Don’t just focus on your closet or your file cabinet: Spend some time this season working on ways to minimize distractions while maximizing productivity.
You may think of spring cleaning as a phenomenon to do at home, but you might want to devote a little time toward making room for it at work.
But, in an age where the office is more paperless than ever, that spring cleaning is going to come less in the form of sorting out file cabinets and more in the form of rethinking how you tackle the work at hand.
With that in mind, here are some alternative spring cleaning suggestions—each with improving productivity in mind. Check ‘em out:
Spring clean your mental state. When it comes to having a clean area to work, it’s not just about taking the right mindset to the work you have to do, Stanford Professor Emma Seppala told CNBC last year. “The more information we fill our minds with, the poorer our ability to remember things becomes,” Seppala told the outlet. “The brain literally acts as if it were cluttered and we’re less able to ignore irrelevant information.” Seppala recommended a variety of strategies to help ease the mental clutter, including more deep breaths, a little bit more fun … and a couple of plants. Give yourself something relaxing to look at.
Less stuff on your desk, please. Is your desk filled with files or folders you don’t need, or objects that might distract you when you’re simply trying to get some stuff done? Don’t let it get stuck there in the first place—and have a strategy to get rid of it as soon as possible. Monster.com contributor Megan Malugani offered this suggestion: “One surefire way to prevent clutter from accumulating on your desk is to adopt the one-touch rule. Deal with every piece of paper that crosses your desk immediately,” she explained. “Trash it, act on it, file it or—if you really must—place it in your inbox until you have time to deal with it.”
Clean up your time management. How often do you find yourself a victim of the shiny object syndrome—where your focus gets pulled away from the task at hand? That’s a good spot for spring cleaning as well. One way to keep your work in check might involve compartmentalizing your time so that you can maintain focus. In a blog post for Lifehack.org, time management expert Carl Pullein states that preventing your mind from wandering away from the task at hand can greatly help in ensuring you don’t get cluttered by distractions. “Being able to achieve this state can seriously boost your productivity,” he explains. “You get a lot more quality work done and you find you have a lot more time to do the things you want to do. It is a skill worth mastering for the benefits it will bring you.” Put on your headphones, dial into some ambient music, and don’t load up Twitter. You’ll be surprised at what you get done.
Cut down on your digital clutter, too. Is your data spread out all over the internet? That could be a problem—leading to unnecessary notifications on your phone, lots of extra emails, and potential gaping security risks that could threaten your online safety. A 2017 article from Wired makes the case for canceling accounts and deleting old stuff you don’t use. And that’s not just because of noise—there’s a security element in there, too. “When we talk about security we often talk about protecting our own things,” said Michael Kaiser, who was then executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, in comments to the outlet. “But in reality in the digital world we actually do sit on large amounts of information about other people, and that’s something to consider with decluttering and storing data more securely.”