6 Tips to Create a Productive Workspace

Ever walk into a room and immediately want to leave? 

Maybe you've gone to a job interview in an office with florescent lighting, high cubicles and gray-everything, where everyone looks miserable. 

It may not be immediately obvious, but your environment can impact your energy, mood, and your general sense of wellbeing.

Your workplace is no exception. A messy and disorganized workspace is going to leave you feeling scatter-brained, unfocused and overwhelmed. 

It's important to create a space where you feel comfortable so that you can focus on the work that really matters. 

 Here are 6 tips to organize your workspace to increase focus:

1. De-Clutter




I'm willing to bet that you have a few extra post it notes, pens, or note pads lying around your desk.  While it's good to have the supplies you need on hand, they don't need to be out when you're not using them, especially if you hardly ever use them. Do you really need six pens? When was the last time you used that water bottle in the corner of your desk? Take inventory of the items in your workspace. If you haven't touched something in the last 4-6 months, you can probably live without it. 

2. Set Up Work Zones

Your day probably consists of a few different kinds of activities: computer work, in-person meetings, phone calls, breaks etc. One way to make your workspace more productive is to perform these tasks in different spaces that are optimized for that activity. Even if you just turn your chair around and face the window for phone calls, you're clearing your mind of all the tasks waiting for you on your laptop. This will make it easier to focus on the task at hand. It also gives your mind a nice break. Humans aren't meant to sit in one place for ten hours a day. Work zones are refreshing and they can give you the energy boost you need to push through afternoon slump. 

3. Follow the Proximity Rule

Try to organize your desk based on how much you use each item. Files and folders (if you still use paper) probably don't need to be very close to you if they're just for record keeping. If you only use the stapler for printing, it can probably be put in the drawer, and not left on your desk. Ideally, your desk will only hold the things you use multiple times during the workday like your laptop, water/coffee, and maybe a pen and notepad. This can also be applied to digital organization. For example, you can put the folders and documents you use the most on your desktop or on your 'favorites' bar. You can keep them there as long as they are relevant to your current tasks and goals.  

4. Organize Your Notes

A lot of companies are prohibiting computer use during meetings because they can be distracting. So if you're taking notes on paper, you need a system to organize them so you can reference them later on. Notebooks with three colored tabs are great for organization. You can have one tab for client meetings, one for internal meetings, and one for ideas. This makes it easy to grab one notebook whenever you have a meeting and easily flip to the relevant notes you took last time. It's also good to have a separate notepad (digital or paper copy) for reminders when little things come up during the day. If you use paper folders, the same rule applies. If you put documents from completely different meetings in one folder, it completely loses its purpose. This goes for digital folders as well. Naming folders by general terms and get more specific as you create folders within folders. For example, you can create a folder named Receipts. Within that folder, you can create folders for Invoices, Vendor Payments, and Reimbursements. 

5. Empty Your Trash

I don't mean your physical trash ( I hope you already do that.) I'm referring to the documents, files and notes that people hold onto because of what-ifs. What I want to refer back to these notes? What if my boss wants to see this receipt? While those can be legitimate concerns, they only apply to reasonable timeline. 

If you haven't looked back on your notes in the last few months, you're probably not going to need them. One way to get rid of documents you probably won't need forever is to create a Temporary folder and set a repeating calendar invitation to remind you to check in on that folder and trash anything you have used. You can also create an Archive folder for older documents that you don't want to completely delete, but you don't want floating around your desktop.  

6. Use Motivational Reminders

No matter how organized you are, everyone loses motivation from time to time. Another way to make your workspace more productive is to make it feel more personalized and inspiring. Adding some inspirational quotes or photos somewhere in your workspace is a fun way to stay energized and focused on your goals. 

Organizing your space doesn't take much time and effort and it can really improve your happiness and productiveness at work. Even just picking one or two of the tips above can give you a sense of empowerment and help you focus on your more important daily goals.