Desk a mess? Declutter your den. The zen approach to managing a WFH workspace does not come naturally to the majority of us. Help is at hand.
The first step is to “stop hoarding”, says Grace Paul, author of The Ultimate Guide to Working From Home (Little Brown, £8.99), a timely tome for navigating these domicile days, packed with academic studies on WFH culture (who knew you could save £1,500 a year on lunches, as the average office worker spends over £6 a day on lunch?).
“Divide your paperwork into two piles: what you need to keep and what you need to throw away,” Paul continues.
Also, stop multitasking. “We all think we’re fantastic at multitasking when in fact we’re not, as our brain is unable to focus if we flit between jobs,” she adds.
© GettyTo keep your mind on the task at hand, there is an array of time-management techniques. Check out apps such as Toggl and FocusBooster or set your phone timer.
Designate space. “Allocating a specific space for your files as well as your office supplies will not only help you be more efficient, but will help you avoid distractions,” says Paul.
Next, spend five minutes at the end of the day tidying your workspace up, “as you’ll be grateful for it in the morning”. Not only will this “help you start the day in the right mindset, instead of feeling a sense of dread when you sit down at your messy desk, but you will know where everything is, so you can work more effectively”. Also, doing this at the end of the day will mark the end of your working day, helping you switch from work mode to home mode.
© GettyA few personal items should brighten up your desk, although not too many, you don’t want to undo your hard purging skills. When we enrich our surroundings, we feel happier, it can provide inspiration and it gives us a better sense of identity. There are even more mindful approaches. Shoukei Matsumoto, a Buddhist monk and author of A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind (Penguin, £4.99), sets out a reassuring guide to WFH worldliness, emphasising the importance to your mental wellbeing of finding objects’ “proper spots”. Monks, he says, are used to keeping a bare minimum of possessions and being admonished by a teacher for even the smallest deviation in desk placement.
“A monk friend of mine told me something funny,” he writes. “In the beginning, I was simply putting things in their proper spots because I had been told to do so. But through repetition I actually began to hear the items speak to me. I felt like if I listened closely enough, I would naturally know where the object needed to go.”
© GettyThink of your desk as an allegory for your body, he concludes. “Keep cleaning it every day. An object will tell you where it wants to be kept if you learn to see its true essence.