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Spring Cleaning for Better Productivity and Less Stress
Hardly provides tips on how applying spring cleaning to your home office can increase your productivity and decrease your stress. From decluttering your desk to purging emails you no longer need, this post will guide you through refreshing your work space so that your career can bloom this season.
Finally, the days of hibernation are over, and spring is here. In Japan, springtime is marked by sakura or, as we say in the States, “cherry blossom” season. The delicate pale pink petals are in bloom for just 10 short days before they fall or are swept away by wind and rain. As I hanami, which is a Japanese term for “enjoying the transient beauty of flowers”, through the streets of Gion, I am reminded howI need to conquer some spring cleaning so that my workflow and productivity could bloom, too. What about you?
Here are Hardly’s tips to help you eliminate stressful chaos and bring order to your workday this spring season:
Declutter your desk to destress
A clear desk equals a clear mind. Common sense tells us that a cluttered workspace literally prevents us from getting as much work done in a set amount of time. Everyone knows searching among a sea of papers for notes from a specific meeting or having to stop your workflow to clean up yesterday’s coffee you elbowed and spilled is a waste of precious time but the Harvard Business Review shares how a mess at your desk can affect your mind too. Research has shown
“cluttered spaces can have negative effects on our stress and anxiety levels, as well as our ability to focus, our eating choices, and even our sleep.”
In 2009, an American study found levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to anxiety and depression over time, were higher in mothers whose houses were cluttered.
Scientists at Princeton University found that our brains respond best to order. In fact, they have proved constant visual reminders of disorganization such as pens strewn about and overstuffed filing cabinets deplete our cognitive resources and reduce our attention span. Therefore, it’s not surprising that when you clear your desk the results are positive; you are more likely to focus, process information, and manage your emotions effectively. The moral of the story is to get rid of the distractions!
So what’s the best way to go about cleaning your workspace?
Step 1: Assess what gadgets you frequently reach for and which ones are in the way. Then determine what is working for you and what isn’t.
Step 2: Sort through all the papers and cabinets and return everything to its rightful home.
Step 3: Purge! Ruthlessly throw out anything that is not helping you be productive, feel good, or is a duplicate of a tool you recently upgraded.
Step 4: Actually break out the cleaning products, the broom, the mop, the wipes, and the soap and water. A fresh start is best when it smells fresh.
Organize your emailing for smooth sailing
One of the biggest headaches of remote working for me is emails. I feel like I receive 10,000 emails a day; some important, some from a subscription I signed up for just to get 10% off three years ago. The worst is when I am looking for a prior email to or from coworkers that was not clearly labeled in the subject line so I have to sift through one by one to find what I’m looking for.
What’s the solution?
I highly recommend unsubscribing to anything you no longer read. Fewer emails coming in means fewer notifications, which means less anxiety from your phone or computer buzzing. Next, creating digital folders and having emails automatically file into them is a godsend. Last but not least delete all the emails that you no longer need. I know, this last one is crazy time-consuming, but the peace of mind you gain from having 1,000 emails instead of 10,000 emails is blissful and will definitely take your work stress from an 8 to a 4.
Get your apps in order for a productive quarter
The more apps the merrier, right? Wrong. There is an app for everything these days and it’s up to us to make sure they are helping not hurting our workflow. Take stock of how frequently you use the applications you have. If you are using them less than once a week, chances are they aren’t that helpful and there is a better solution out there that meets your needs. In addition, try to find apps that serve more than one purpose so that you aren’t wasting time checking multiple apps throughout the day.
Renew your routine so you can be a lean, mean, working machine
Now that you have gotten rid of all the things that no longer benefit your workday, it is time to recreate your daily routine. Take the hint from nature and make some changes with the season. It could be as small as switching from hot coffee to a cold brew or as impactful as clocking in and out an hour earlier. Additionally, look at your habits such as how often you need a break to step away from the computer or what times during the day you are connecting with colleagues the most and gauge whether adjustments can be made to streamline your schedule.
Refresh your mind to redesign
Finally, you made it to the fun part! You have done all of the hard work of spring cleaning and now it’s time to re-envision your home office. Breath in the freshness of the space and think about how to curate a space that encourages clarity, calm, and creativity. For example, an aromatic diffuser or picture of the ocean. Maybe reposition your desk to get more light or swap out the bookshelf for a comfy reading chair. The important thing here is to not replace junk with more junk. So be judicious with your choices and go for more of a minimalist aesthetic.
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