Ah, spring—the season of tidying up, decluttering, and cleaning. If you’re like most people, spring-cleaning may happen in your kitchen, garage, and closets—but what about your workplace? After all, we’re expected to spend quite a few of our waking hours at work, all while staying productive.
Whether your cubicle, the shared drive, the break room, or even the storage room, someplace in your office is guaranteed to need a good cleaning. Spring is a great time to evaluate your space and make some firm decisions about what can stay and what will go. The best part? You’ll be more excited to show up to work with a cleaner and more focused space. A clean area creates room for creativity and productivity. This is not just a myth—a study done by researchers at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute found that the more cluttered space is, the more distracted we become.
Here are seven areas to concentrate on this season:
- Paper. Notes, meeting agendas, printouts, and other ephemera tend to stack up, saved just in case I need to reference this someday. But for most of us, that someday never comes. If papers are more than six months old and don’t contain crucial instructions or details that aren’t backed up electronically, it’s time to recycle or shred them. This will clear up space on your desk—and ease your mind.
- Email. This task can be daunting, but it’s the type of cleaning that can truly improve productivity and overall effectiveness at work. Cleaning your email doesn’t have to include mass deletion. But it should include organizing old emails into folders and deleting spam.
- The physical desk/computer. Wipe it down! Janitors may vacuum the floor, but dust collects quickly on desktop computers and desks. While this should be a year-round task, spring is a good time to be a little more thorough in your efforts: Strip your desk down and clean the entire surface. Dust behind the computer.
- Pens/office supplies. How many pens in your drawer actually work? Get out some scratch paper and test your supply. Weed out any dead pens, sharpen your pencils, get rid of that dried-up bottle of Wite-Out that dates back to the first Bush administration.
- Snacks. Take a quick peek at the snacks near your desk. What’s the expiration date on that tea you meant to start drinking last… May? This can also be a chance to reevaluate your snacks in terms of these questions: Is this providing valuable nutrients? Have I even eaten this in the past three months? How does it make me feel after I eat it? While spring is about cleaning, it can also be about clearing out snacks that don’t serve you.
- Shared spaces. This can include the shared fridge, storage room, or even the shared drive at work. It’s best to tackle these tasks as a group, of course, which may be why they get put off throughout the year. Take the spring-cleaning opportunity to galvanize some support from your coworkers and get those jobs done.
- Decor. After getting rid of excess paper, old office supplies, and dust, you’re likely to have more space in your work area. Fill it with something that inspires, calms, relaxes, or energizes you. Put up inspirational quotes or replace your current ones with new ones. Add a low-maintenance plant to your desk. Put up some new artwork. Update the old pictures of your kids or dog with more current ones.
Once you’ve freshened up your workspaces, don’t forget to take a few moments to appreciate your efforts and contemplate this season of rejuvenation and new beginnings.
Dana Lester has a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics. She is passionate about holistic wellness, eating fruit, and writing.