If you looked at my desk right now, you would find my monitor, keyboard and mouse, along with a coffee cup, a water cup and my speakers. That’s it. I work from home, and organize all of my work on my computer, so that’s all I need. I used to work in offices, and while some of them required a few other things to be on my desk, such as a clock, a phone and a few baskets of papers, I always kept it as minimal as possible.
I keep my computer files minimalist, as well, organized in as few folders as possible. In both my work life and my home life, I embrace the philosophy of minimalism. I don’t like clutter, I don’t like unnecessary gadgets, and I don’t like the feeling of things piling up. As such, I only have what I need on hand, and this includes my workspace.
To elaborate on why this is so important to me and my sanity, here are five reasons I enjoy my minimalist workspace.
1. I can easily find everything
I hate running around in a frantic panic trying to find things. I get easily panicked, so it’s especially fun for me when I lose or misplace something. This includes documents and files — one of my worst pet peeves is trying to locate a file or document on a cluttered computer where nothing is properly labeled or organized.
I like having my important documents on hand, so that I don’t have to go into frantic search mode when trying to find something. Organizing both my desk and my computer files, and keeping only the things I absolutely need, helps me to find things quickly, easily and without all the stress.
2. The essentials are close at hand
This goes for both desk items and computer files. It goes together with easily finding things, but it’s not quite the same. Even if something is easily locatable, it’s not too much fun to dig it out of literal and digital piles of randomness. By keeping only what I need, and not letting important things get buried in piles, I have everything on hand when I need it. Again, this saves a lot of stress and time.
3. I’m not constantly knocking things over
I am, by nature, an extraordinarily clumsy person. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve banged my elbows, hips, shins and head on counters, shelves, doors, sinks… the list goes on. I don’t even notice when I run into things much anymore, unless I run into them really hard. Along these lines, I’m quite good at knocking things over.
If I had a lot of clutter on my desk, it would end up on the floor all the time. Likewise, if I had a bunch of stuff I was trying to keep right near my computer, I’d probably spill coffee or water on it. Or spill the coffee into the water, and then spill both on my computer. I need elbow space. If you’re clumsy like me, for goodness sakes, give yourself some elbow space!
4. It’s easy to clean
Keeping things off of your desk makes it easier to clean off those crumbs and coffee stains. I clean my desk with a vinegar/water spray, and I only have to pick up my keyboard, speakers and mouse pad to clean the whole thing. If I had a lot of stuff on my desk, it would take much longer, because I would have to clean around every item, one at a time.
The same goes for files and folders. If you keep them minimal and organized, then you don’t have to do a huge file clean-up at the end of the year. Saves time, energy and sanity.
5. I feel less stressed
When things are cluttered around me, I feel stressed and it’s hard for me to focus on what I am doing. I’m not alone in experiencing these clutter-related effects — they have been documented by research. I hate being among scattered piles of things, especially large disorganized piles. I also hate having things blocking my path as I walk. As mentioned, I am a clumsy person, prone to trip over all of these things. Instant stress.
How to give your workspace a minimalist makeover
If you want to go the way of the minimalist with your workspace, there are a few things you can do to get started:
- Take everything off of your desk. If you don’t work at a desk, take everything out of your workspace. Take a moment to observe the empty space.
- Clean. Clean all surfaces, floors and windows in your workspace. Sweep cobwebs out of the corners, if needed. You’re starting with a clean slate.
- Re-organize, if you wish. Maybe apply some feng shui to your workspace layout.
- Go through all of your stuff, one pile at a time. Recycle or otherwise get rid of what you don’t need or want. If it’s not contributing, get rid of it. Only put back the items you absolutely need, and the ones you feel add value to your workspace. Keep only what’s essential and organize it.
- Do the same with your computer. If it’s cluttered, do a big file clean and organize session now, and make a plan to maintain it. As few files as possible, with a few subfolders, should do the trick (depending, of course, on your profession).
Do you have any other ideas for a minimalist workspace?
— Tanya Mead