my head up and helps with my posture.  

The rest of my desk is set up based on how I wish to use it. 

The best way to declutter your workspace is to estimate how long it will take you and schedule that time in your calendar. 

I have my workspace decluttering scheduled in a couple of weeks.  I’d love to hear how it went when you are done! 

I’ve got a theory: If you love your workspace, you’ll love your work a little more.

Cynthia Rowley

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