Workspace Effectiveness

To be effective in the space that earns us money and/or makes our life (household) run smoothly, we’re better served if that space serves us – functionally, aesthetically – any combination of ‘side-ways’ inputs.

office tools livingbluprintsI personally love *pretty* things… I like working with my colored fine tip Sharpies and well-textured notebooks. I like to have things around me that remind me of my creative side (especially when I am doing tedious and/or uninspired work). And of course, I love tools that help me stay organized.

“Organized workspace…?  Really – who has the time?”

I’m convinced that some don’t see the merit in having an ordered workspace – or they downplay the importance because of an inability to get it together and/or stay on top of it (and no shame/judgment here – I have often been totally stymied to stay on top of it). Moreover, some continue to work within the chaos, AND get considerable amount of work done, so this ‘obsession’ with a functional workspace seems overrated.

Statistics show that employees can be overlooked for promotions because of a messy desk or office. Other stats show that many workers waste HOURS looking for misplaced documents (even files on their computers). I think we get this intuitively – if you were to go to the office of a professional service provider (lawyer, broker, even doctor or dentist) and the place was a mess, I’d bet you’d question your choice of provider.

I’d argue that we would all prefer a more seamless work environment. A few years ago, my employer moved to a new Boston office and the 2.5 floors of freshly renovated space literally put a spring in the step of just about all of us. Whenever I spy the right coffee shop and/or hotel lobby, I look forward to the opportunity to return and use the space as my own satellite office! When I was a kid, whenever my sister had just finished cleaning her room, I’d invite myself in an sit (or lie) on her bed. (Oh, how frustrated she’d be with me!!) And I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love entering a clean, well-appointed hotel room that’s been ‘made ready’ for their very visit.

You are worth a beautiful, organized space!

Most would choose a neat, well-appointed space over a confused, cluttered one. So why don’t we CREATE this for ourselves? Why don’t we hold ourselves in high enough regard to ‘make ready’ the space for ourselves?! We are all worth this, and we are better able to serve those around us, when we honor ourselves in this way. I’m tellin’ ya, physical execution leads to mental shifts that allow powerful results. These physical space adjustments are seemingly small, but their power should not be underestimated!

I am inspired to make spaces look beautiful (and actually offer this as a remote service). I am less naturally gifted when it comes to functionality, and because I come from a place of struggle with this, I am ideally suited to help others who struggle. I have learned methods and systems for increased control and ease in the workspace; I share of these methods and systems here. If you’d like more guidance, consider hiring me as your personal workspace productivity coach!

Physical clutter gets into our brains, inhibiting our focus

Whenever I let clutter build up on my work surface, I begin to seek other places to work (the living room, kitchen, a coffee shop), and/or I find that my ability to stay focused becomes impaired.

Spending even 5 minutes a day decluttering some portion of your workspace can have a buoying effect.  You could even have such a 5 minute ‘decluttering break’ -> if you feel the need for distraction from your work: stop, set the timer for 5 minutes, and begin to tidy.

To begin to organize…

…all you need are three piles: to do, to file, to toss.  See how I worked with a client to create a system for more automatic sense of ‘what to do’ with paperwork, and other office ‘collectibles.’

  • to do – keep a box lid, or some other kinds of ‘container’ for this… example items in this category (using my own current ‘to do’ box): a AAA application I need to fill out, an envelope with a return address I need to record, an Ethan Allen catalog I’d like to scour for ideas and inspiration
    • these can sit in that ‘container’ to be ‘processed’ at designated times; YOU will set times (10-15 minute increments) to process these.  Processing does not need to happen while you are decluttering, but it does need to happen!
  • to file – if you don’t have a filing system yet, you can at least procure some files (no need for hanging files); get colored files if they inspire you, and you can simply label with a post-it as you categorize
    • don’t get hung up with file names/naming conventions… just name in ways that make sense to you. For example, my car files are under S for Subaru and not A for Auto because that’s what suits me!
  • to toss – this one is pretty straight-forward; keep a bin or shredder near by and BE LIBERAL!

Consider a mini office-overhaul…

You could consider giving yourself an office makeover. My own office has been ‘redone’ a few times. By make-over, I don’t necessarily mean major designer elements ($$), built-ins, and new furniture [though there certainly isn’t anything wrong with this and I anticipate these in my (near) future!!]

