Minimalism is easy.
Well, the concept of practicing minimalism at home is.
You can toss whatever you don't need or even whatever you just don't like anymore. Everything is up to you. They're your things and therefore can do whatever you want with them. Easy.
The tricky part is that the more you tidy up at home, the more your minimalist mindset it going to overflow into your time at work.
Unfortunately, minimalism doesn't work quite the same way at the office. You can't just toss everything out and start over. Paperwork needs to be kept. Files need to be saved. In my case, example crafts need to be kept and elaborate program decorations and supplies need to be stored.
It's not as simple to declutter.
But there is hope! There are still things you can do at work to keep your focus and get away from the clutter. Here are 5 simpler ways you can practice minimalism at work.
Make your to-do list before you get to work
This one may seem like over-achieving, but it helps so much.
I used to make my to-do list after I got to the office. I'd spend about 15 minutes getting settled, making my coffee, saying hello to my coworkers, and then I'd sit down to write my list. But then, while making my to-do list I'd get distracted by other things or immediately jump to doing something else...
I'd lose focus before I even had a list of everything I needed to get done.
The result was that I'd get burnt out doing a bunch of little meaningless tasks and never make it to the important things.
But recently, I've started sitting down in the morning before I ever leave for work to go over my to-do list. Because I'm at home, there's no urge to complete any item on the list right then. There are also fewer distractions at home. I'm able to think clearly and write my list for the day. Then when I get to work, I arrive already having a clear picture of what I need to and how to go about doing it.
Making the to-do list at home puts me in a "get shit done" frame of mind before I ever get to my desk. This is a great thing to work into your morning routine. If you don't already have one, you really should think about having a morning routine. That alone is going to improve your work day.
And if you don't even know where to start, don't worry. I've made a list of things to add to your morning routine.
Do the hardest or biggest tasks first
It's not unusual to put off the big things. I'm guilty of it too. If I have a really big project that I'm dreading, I'll do a dozen other things first trying to avoid it.
But that's the wrong way of going about things.
Try tackling the hardest and biggest task you have first. Before anything else. Since you've already made your to-do list at home and have arrived to work motivated to get things done, you'll have more energy to dedicate to the dreaded task now than you will later.
It's better to work on it while you have the motivation.
And often times, the big projects that we're putting off don't take as long as we think they will.
Or, I guess they do take longer just because we put them off so much and procrastinate. But if you just buckle down and do it, you'll be done before you know it and you'll still have time to do the rest of the things on your list.
The best part, though? The feeling of knowing that the project is done and you won't have to think about it anymore.
Set a timer
Have you ever noticed how much more productive you are when you're racing a clock? I don't now about you, but if I set a timer, I go into overdrive doing whatever it is I've set to get done before the time runs out.
Most days, it might take me an hour or two to clean my entire house. If I set a timer? I could have it done in 30 minutes.
Thinking you're racing the clock will help you work faster.
But having a timer is also a good way to manage your time and remind you to take breaks. Taking a break is important to keep yourself from burning out.
Set a timer for about 25 minutes. Work really hard and get as much done as you can until the timer goes off. Then take a 5 minute break.
You'll focus better when you're working knowing that you'll get a break soon.
Designate a time to check emails
We all know that emails are a time suck. It's a never ending process of reading and responding and deleting and sorting.
Don't get sucked into the trap! It will destroy your productivity.
Yes, there are emails you need to read and respond to. Emails are important. But you don't need to spend all day on it (well, unless reading emails is like, one of the most important parts of your job, in which case, carry on).
Set aside a specific time of your day that you check emails. I like to check mine mid-morning. And then again in the afternoon. Use the timer idea, too. Set the timer and respond to however many you can get to in that time. Write down on your to-do list any tasks that came from the emails (resist the urge to do each task immediately), and when the timer goes off, you can review your new to-do list and prioritize as necessary.
Now, you may get a lot more emails during the day than I do. You may need to repeat this process more than twice a day.
Find a rhythm that works for you and then stick with it! This is such an important step in cutting down on your digital clutter. So don't skip it!
Keep your desk clear
This is by far the hardest one. Well, for me it is.
My desk is a magnet for anything and everything.
Fortunately, there are other places to keep things in my office area. There are shelves for storage and I have several drawers and filing cabinets that I can keep papers and files in.
Take advantage of whatever storage solutions your office provides. Do your best to make sure your work space stays as clear as possible.
Keeping your desk clear of clutter, just like with your home, will also help to keep your mind clear. You'll focus better working in a clean space.
And you can even take it a step further and turn your desk into a cozy home away from home. I decked mine out with gold and white "wallpaper," picture frames, snacks... My desk is a luxurious place to be.
Get your space cleaned up. You're gonna feel better when you do.
Minimalism at work can still be difficult. It can be hard to find the time to take a break or clear your head. But these tips will help. I know they've helped me. Practicing minimalism at the office has transformed the way I do my work.
I hope you give some of these a try. And let me know when you do! I'd love to hear about how these simple changes have improved your time at work!