Albert Einstein once said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
Many people are working from home for the first time right now. It’s not surprising that many people are finding their home office to be cluttered and inefficient. This creates an unnecessary drain on the brain and creativity.
Work ought to be evaluated based on productivity, and your home office or workspace should maximize it. This can be done by eliminating unnecessary items, reducing waste, detoxing your digital world and physical junk mail, and going paperless.
ADOPT THE 5 Rs:
Use the 5 Rs to reduce waste from your home office (and your entire home). Hint: recycling is not the magic pill.
- REFUSE. It all begins with refusing to bring unnecessary items into your home to begin with. Say no to business cards, goodie bags, free pens or pencils, junk mail, and wasteful shipping materials.
- REDUCE. What items do you actually need in your home office? Probably not 20 pens from hotels, conferences, and banks.
- Subscribe to the ancient proverb that says, “Use it up, wear it out, mike it do, or do without.” For example, can you repurpose shipping material or paper that only has print on one side?
- RECYCLE. In his book Cradle to Cradle, author William McDonough wrote, “Recycling is an aspirin, alleviating a rather large collective hangover…overconsumption.” If we only bring in items that are necessary and reuse whatever we can, there shouldn’t be much left for recycling.
- You might wonder how composting applies to the home office. Since pencils are now made with graphite, pencil shavings can go in the compost. Shredded paper is a great carbon-based item for the compost, too.
DO A DIGITAL DETOX:
- Evaluate your social media accounts that drain your time and reduce your productivity. You can create time blocks for using them, use apps that set timers for them, or remove them from your phone and computer bookmarks bar.
- Block time for Internet-related tasks to avoid getting sidetracked.
- Turn off your cell phone while working to limit outside distractions from calls, texts, and other notifications.
- Set times to check emails if your work allows, such as three times a day.
- Clear your computer desktop so reduce visual digital clutter.
- Streamline digital folders regularly to keep them from getting cluttered with useless items.
KICK JUNK MAIL TO THE CURB:
- Give out contact information only when necessary.
- Go to DMAchoice .org to stop direct mail.
- Go to OptOutPrescreen.com to stop credit card and insurance offers.
- Go to YellowPagesOptOut.com to stop receiving the phone directory.
- Go to CatalogChoice.org to cancel catalogs you don’t want to receive.
- Don’t open unwanted first-class mail. Write “Refused- Return to Sender” and “Take me off your mailing list” on the front of the unopened envelope. The first-class postage includes return service.
- Bulk mail is harder to stop. You should contact the sender directly.
- Subscribe to digital versions of the newspaper and magazines.
- Digitize important receipts and documents. Digital files are valid for tax purposes.
- Email invitations or greeting cards instead of printing them.
- If a fax service is necessary for your business, use an online fax service instead.
- Pay bills online.
- Sign up for paperless billing and bank statements.
- Opt-out of paper newsletters.
- Sign documents electronically when possible.
- Turn down business cards. Enter relevant information directly into your smartphone contacts or take a photo.
- Borrow books from the library or use their online digital resources
For more great ideas, we recommend the book Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste by Bea Johnson.