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Day 4: Streamline Your Environment in One Of These 6 Simple Ways

Do you ever want to throw your hands up in despair while looking around at your workspace? Does it inspire you and fill you with the confidence to do a great job?

While many people think that creativity thrives in chaos, the truth is that most of us work our best in an orderly environment that is free of distractions.

Too much visual clutter makes it difficult for most people to concentrate. It’s also almost impossible to maintain focus when you constantly have to root around to find what you need instead of being able to lay your hands on it immediately.

A streamlined work environment is your best bet for being able to think clearly and creatively and maintain your flow.

Here are 6 simple ways to streamline your environment:

1.      Be ruthless with clutter. If you don’t need it, toss it out. If you do need it, but not now, immediately put it away or file it. It only takes a few seconds to deal with papers and objects as they come in, however if you put them in a pile to be sorted out later it becomes increasingly difficult. Keep in mind that in this digital age, it’s very rare to find that something is truly irreplaceable so don’t fret too much about throwing things out.

2.      Use closed door storage systems. There will be things that you need to keep but there is no reason for most of them to be on display. Plus, items kept behind closed cabinet doors won’t accumulate dust and are more protected from the environment. This doesn’t mean to shove everything in a closet haphazardly, but keeping your boxes and files in a cabinet type storage system will give your workplace a sleeker, more serene look. If that’s too sterile for your tastes, consider using cloth lined baskets on a shelf to keep things sorted and organized while still looking warm and cozy.


3.      Group your items by task. For example, keep envelopes, stamps and address labels together to make sending letters a breeze. Or keep all reference materials and notes for a particular project together in one binder or box. This will not only save you time when you sit down to work but also make tidying up afterwards a breeze. It’s much easier to put 5 items back in the same box than put 5 items back in 5 different places.


4.       Implement a one in, one out policy for ornamental items. Make it a rule that if you buy or are given a new work of art or other decorative item that you will not display it unless you remove an older piece. This will help you avoid busy, cluttered surfaces and can make it easier to say no to impulse purchases. Displaying fewer items makes it easier for the eye to appreciate each individual object.

5.       Make tidying up a nightly routine. Unfortunately there is no shortcut around this; the only way to make a routine is to keep doing it until it’s a habit. The good news is that once it is a habit it will feel no more intrusive than brushing your teeth every night before going to bed. A quick once over to gather up any stray papers or objects and put things where they belong should take no more than five or ten minutes and will help you start the day feeling more calm and centered.

6.       Work with your natural instincts, not against them. It will be much easier to keep things sleek and streamlined if you look at where things naturally wind up and make a home for them there. That might mean making a shelf for reference books you need on a daily basis near your desk instead of storing them on the bookshelf in the living room. Or placing a coat and shoe rack right by the front door instead of expecting them to be stored in the bedroom. The key is to find a way to keep things where they naturally wind up in a way that looks neat and organized instead of messy and cluttered.

Remember, it will take a while to make keeping a streamlined environment a habit. Have the confidence to stick with it and you’ll find that it’s easier to start tasks and complete them in a sleek, organized environment and it will become increasingly easy to keep things put away in the right place.


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Tracy O’Connor blogs blogs about ghostwriting and living a better life. Follow her on Twitter.

17 Responses to Day 4: Streamline Your Environment in One Of These 6 Simple Ways

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  3. Mark Lewis says:

    One way I have streamlined my environment is by keeping a clean desk. I used to have a file in and file out bin which I would use to organize things and I would let it pile up. Stuff would slip through the cracks. I got rid of it and everything else on my desk. My new regime is to take care of something immediately, as soon as it lands on my desk.

    At first it may seem like it interrupts my workflow but it has had just the opposite effect. I’m able to complete other tasks more efficiently because I’m not thinking about the pile of stuff “to do.” Such a simple change with dramatic results. I hope it works for you too!

  4. The Vizier says:

    Hi Tracy,

    As I read this article, I realize how cluttered my work space is. You are right, too much visual clutter only serves to distract me from my work. It is hard to focus when everything is a mess.

    I like you simple tips on streamlining my environment. The ones that resonate most strongly with me are:

    1. Be ruthless with clutter.

    I like to collect stuff or save things for a rainy day. But in truth, the rainy day never comes and these things only take up space. Instead of being a solution, they become a problem.

    2. Use closed door storage systems.

    This is a good idea. I like to have things on my desk within easy reach. This is regardless of whether I will be using them in the short or long. The result is clutter. I shall implement this useful idea.

    5. Make tidying up a nightly routine.

    It is hard to manage everything at once. But if we break things down and tidy up nightly, it makes it easier to keep my environment streamlined.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Downtown Dan says:

    My biggest “thing” is making sure I end the day with a single, organized stack of work on my desk. I tend to make piles throughout the day. Seeing multiple piles can create unneeded stress. As a result, I found that if I work through each of the piles and end the day with a single pile that carries over to the next day then I am much less stressed.

    Owning your own business makes it difficult to complete everything on your to-do list each day. You know that some work will carry over. At the end of the day, it is important for me to visualize that there is a single, consolidated pile of work, rather than several piles. Why start the day off trying to focus on several different “tasks”? Focus on one pile and work your way through it. Single-tasking :)

  6. These are great suggestions, and I live by them. When my space is cluttered, I’M cluttered. My mind gets bogged down. Ideas don’t flow. A couple of my desk drawers may be messy, but I have cubbyholes, binders, file drawers, and everything has a place, and the only thing in my work space is what I’m working on and a few fun toys to lighten the spirit. :) I can attest to how much this helps!

  7. Collins says:

    Hi Tracy,

    That`s wonderful.Most people have this problem.Unfortunately,Iam one of those!

    Thanks!. I appreciate.

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  9. ravi patwardhan says:

    should be followed.

  10. mikael o kwamba says:

    i don’t allow things to cluster around me cos i try as much as i can to handle things immedaitly there come to my table and i thing that is the best way to handle cluster.

  11. Dlrego says:

    I am going to implement the item in, item out. I have a bad habit of leaving things in places so that I can stimulate the creative process. More times than not,I end up moving these things around a few times before I return them to the places they came from.

  12. Tejaswini_279 says:

    Hi Tracy! I completely agree with d tips given here.I do follow most of these rules already. Its only a little exhausting when d rest of the family doesn’t follows them. If its a joint effort then there’s nothing like it :)

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