After purging all my office supplies when we moved overseas, I was determined to keep my new workspace as simple and streamlined as possible. Not only do I work better in an uncluttered environment; I don’t want to accumulate anything extra by the next time we move!
Here’s ten techniques to keep things to a minimum:
1. Stop incoming paperwork. Get off mailing lists, cancel magazine subscriptions, and sign up for online billing and statements. The less physical mail you have to deal with (and file), the better!
2. Digitize existing paperwork. Sure, a scanner is one more piece of office equipment; but it’ll probably take up less space than the paperwork it replaces! If you don’t need a physical copy of something, turn it into bits and bytes – that way, you’ll still have the info, without all the clutter.
3. Print as little as possible. Think long and hard before you hit the “print” button – the last thing you need is more paperwork to file! As an alternative, print to a PDF file using free software like cutePDF or pdf995.
4. Use an online fax service. Instead of devoting valuable space to a fax machine, make use of an online service like eFax.com. If you only send faxes once in a blue moon, do it from Staples or a copy shop.
5. Lose the landline and answering machine. If you use your cell phone and voice mail to conduct business, you can do away with these devices and save the desk space.
6. Think multi-functional. The more things you can accomplish with one machine, the better. For example: instead of having a separate printer, scanner, and photocopier, invest in one device that performs all three tasks.
7. Downsize your supplies. If you’ll never use 1000 paperclips, 500 file folders, or 50 pens, give away the excess (to friends, family, or a nonprofit). Instead of buying super-size quantities of office items, purchase only what meets your needs.
8. See what you can live without. Don’t own things simply because they’re “expected.” I never thought I could go a year without a stapler or paperclips — but I’m happy to report that I have. (I guess attaching papers isn’t as important as I’d thought!) I also haven’t had need of a highlighter, hole punch, or rubber bands (all things I used to own).
9. Ditch the desktop. A laptop takes up much less space, and gives you the freedom to work anywhere. You may even end up ditching the desk! :-)
10. Do less work. Just kidding (sort of). Instead of taking on every project that comes down the pike, leave yourself a little free time. Not only will you be less stressed; you’ll have an emptier inbox, desk, and file cabinet to boot!
What techniques do you use to create a minimalist workspace? Share them with us in the comments!