Here’s a video with an easy exercise to make a difference in your workspace. I tell a story, and somehow make a connection between light fixtures and writing things down at work… There’s some Marie Kondo magic in there too.

If videos aren’t your thing, read further below for a quicker version, and for how to take the next step after this first exercise. Enjoy!

Lightbulb-story-free version:

  1. Think of all the kinds of things you need to write down in your work. Quick notes? Lists? Interoffice memos? (really?) Do you edit long manuscripts? Draw diagrams? Make mindmaps?
  2. Gather up ALL the writing pads, paper, sticky notes, voicemail logbooks, etc etc you have in your workspace. All. Yes, include that rainbow memo cube from secret santa four years ago.
  3. Match the paper to the tasks from step 1, using the same pad/paper for as many functions as possible. Keep as few types of paper as you can – I have one notepad, three sizes of sticky notes, a planner, and a notebook/journal.
  4. Give away or recycle everything except the few needed and a replacement or two for those.

The magic here is in the simplicity and clarity. You know why you have each of the things you kept – they each have a purpose.

Now… do this for other office supplies. My favourite is paper clips, elastics, etc. How many do you actually use in a typical day? How many do you have? I use two or three a day at most, but had huge numbers of all sorts and sizes in nooks and crannies throughout my office. Now I have a few regular paper clips and a couple of binder clips. Nooks and crannies are clutter-free.

Envelopes? File folders? Pens? Tape? (turns out I almost never use tape for work – I had a dispenser taking up prime real estate on my desk for decades!) Labels? Binders?

Don’t just tidy up what you have. Start with your needs and uses for them, then give away all the ones that don’t have a clear purpose. There’s no need to keep supplies “just in case” – office supply emergencies are rare.

Have fun clearing out the unnecessary so that it’s easy to put your hands on the things you do need 🙂

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