Have you watched the latest Netflix hit? Marie Kondo has people across America cleaning out closets, clutching old t-shirts as they bid them goodbye, and donating in droves to thrift stores.
Tidying up for remote work does not mean you need to pile all your supplies and files on your office floor. (Although some of you might find that useful!) Tidying up for effective remote work requires a different kind of organization. Since Marie Kondo won’t likely be making a trip to your house any day soon, here are some tips to help you find what “sparks joy” for you in your workspace.
Let Go of Time-Wasters
Working from home brings visions of a four-hour workday. Working smart. Working fast. In control of your day. You’ve left behind the commute, unnecessary meetings, and quick pop-ins that break your attention. However, that four-hour day can easily stretch to ten hours if you’re not careful.
Get on top of your tools. Try time tracking apps, such as Toggl, to get a realistic look at how long you’re spending on each project. Whether you plan digitally or on paper, plan to block off time for work projects, exercise, and relationships. Link your calendar, scheduling app, and conferencing software to automate your appointments. As you evaluate how you spend your days, ask this question: Am I poised to find joy through the way I have my day planned?
Let Go of Clients, Projects, or Processes
Remote work is often contract work. Choosing one client or project may require saying “no” to another. Trading better for best takes time and confidence. Watch for the triggers that it may be time let go. Frustration and anger may rise when you think about projects that should be on the way out. You may find yourself cleaning your house or organizing your desktop to avoid a client or project. Learn to recognize when you’re using these productive tasks as avoidance mechanisms. Your work will not spark joy 100 percent of your day.
However, knowing when to let go of projects, processes, or clients will gradually move you to higher job satisfaction.
Consider what needs ending with this question: When I open an email from this client, am I anticipating or dreading the communication?
Let Go of Distractions
Working from home brings distraction to a whole new level. When you’re at work, you’re not tempted to take the dog for a walk or throw a load of clothes in the dryer. Start by examining your workspace. What are the distractions on your desktop? When you have a video conference, make a habit of going to full-screen. Turn off notifications or even wifi access when you’re doing deep work. Then look at the space around your computer. Do you have what you need to do your job efficiently? If you have to go to another room to look for something, there will be ten distractions on the way. If possible, have a home office and use the door to block interruptions. Evaluate your workspace by asking yourself: What is one thing that would bring focus in my workspace?
Let Go of Lies
Remote work satisfaction is possible and desirable. Satisfaction is partly mental. When Marie Kondo shows people how to say goodbye to their old t-shirts, she is addressing mental attachments, habits, and ways of thinking. Since I laughed out loud watching people caress their t-shirts, I won’t ask you to do the same with a client folder. However, recognizing what is going on in your mind related to your work will bring some of your best personal development, leading to work success.
Find the truth by asking yourself: What lies, habits, or fears are standing in the way of my remote work satisfaction?
Weighing What You Add to Your Space
Watching Marie Kondo work her magic, I had to wonder, “What will their space look like in six months?” Lasting change requires daily attention. If you create a time space by dropping a client, weigh carefully which new client takes that slot. When you’re tempted to purchase the latest gadgets, books, or even planners, pause first and consider your physical and mental workspace. Tidying up can create some long-desired order that will quickly be cluttered if you’re not maintaining. Use this question to evaluate everything you add to your workspace and your day: Will this (item, practice, client) bring joy?