Minimalism is one of the fastest growing movements these days and seeks to help people live more conscious lifestyles. By incorporating the principles of minimalism into your office, you can greatly increase your productivity, create more space for yourself, and begin to make more conscious choices about your working habits. Here are the top five rules to creating a minimalist office.
1. Eliminate paper and digitize your documents
The best way to begin having a minimalist office is to eliminate paper from your workspace and your life. Only print things that are absolutely necessary to have a hard copy of – save anything else to your computer. Go through existing files and scan anything that you need to keep, storing all of these files in a folder on your hard drive. Then, you can shred everything that’s left and recycle the paper. It’s also helpful to opt for paperless statements for bills and other accounts, while also taking a few extra minutes to call and cancel mailers and newsletters that you receive. Finally, you can ask co-workers to send files to you by email rather than dropping it at your desk or sending a fax. Once you’ve begun to eliminate paper from your life and have digitized your documents, you’ll have more space and will be able to focus on work free of distractions.
2. Only keep necessary supplies and machines
Consider how many of your office supplies and machinery you actually use on a regular basis. Do you really need a personal supply closet in your desk? It’s important to think about how often you actually use office supplies like paper clips, staples and a stapler, rubber bands, highlighters, or hole punchers. Most likely, you don’t need these items on a very regular basis. When you do need one of these supplies, you can either keep just a few of each in your desk or you can head to the office supply closet where you’ll always be able to find what you need. The same goes for machinery on your desk. Consider whether you really need a printer, scanner, fax machine, and copier all in your office — or, could you go somewhere else on the few occasions that you need one of these machines? Better yet, could you find a digital way to meet this need using just your computer?
3. Don’t overcrowd your space with decorations or photos
Many people naturally decorate their desks with photos, desk toys, or other knick knacks. One of the best ways to create a minimalist office is to simply get rid of these extra items. If an item on your desk is not serving a functional purpose, it’s likely that it doesn’t need to be there and is only distracting you from focusing on your work. A clean, minimalist environment can greatly enhance your focus and make it easier for you to complete work on time. If you’re dedicated to keeping a photo of your family nearby, choose just one or two photos that are great quality and that can act as a showcase for your loved ones, rather than keeping an entire collage of all of your memories on your desk.
4. Keep completed work and work that needs to be done separate
Though you don’t want to create an elaborate filing system for your minimalist office, it’s important to work with a basic system that will enable you to keep work that you still need to do separate from the work you’ve already completed. Many people find it helpful to keep a single inbox on their desk where all work that needs to be completed can be placed. After the work is finished, it is kept out of the inbox and filed away or saved on the computer and shredded. Additionally, only keep papers on your desk that are pertinent to the current task you are working on. Any other papers will only clutter your working environment and make it more difficult for you to focus and work without distractions.
5. Maintain a simple environment through your desk and walls
If you want to have a minimalist office in order to gain the benefits associated with a clear mind and a distraction-free workplace, it’s important to make sure that your environment is as simple as possible. Keep your desk and walls free of clutter and extra items that are decorative or otherwise demanding attention. The only things that should be on your desk are the essentials that you need to get your work done, such as a computer, inbox for the few papers you’ll be receiving, and perhaps a land-line telephone if your employer requires that you have one. Walls should be kept simple and clean in order to create a balanced and proactive working environment for you to focus.