It’s about time I extend my minimalist practices to the workplace as well, starting with my very own desk. After many years of working the same job in the same company, I’ve come to realize that I don’t even use (or remember owning!) half of the things I own and helplessly store in my small drawers. At the same time, minimalism and productivity are said to go well together, and this is another benefit of minimalism that I would want to enjoy. So when it was time for me to set up my workspace, I had a very strategic approach.
1. Have a visual plan
Yes, I actually drew a plan for how I want my workspace to look like. And when I made this, I only kept in mind what I needed. I purposely didn’t go through my stuff and keep a mental note of what items I needed to save. The only things I considered in my visual plan were those that I actually remember and regularly use in my work. I mostly stuck with my visual plan and ended up letting go of so many things that I’ve kept with me over the years. So many outdated documents were finally placed in the recycling bin; so many dried out pens and other unnecessary items were finally disposed.
In my (very hideously illustrated) visual plan, I also allotted a space solely dedicated for storing important deliverables that need to be urgently attended to. This way, I can train my brain to work on those deliverables immediately and motivate myself to empty that space as fast as I can!
2. Set boundaries for supplies
As a teacher, I’ve trained myself to keep certain items just in case—colorful pens that I barely use, an overflowing amount of notepads—because I don’t always have the time and money to restock certain supplies. The result? An overstuffed workspace. This, of course, is not good for my productivity. I didn’t really have the time to strategize the X amount of pens or notepads I deemed necessary, so I thought of an alternative: if the items don’t fit in the storage space I’ve allotted for them, they would have to be discarded. For example, all the pens that didn’t fit in the mason jar (which I use as a substitute for a pen holder) will either be disposed or given away.
3. Repurpose some items
While clearing up my workspace clutter, I tossed a basket—a basket!—which I used as a pen and supplies holder (it appears that I used to have a pen hoarding problem). The basket was already very old and on its last legs, and seeing that it’s no longer in good condition kind of stressed me out. That leaves me without a pen holder, but luckily, I found out that I still have a mason jar which I can use for that purpose. Plus, it’s significantly smaller than the basket I used to have! The mason jar wasn’t an item I initially thought of keeping, but since it fulfills a very important purpose in my work, I gave it a welcome space in my desk.
4. Give away some stuff
I do feel some guilt over no longer seeing the need for some items that were barely used. But the good news is, someone else could find use for them. I’m glad that some colleagues happily welcomed some items I’ve let go to their own collection of supplies. Again, the benefit is twofold—I was able to declutter while also helping someone else restock on these things.
I’d like to think that I’m done setting up my workspace for this year, but I also want to keep my options open. After all, so many changes can still happen. I’m also trying to see if I could add a few decorations on my desk, just to add a little flavor to it. 😉