Even though it’s officially been Spring for a couple of weeks now, it’s really starting to feel like it. The sun is brighter. The temperature is rising. And everything from floors to trees has begun to bloom.
However, for how much I want to spend outside, this is also the best time to crack up the windows and get down with some spring cleaning — especially my workspace.
The benefits of spring cleaning go beyond just improving physical appearance. It can also be good for your mental health.
“Spring cleaning can be beneficial for many different reasons. In general, cleaning can restore a sense of control. So, when things are feeling out of control, people often like to take control in ways that they can – like taking control of their environment,” Dr. Dawn Potter of Cleveland Clinic told CBS News.
In addition, the Hybrid Workplace Habits & Hangups survey reveals that employees spend, on average, two hours a day locating the documents, information, or people they need to do their job each week. To put that another way, that’s 25 percent of their workweek.
In addition, according to research conducted by Libby Sander, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Bond University Business School and Director of the Future of Work Project, and others, our physical environments have a significant impact on our behavior, cognition, and emotions. Even our relationships with others and decision-making can be affected by it.
Furthermore, cluttered spaces can contribute to stress and anxiety. Besides impacting our ability to focus, it can also influence the choices we make about our diet and our sleep patterns.
In short, spring is the perfect time to spring clean your workspace. And here are some tips to get you going.
1. Get motivated.
Here’s the truth. Most people don’t enjoy cleaning. Why? Well, that varies from person to person. However, it is usually a time-consuming and effort-intensive activity.
Having said that, this is an essential daily activity that you should make a priority. In the long run, a clean workspace will not only make you happier, but it will also make you healthier and more productive as well.
If you are having trouble staying motivated during spring cleaning, here are some tips to help.
- Clearly define your goals. Most likely, you will not spend hours upon hours cleaning your office this spring. It is, therefore, much better to deep clean a few areas of your workspace than to clean your entire office in a haphazard manner.
- As you achieve your goals, envision your workspace as it will look. As opposed to something concrete like doing a hundred push-ups, cleaning goals are much more tailored to your situation. When you want a clean desk, you need a picture of it after it is organized and cleaned.
- Keep spring cleaning and everyday cleaning separate. You should set spring cleaning goals that are more comprehensive than the repetitive tasks you perform year-round.
- Decide on a realistic deadline. Having a deadline gives you extra motivation to start something, and it helps you stay accountable for your actions.
- Take before-and-after pictures. When you look at your before picture, you can see how far you have come and how much you have accomplished.
2. Establish a process.
Again, it takes time and effort to clean and organize. To begin, you must clear out the area you’re working in.
To start, choose the focus area that works best for you. You can, for example, clean a desk drawer at a time if you clean in 10-minute sessions when your time is limited It’s better to tackle a larger area, such as your desk, at once if you have an afternoon to spare.
Whatever the size or scope of your focus, you should pay close attention to each item. Removing them from the work area will allow you to clean them more effectively. For example, remove the drawers from your desk. Next, decide which items should stay and which should go. Whether you are keeping things or donating them, clean them.
Last but not least, put away the items you’ll keep.
Personally, I’m a fan of mise en place. In French culinary, this term refers to the work involved in setting up a kitchen before cooking. Translated, it means “everything is in its place.” This requires gathering ingredients and tools, arranging them conveniently, and preparing anything necessary for cooking. In other words, preparing meat or vegetables in advance for immediate cooking.
However, it might be as simple as keeping the most frequently used items near the front door. To stay organized, though, group items into categories. The creation of a small space for storing papers and other items can be helpful as well. This will ensure that you stay organized even when things get busy at work and you’re in a rush.
3. Set up different zones.
Organizing expert Peter Walsh recommends setting up zones based on functions or purposes at Forbes.
Let’s say that you are doing reading and research. Perhaps you need a computer area, a storage area, a meeting area, and a library. Your office can be more efficient if you think about it as zones, and this will help you maintain your organizational system.
In the same way, you can use folders to organize projects, jobs, clients, or any other information if you still have physical paperwork. To make it easier to find later, label the folder. Folders like these can be stacked and stored easily. If you need to take your work on the road, you can put them in your bag or briefcase.
A key part of organizing your work and space is categorizing everything. Just make sure you leave a little wiggle room for the unforeseen. For instance, it’s okay to leave a half shelf empty and purchase a few additional folders if you want to grow your collection.
4. Take small steps.
Especially before starting, you may feel overwhelmed by all that needs to be cleaned and organized. To avoid that, remember that doing a little bit at a time is perfectly acceptable.
