St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, originated the concept of living by “The Little Way”. Her living small theme promotes a way of life meant to enrich those who want to serve others through their littleness, simplicity, and love.
You may ask yourself: what does a Catholic saint, who lived in the late 1800s, have to do with decluttering a freelancer’s office space?
Quite a bit, actually.
Little Steps Pave the Way to an Organized Space
Start by assessing your office space and creating a list for every weekday. Each day, you’ll accomplish a mini decluttering session. Just as you break your annual business goals into smaller, more manageable chunks, you also need to break your overall office declutter and organization mission into easy-to-accomplish mini-tasks.
Using this little way plan, you can have your office space in tiptop shape by Friday afternoon.
Check out this sample schedule. Keep in mind that this schedule just represents a loose guide. You can customize yours to fit your individual level of mind-numbing, creativity-killing clutter and projected time frame:
MONDAY – Pick up 5 things (no more) and designate a permanent spot for them. Choose items you actually use in the scope of your office work, but that lack a suitable home. You may not know what spot would serve as the ideal home, but just step back, think about how you use the items, one at a time. Designate a good spot based on this assessment. Commit to always return the item to its home when you’ve finished using it.
TUESDAY – Separate your personal papers from your business papers. I’m talking about things you need to keep – in a file, not in a pile. Come up with a file system that flows with the way you work. Do you need to access certain files every day, or several times a day? How do you look for certain papers or files? Create a filing system that will accommodate your individual style and make it quick and easy to find what you need. Just try something that you think will work. You can always try something else next week, if it doesn’t.
Find a home outside of your office space for important personal documents. Perhaps all you’ll need to neatly house these is an accordion file.
WEDNESDAY – Create your digital filing system for personal and business computer files. Freelance writers, and other freelancers who use other mediums, can amass a considerable amount of digital files. Create one digital filing system for personal files and a separate one for your business files. You can create a master folder for each business and personal items and then create subfolders to house files belonging to various categories.
Mark your calendar at six-month intervals for a purging session to trash files you will never need again. This bi-annual activity can recover a significant amount of disk space you can then use to store new files. It might help to set an alert on your computer to remind you as the purge date approaches.
THURSDAY – Designate a command center to use as your starting zone. This should remain absolutely clutter free. A good spot is to the right and left and all around your keyboard and computer workspace. Add a bi-level tray for incoming and outgoing papers, such as correspondence, receipts, and other paperwork.
Do not use this tray as a permanent or long-term place for any papers. Use it for the day’s mail, which you will sort and file or discard as necessary; and for any other papers that you will file at the end of each business day in your new filing system. Tell yourself that you cannot leave the office area until you’ve emptied and properly taken care of all papers in the two trays – no exceptions.
FRIDAY – Now the fun starts. Add a personal touch and simple storage spaces. You can place an area rug you find appealing on the floor, hang artwork and photos, and bring in some greenery – either real or silk.
Avoid placing framed photos on your desk. This will mark the beginning of a cluttered environment, which will then allow your area to slip into disorganization once again. Instead, hang a floating, or other type, shelf on the wall nearby and place personal photos and mementos there. Reserve your desk and surrounding surfaces for items you need to access frequently, leaving lots of clear space to emphasize your new organized style.
Productivity Blooms from Simplicity
Design your five-day plan to fit your individual needs, but only schedule one task per day. That way you won’t get overwhelmed with the enormity of the job and the little victories you’ll experience with each day’s accomplished task will boost your resolve to carry on till done.
When you complete your final class on Friday, you’ll have a nicely organized workspace where you can think clearly and create exceptionally. If you want to continue to “tweak” what you’ve done, continue to make a schedule of mini-missions to accomplish your ultimate vision of simplicity. Follow the little way to accomplish big things.
“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” - Albert Einstein
Images: pristinehomeoffice and order_chaos – stock from fotalia,