zenhabits : breathe

Edit Your Life, Part 4: Your Work Space

Quick note: Every Wedneday is Simplicity Day on Zen Habits and for the next few weeks, these posts will be a series called “Edit Your Life,” looking at ways to simplify different parts of your life.

I’m a former newspaper editor, and one of the things I learned was to edit brutally (no sarcastic comments about why I don’t do that with my blog posts). Cut out everything that’s not necessary, and you’ve got a more meaningful story.

I highly recommend editing your life.

Today’s edit: Edit your work space.

If you’re at work, look around you — how many things are on your desk? How many things are up on the walls around you? How cluttered is your computer desktop? Are there piles of things around your desk?

All of these things are visual distractions, and as we are visual creatures, our minds do not let us ignore them. They pull for our attention, and stress us out.

The solution: simplify, edit, minimize.

In my workspace, I have a pretty minimal and clean setup. When I moved in, I stripped everything from the walls but a single, pretty calendar. I have one inbox, that’s usually empty (see: Steps to a Permanently Clear Desk), two photos of my family, a phone, a printer and a computer. Otherwise, my desktop is clear of everything but the document I’m working on at this moment. My computer has no desktop icons, and I try to have only one program open at a time (unless more than one is absolutely necessary).

It’s a clutter-free, distraction-free, stress-free and productive work space, and I highly recommend it to everyone. Your space could have a few personal items, to make it yours, but for the most part, you want to be able to focus on the task at hand, otherwise your work day will be more stressful than necessary.

A quick note about productivity: I should write another post about this, but when I write about productivity, it isn’t because I think we need to be working machines. In fact, if you’ve read any of my posts about slowing down and simplicity, you know I believe the opposite. Instead, productivity is important, to me, because if we can get our work done in a shorter amount of time, we have more time for ourselves, our families, and our goals.

Let’s edit our work spaces and create a simplified environment:

If you do all of the above, you should have a pretty nice and simplified work space now. If you can’t do it all at once, that’s fine — schedule one-hour chunks over the next 2-3 days and you should be done. When you’re done, sit back, look around, and enjoy! It should be immensely pleasing. Now keep it that way!

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