Tell me if this sounds familiar.
When you walk up to your desk, your heart sinks at what you see. Your shoulders slump and you sigh as your eyes fall on the piles of things you still need to do. You push the piles aside to do your work—or maybe you riffle through them to find your work.
If you’re like most people, this is what you’re faced with every morning.
You might love what you do, but you don’t love where you do it. In fact, you might even feel downright anxious when you sit down at your desk.
Regardless of what you do or who you do it for—when your environment makes you feel like crap, it’s working against you. It’s making it harder for you to do what matters to you and feel like you’re successful at it.
And that’s a problem. Especially if you’re doing any kind of work you’re passionate about.
Your environment should nurture you and your work.
It shouldn’t stand in your way, it should help you. It should make it easier to do your work—and it should feel good to be there.
But it isn’t enough to just clear out the junk
We both know I’m a keen declutterer. And I think clearing out clutter and letting go of things that don’t matter is a crucial step in creating environments work.
But it’s only the first step.
After that, you’ve got to set up the space so it helps you live the life you want to live. Because otherwise, what’s the point? What’s it doing for you if it’s not helping you?
Sure you could have spaces that look gorgeous and pristine, that are the envy of your girlfriends and look like magazine spreads. But that’s not the point.
The point is to create a physical environment that lifts your heart, relaxes your body, brings a smile to your face … and where you can live your life.
That’s what I want to help you create.
Decluttering is about removing obstacles—and that’s great. But let’s take it a step further and create an environment that inspires and delights you as well as making it easier to live the life you want.
In your office, that means creating an environment that helps you do your best work—and succeed at what matters to you.
So how do you do that?
Start by making practical things easy
I believe in setting up your space so that it’s easy to do the things that matter to you. It’s about having a space that co-operates with you, that has as little friction as possible.
So when you look at your desk—what do you see that needs to be easier to handle? Start by just making a list of what you see piled on the desk. What categories of things or types of activities are challenging for you to complete right now?
What is on your desk right now and why?
Imagine what you would be doing in an ideal world … how would you accomplish this task? What would you have to hand? What would be different? Think about what practical, physical support would make it easier to handle each of those items on your list.
Maybe you’d have different storage. Or you’d have a stand for a few working files rather than just put-it-away-forever files. Maybe you’d have all your supplies in one place.
Then see how you can rearrange things to make it easier for you to do what needs to be done. Hopefully visualizing the action gave you an idea. See if you can move things around or borrow something from a different room to try out your idea. No need to buy anything yet. Find a way to try it first.
This is exactly what I do when I notice that something’s not working. I’ve used empty boxes to test an inbox idea—or to make a temporary stand for working files on my desk—or a small tray to hold pens.
See what you can do to make something easier today.
Then make the view inspiring
Not only do you want to make it easy to do your work here, you also want to feel good in this space. You want to feel at ease in it and enjoy it.
So bring in things that inspire and delight you … in both big and small ways. Hang art you love, posters that inspire you – or make your own. Have a lovely plant on your desk. Buy file folders in favourite colours that make you smile when you open the drawer. Use a favourite dish to hold your pushpins. Bring beloved objects in from other rooms.
There are a million and one little things you could do to inject your personality into your space.
It doesn’t have to be big or expensive. It just needs to make you feel good.
So play around with it a bit. Think about what would make you smile when you arrive at your desk, what would make the time you spend there more enjoyable.
And then do that.
Because in the end, creating an environment that makes you feel good and supports you actually helps you get where you want to go. And it makes the getting there so much more pleasant.
So today I invite you to stop pushing against your environment—and instead create a space for doing your best work. I bet you’ll love it.
How about you?
What could you do to set your office up to help you succeed? I’d love to hear what would make it a more enjoyable place to be and an easier place to work—click here to share your thoughts.