In some cases, people may choose to do all of the spring cleanings over the course of a day. However, if that’s not an option for you, no worries. When you have some spare time, you can accomplish just as much by spending just a few minutes here and there.
No matter what kind of schedule you prefer, decide on an approach in advance. Following that, make sure you stay on top of the plan. To commit to cleaning your workspace, schedule a time on your calendar. As a result, it becomes a top priority. And you’ll be more likely to accomplish your goal.
Don’t forget to set an agenda that you can follow. If you set your time commitment too high, progress may be delayed. Set the bar low enough to reach.
5. Actually clean and organize your workstation.
In most cases, you spend a good deal of time at your workstation. The thing is, a crowded space can be a distraction and can make you feel overwhelmed as you are trying to complete your tasks in the space.
As such, make it a point to declutter your desk or cubicle periodically. With a clean workspace, you will be able to refocus your priorities, clear your mind and regain your motivation for your workday with a fresh perspective as a result of a fresh perspective.
Get rid of the clutter on your desk by decluttering files and papers.
- If you have a pile of paper on your desk that you don’t need anymore, throw it away.
- The best way to organize important documents is to store them in folders, binders, or expandable file folder wallets. If you utilize wall files, magazine files, or desktop file sorters to organize your files, you will have a lot more space available on your desk to work.
- In order to keep loose pens, markers, paper clips, post-it notes, and any other small objects on your desk organized and in a good place, invest in a desktop organizer. The only thing to remember with organizing containers is that you do not want to overdo it. If so, this could lead to hoarding items you don’t need.
- If you still have post-its on your monitor, throw them out if you no longer need them.
Keep your desk drawers neat and orderly by organizing them.
- The bottom of your desk drawer is probably piled high with old pens, condiments, and whatever else you’ve accumulated over time.
- When you receive a lot of freebies, some of which you thought would be great to have at the time, you may wish to re-gift them to someone or give them to someone likely to make better use of them.
- It is quite common for small objects, such as staples and binder clips, to end up at the bottom of your desk drawer. Use a drawer organizer to help you keep them at hand at all times.
- If you do not need any personal items at work, take them home with you.
Maintain a dust-free environment on your keyboard and monitor.
- A microfiber cloth can be used to wipe down your monitor after use.
- Clean your keyboard with disinfecting wipes after spraying compressed air dusters to remove dust and crumbs from it.
- Use disinfecting wipes to wipe down your phone and printer to be as clean as possible.
It is important to clean under your desk regularly.
- In order to remove dust that has been collected on loose cables, wipe them down with a damp cloth; the most effective thing for them to do is to tie them up with cable ties and to keep them off the floor if at all possible. Consider using a cord organizer if one is available to you.
If you have clutter on your walls, reevaluate what you have there and remove as much of it as possible.
- It may be a good time to revisit anything you have placed on your walls, such as notes and photos. You may also want to replace them with the most recent version if you have any.
6. Deal with digital clutter.
Your virtual workspace should also undergo a spring cleaning as well. Do not forget to spend a few hours cleaning your desktop or laptop’s digital components.
- Organize your desktop so that it is easy to find things. A computer’s desktop can quickly become cluttered if you have old files or documents. So, remove these items if you aren’t using them. While you are at it, update your desktop background, too, if you haven’t already done so. Review any unnecessary or outdated files and remove them.
- Organize your email. The productivity of your inbox can easily be increased by optimizing it! Going through them and deleting old or no longer relevant emails will take a few minutes.
- Back up to the cloud or an external hard drive. Fortunately, there are a lot of cloud storage options available nowadays, making it easier than ever to keep your files backed up…the hard part, however, is remembering to back them up regularly. There are several different providers to choose from, so it is important to speak to your company’s IT department and find out which one they prefer. External hard drives should also be regularly updated, just in case you cannot access the internet.
- Update your passwords. There is usually a requirement to change a company’s password at least a couple of times a year in most companies. It is recommended, however, that you change your password every three months, according to cybersecurity experts. Why? It enables you to protect your files from being accessed by a potential hacker.
7. Refresh your calendar.
Do more than just clean and declutter your physical workspace and digital items during this season of growth and rejuvenation. Also, freshen up your calendar this spring by:
Take stock of how long you spend and track it.
If you want your calendar to be truly clean, you need to take a look at what is in it in the first place. For some historical data, you can have a look at past appointments and calendars. The other thing you need to do is also track your time and see how it’s actually being utilized. From there, you can remove entries that are no longer necessary.
Follow the rule of three.
To list everything you do in a month, you will probably have to write at least 20, 30, and even 40 different tasks and responsibilities at the end of the month. The more carefully you examine your list, item by item; you will soon realize that only three items are responsible for 90% of the value you bring to your business on a small scale.
