This blog is long, so bear with me: I used to save EVERYTHING. I had receipts in my George Costanza wallet from my trip to Kroger months ago. I had birthday cards in my closet from when I was in High School. My room was a disaster: every area of space (dresser, desk, bookshelf) was covered with opened mail, old magazines, and books I had finished reading.
Two weeks ago, I decided to make a change, beginning with my workspace, and it has carried over to the rest of my life. It all started when I read Tim Ferriss’s blog on Rethinking the Office (whole blog here) where he explains a unique office situation in Europe:
“Through simple redesign of workspaces, Interpolis of Holland increased productivity 20%, and sick leave has dropped from 9% to 2.5%. Last but not least, their new design also brings in 90,000 visitors a year.”
How did they do it? This next part will seem confusing to anybody working in a cubicle or behind a big desk with filing cabinets in a corporate environment:
“Individual offices seem to play no role?
No. Interpolis has open designed work floors and a large meeting floor: The Plaza, which was differently designed by artists. That’s where you can eat, drink coffee and discuss in large or small groups.
And every morning everybody hunts for his desk…
The employees are released, so to speak, in environments where there is no separate desk, where you work almost paperless without standard office desks but several different ones – suitable for all kinds of activities.”
Then, Tim posted a picture of his own home office (if you can even call it that):
I looked at the picture, then looked at my desk, and decided that I was going to make a change. Before beginning the transformation, I forwarded the blog to Andy knowing that he had a similar philosophy. Two minutes later, he ran into the marketing department yelling, “That blog! That was how I wanted to set up our new office, but everybody looked at me like I was crazy! I knew it was a good idea!”
30 minutes later, after going through every piece of paper on my desk and realizing they were completely unnecessary, I had a desk with four things on it: my computer, a lamp, my Sixthman notebook, and a glass of water. Immediately my day seemed less stressful, there was more clarity to each task I needed to complete, and I was more productive. That night, I went home and cleaned up my room: I took all the papers off my desk, fixed my unorganized filing cabinet (a shoebox with all my important documents mixed in with useless junk mail), and folded all my laundry. Suddenly, my entire life seemed less stressful. This stuff actually works!
I’m currently trying to apply this simplistic, minimalist approach to other aspects of my life:
1) Stop buying DVDs! I have a DVD collection that borders on ridiculous. However, I haven’t bought a new movie in about 3 months, I have saved tons of money, and I still get to watch whatever I want, whenever I want (thank you netflix and iTunes).
2) Plan to buy a Kindle when I can afford it. I love to read: I read every night before bed, and every morning right when I wake up. I often go through two or three books a week, which means I have a bookshelf LOADED with books I probably won’t read again. If I could condense a bookshelf full of old books into a 6 by 9 inch tablet, that’s one less thing to deal with, right?
3)Make sure all of my bills are paid electronically, so that I don’t have to receive them in the mail and deal with individually: one less thing to remember once the automatic payments are set up too. Better for the environment as well.
4)Go through my closet, applying the 80/20 rule, and find out which 20% of my clothes I wear 80% of the time, and get rid of the stuff I never wear. Try it out with your closet. I guarantee you’ll find plenty of clothes you’ll never wear again, but you’re holding onto “just in case.” You’ll never wear them, so why not bring them to a homeless shelter or goodwill?
This is where I’m at so far. Anybody else have issues with a cluttered desk or too much junk in their closets? Any suggestions on what else I can do to keep it simple?