Are you a work hoarder?

One of our clients recently posted on LinkedIn that her daughter had started university and part of the preparations for her departure involved decluttering and deciding what should be taken & what should be left behind.

This naturally led to a question about work-related memorabilia collected over the years, and whether to keep our old business cards & articles or whether it is better to have a clear-out every so often. This started me thinking…. am I a work hoarder?

Clearly, a relatively neat workspace leads to improved productivity and the ability to locate information quickly is only achieved if filed in an orderly way.  When I first started my career, everything was on paper – CVs, application forms, photocopies of passports… all of which would of course be an absolute headache with the introduction of strict GDPR regulations!  However, now everything is filed digitally, we don’t have to worry about a mountain of paperwork any longer.

Some employers actually organise a ‘declutter day’ every so often where filing cabinets, desk trays etc. are purged of anything that hasn’t been used for let’s say 3 years.   Others suggest noting when documents can be shredded / archived on the document itself and working this way.

With the arrival of the pandemic, work and home spaces have collided for many of us and the need for definition of these spaces to avoid the blurring of work/life balance is more important than ever. As one comment to our client’s Linked In post suggested, perhaps now is a good time to think about an Autumn Clean rather than a Spring Clean? 

With this in mind, here are 6 steps which might be useful if you are a work hoarder:

  1. Attack one space at a time.  Clear everything from that area, clean it and then put everything back in its logical place – create zones such as your main workspace, reference area (files & folders) and supplies (drawers & shelves.)
  2. Digital Declutter.  Delete documents that are no longer needed, unsubscribe from any newsletters/emails that are not of interest to you, clear out downloads and delete all sent and deleted items that don’t need filing for later reference.
  3. Manage post and emails as soon as you can whether that means action, delegation or deletion.  Both physical piles of paper and a cluttered inbox will grow in size rapidly if not dealt with and will slow you down.
  4. Prioritise. Put whatever you use the most in the drawer nearest to you, and store what you use the least in the drawer furthest away.
  5. Tidy leads and cables. Tie them up and tuck them out of sight, ideally run them along the back of your desk and away from the floor.
  6. Finally, your workspace will get messier during the day so take 5 minutes to put everything back in its correct place at the end of your working day.

A clear workspace will help you to work effectively and reduce stress levels, and that has to be positive for our mental health too.

Article by Debbie Welch