Question all recurring events.
Check your calendar to see which recurring events and commitments you no longer need to fulfill, and then remove those from your schedule. This will allow you to free up a lot of space on your calendar, even if you go to those monthly or quarterly functions.
As soon as you notice that there are any possible problems, make sure that you fix them as soon as possible.
Say “yes” to less.
It’s time to adopt Derek Sivers’ idea: don’t say yes anymore. Either say Hell Yeah, or No. Simplify your life and calendar by saying yes to less and saying no to more.
Don’t use your calendar only for checklists and notes.
Some lists should not be included in your calendar – they will clutter it up with useless details.
Time to move on.
If you don’t want to be associated with someone else’s calendar anymore, unfollow them. For example, you shouldn’t follow a former employee or co-worker because it would be pointless.
The time it takes to switch between different calendars is way too much. To fix this issue, consolidate all of your calendars into one master calendar,
8. Let your senses go wild.
Organizing your files and removing dirt and dust are only a few things you need to do when spring cleaning your office. While you’re at it, you might as well add some positive energy to your space. If your office is bland and boring, you might want to consider adding some color.
Make your workspace more colorful by adding posters, artwork, personal trinkets, or plants. It is important for you to remember that some people suffer allergies to pollen and/or strong scents, so try not to make their work-life harder.
You can also lighten the room with soft lighting. In addition, aromatherapy can reduce stress, encourage relaxation, lift your mood, fight depression, and energize you during the day.
9. Become mentally clear.
Once you have cleaned up your physical and digital spaces, your mental focus will follow immediately after. If you are overburdened with work, you will likely accumulate mental clutter, and a disorganized space will only increase the stress you already feel. As a result of working in a dysfunctional environment, you might feel overwhelmed with information or unable to focus on your priorities due to experiencing information overload.
It is natural that the time and effort you spend on organizing your workspace will result in a renewed sense of well-being. Here are some of our other tips to help you:
- To help your mind focus, you can keep a journal or make physical notes
- Make sure you take short breaks throughout the day so that you can reflect and reset your mind
- Take a step back and look at the big picture from a different perspective
- Rather than solving all your problems at once, focus on one thing at a time
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help
10. Schedule future cleanings.
If spring cleaning was a burden for you this year, it probably means that you allowed things to get out of hand and that it was time to deal with it. By keeping your workspace clean periodically, you can prevent this from happening again in the future.
As a general guideline, you should aim to clean your workspace once a week at the very least — like on Friday afternoons. By doing so, you’ll be able to catch up on any little details that may have been missed in the process if they are present. It is very important that you dust the lamps, shelves, and desk; wipe down hard surfaces wherever necessary; empty the trash; water plants; and vacuum the floors regularly.
What is the reason behind the name spring cleaning?
There is a lot of evidence that spring cleaning originated from the Persian new year, which coincidentally falls on the first day of spring every year. All the rooms in the house are cleaned during this period of time. There are also some suggestions that spring cleaning could be linked to the ancient Jewish practice of cleaning before Passover, another spring festival, as well as spring cleaning.
It seems that, especially in wet and continental climates, most people prefer to clean and dust during March, regardless of their religious beliefs. It is because the weather in March or April ends to be warm enough to open the doors and windows, and the wind is able to carry the dust out of the house as a result. Aside from this, there are no insect problems because it is simply too cold for them.
Why is it important to keep your workspace clean and organized?
Increasingly, we spend a considerable amount of time at our workstations, so it is important that they are clean and fresh all the time. You should also ensure that your workspace is sanitized every day, especially if you work from home. By doing this, you will be protected from viruses that may have been brought home, your living space will be kept clean, and you will ensure that you will not spread any germs to others.
Additionally, a clean and organized workspace prevents fewer distractions and mistakes.
How can you keep your desk clutter-free?
By following these steps, you can keep your desk clean and free from clutter and mess:
- The first thing you must ask yourself is, does this item belong on my desk? If it does not, then you should either throw it away or put it in the place where it belongs.
- After using pens, general stationery, files, or books, ensure you put them back in their correct place.
- Keep important items such as pens and pencils in your desk drawers so that you can access them easily.
- To reduce the amount of paper you use, you should consider going digital.
[Related: Why Spring is the Perfect Time for Organizing]
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Photo by Nathan Cowley; Pexels; Thank you!
Editor-in-Chief at Calendar. Former Editor-in-Chief and writer at Startup Grind. Freelance editor at Entrepreneur.com. Deanna loves to help build startups, and guide them to discover the business value of their online content and social media marketing.