decluttering work space

Clutter has been linked with heightened anxiety, stress, and low productivity levels. If you’re a freelancer trying to manage a business and a million-and-one different clients and projects, this can mean big problems for not only your financial success but also your sanity. Take a look at these six tips for decluttering your work space so that you can get more done more efficiently and with much less stress.

1. Ten-Minute Tidy

A college roommate first introduced me to the “ten-minute tidy,” and ever since then, this method has never let me down. Even if you feel like your entire house or office is an absolute wreck and you’re overwhelmed by how much there is to clean, put ten minutes on the timer and get to work. You’ll be surprised at how much speed-cleaning you can get done in a short amount of time, and the result will help you feel like you’ve made some serious progress. If there’s still more to be done, schedule another quick ten-minute declutter session tomorrow and the next day, and before you know it, your office will be sparkling.

2. Get a Few Office Staples

These are figurative staples we’re talking about. Have piles of papers everywhere but nowhere to organize them? Invest in a filing cabinet or two. Is your printer still sitting on the floor in the corner of your home office? Find it a home up off the ground and preferably with some extra storage space for paper and ink. These types of investments can 1) usually be tax write-offs and 2) help you clear off your desk so you don’t have to constantly stare at clutter while you work.

3. Get Cords and Wires Under Control

It might seem like a small detail, but that pile of messy, tangled cords under your desk isn’t doing anything for the clean, organized flow you’re going for. There are tons of products out there designed to help you organize and even hide cords and wires. Lifehacker even has a clever way of using rain gutters to tame your cords. A small investment like this can go a long way.

4. Pitch It

If you haven’t used an item that’s been hanging out in your office with you for months, it might be time to let go of it. Don’t be afraid to do a little spring (or fall) cleaning every now and again and get rid of unnecessary papers or other items that are just taking up space.

5. “Power Down” at the End of the Day

A day in the life of a freelancer can be nothing short of chaotic, so it’s understandable if you’ve accumulated a bit of a mess throughout the day. Do yourself a favor, though, and take a minute or two at the end of your workday to spruce up the place so that you can sit down at a tidy desk the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to go get ’em.

6. Don’t Obsess

There’s a fine line between wanting to work more efficiently in a clean, organized environment and wasting your entire workday cleaning and organizing. Build in enough time here and there to stay organized, but don’t obsess over it. Remember, the idea is to reduce stress.