For aesthetic impact and appeal consider:

  • painting one wall, or even a piece of furniture
  • putting up some homosote bulletin boards (for vision board, or just decorative)painted filing cabinet homosote bulletin board
  • investing in a good quality filing cabinet
    • don’t believe the myth that paper is a thing of the past… while I don’t think we need to save EVERYthing, the need to save paperwork will be with us for a while
    • I picked up my filing cabinet from a used office supply shop for about $70 (good quality units are usually a few hundred dollars) and I eventually painted it
  • for a few hundred bucks (or less, or more!) you can have a very different space!  I’d be happy to work with you remotely to help re-envision the right solution for your specific space

Create satellite work spaces!

Working from home can cause one to become stir-crazy (certainly true for me, anyway). Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy the freedom and not being chained to a commuter train (or traffic) schedule, but one needs to get out of the house to be healthy!!


  • coffee shops anywhere in a 15 minute radius from your home; this can become a cool field trip-like experience, and you can even tweet about where you are and what you are working on!
  • hotel lobbies – I am amazed at how open the hotels seem to be about having folks work and meet in their spaces; many are getting more ‘set up’ for this type of service, with outlets and wifi available
  • local library – the only frustrating thing about the library are the hours… ok, and maybe the NO EAT / DRINK policies

Develop (or build onto) some deliberate work routines

I need to do research on this, but I suspect that most working professionals look to their email for guidance on how to structure their day. One of the downsides of this is that we place ourselves in a position of reaction right from the beginning of the work day… this certainly doesn’t result in a sense of control.

Quick Tip: At the end of each work day, sketch out where you are and where you might start tomorrow. Of course, be opening to shifting as daily happenings occur, but having a plan puts us in better frame of mind – a sense of ready!

if you are at the mercy of email, per your job role…

For almost the entirety of the past 12 years of my professional work life, I have been in a position that requires this constant reaction to email; I can say first hand how incredibly, totally exhausting this is. If you happen to be in a position that requires a constant email ‘presence’ I’ve outlined one way to increase your sense of control:

  • while I am technically required to *respond* within 15 minutes, I can actually use the 15 minutes as part of a system.
  • I set my timer for 15 minutes and focus my time on a portion of a specific project (or whatever) and don’t allow myself to look anywhere else until that timer goes off!
  • I am amazed at what I can do in 15 minutes
  • try variations on this and let me know what works for you!

You might be a project manager and therefor use project management software.  I have little experience with these (as yet), but with most systems, they are great in theory, but not if they are not used, understood, or easy to implement with baby steps.

project lists

I use a project list, overall, and keep notes as to progress on each of the projects for which I am personally responsible.  I like having a list that is just a title of projects that is separate from the fleshed out notes/progress on each project.  I literally, at times, have a list on my desktop (in a notepad file) entitled, “Big Things.”  Depending on the type of work you do, it’s likely that sometimes certain projects take priority, but when they calm down, we can have a difficult time determining what’s next on the list!


I believe the number one issue with procrastination is the supposed enormity (or maybe ambiguity) of a project that makes it seem impossible to tackle.


  • if you were to look at the very next immediate action to move a lagging project forward, how achievable is it?
  • if you saw the entire project as a series of small tasks, what percent of those tasks have you completed in the past?
  • do you understand the true value or reason for endeavoring in this project?
    • if you don’t, seek to find out!
  • does this project align with bigger or longer term goals?  (if you work for a company, this could mean understanding the goals of your department; if self-employed, maybe it means understanding which specific efforts will have the biggest impact on your business!)

acknowledge your physiology

We are animals and I could have listed this item first.  As Maslow suggests, as animals, we will always be preoccupied by our biological needs first and foremost.

Consider what you loved doing as a child – something that totally absorbed all of your being – something you could do for hours with full engagement.

  • how incredible would it be to achieve such engagement in our vocation?
  • how necessary to incorporate these activities in our regular day!?
    • our minds sometimes need a shift**
    • we need to be reminded of the entirety of our beings – physical and mental – and what drives us

work-break-shift examples

  • I love to sing; if at home, I turn to YouTube, look up lyrics, and get my sing-on
  • I love home dec; I’ll turn to Pinterest and or a DIY blog to get juices flowing for my next home project
  • I love to snowboard; I’ll read about snow vacation destinations and dream about our next big trip

… then I get right back to work!

to be your very best at work…

Shift your location, shift your physicality, and shift your your mind to stay fresh and engaged.  Ready your space and ready your energy and you’ll work effectively to be the prosperous contributor within the world around you. These efforts will allow your unique gifts to manifest, increasing confidence, control, and personal success.

Want more help executing your *BEST* work and life?

Hire Linda to provide one-on-one coaching and/or come into your workplace for workshops and seminars. Contact Linda today –, 617.512.9572!