08/31/2016 12:48 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Zen Office Space: 7 Ways To Keep The Inspiration In Your Place Of Work


Screenshot: Huffington Post

A couple years ago, a friend of mine came to my office to take me out to lunch. She had never come to see me on a weekday before. She stopped in her tracks the second she stepped through the office doors and I could see the alarm on her face.

Later that day she told me my office looked like something out of a horror movie.

She was spot on! And I know I'm not the only one with this problem.

The way your office looks can - and often does - affect your creativity and by consequence, your productivity. You spend a good 8 hours or more in this space getting stuff done. So, I'm sure you can understand the distraction that an unorganized office space brings.

Except for the weird few like Tony Hsieh, who love a messy workspace, the rest of us normal people can feel the inspiration leave us when working in an untidy atmosphere.

If you've got a 'horror movie themed' office like I did, here are a few ways to redo your workspace so that you feel constantly inspired as you work.

1. Purge your space

When I finally decided to take the trash out of my office, I was surprised at the amount of irrelevant stuff that had taken up residence in my office. You'd be surprised too when you decide to purge your own space. I had everything from useless papers strewn all over the place and tired file jackets to old stamps and dried out inkpads.

This is definitely the first item on your agenda to creating a productive space.

Purging your workspace is not something to be sentimental about; if you do not see an immediate or possible need for any given item then it does not belong in your office. If it has sentimental value, take it home and leave it there.

The objective of this exercise is to have a space that is absolutely free of clutter. Do not stop until that is achieved.

2. Create a system to deal with all incoming items

Now that you have cleared out your workspace, you do not want it getting cluttered again. I developed a system to catch all incoming items into my office.There's the important stuff such as documents; the everyday stuff like your jacket, umbrella and your mug; and the trash.
Dedicate an area of the office, preferably close to the door or some distance behind your desk, for these items so that they do not wind up everywhere else. This area should have stuff such as a credenza or a tray for holding files. A shelf, wall hook, box for other important stuff and a trash can.

There could be other items there but it will depend on the kind of work you do and the kind of stuff that comes into your office regularly.

3. Define your desktop

You should only have stuff you need immediately on your desktop. Every other thing should be in the areas you have designated for them.

For most people, the conventional items in this 'essential' category include a monitor and keyboard (or a laptop), current file being worked on, two pens, a notepad, a telephone, a reading lamp and a family photograph. Again, this list can be customized depending on the nature of your work.

4. Put plants in your office

I am not saying that you should go over the top and turn your office into a green house extension. Plants have been reported to improve work place productivity. It has health benefits, reduces the noise and stress levels in the workspace and generally creates o more serene atmosphere for you to work in.

Position household plants at strategic positions in your office, by the door, on the window pane and any other pace you might deem fit.

5. Get used to regular cleanup

The floor of your office is one of the most abused components of everyday office activity. You walk in and out of your office numerous times in a day for all sorts of reasons. So you should not be surprised that your carpet often regularly needs cleaning.

It is one thing to clean up your office; it is another thing to keep it clean. Do not spend all this time and effort getting your office to 'zen' mode only to let it all go to waste.

When I took out all the clutter in my space, I was appalled at the amount of junk that was caught in my carpet. Stapling pins, bits of shredded paper, coffee stains and some other weird stuff.

I had to take out the carpet and send it to the cleaners. Every month since, I have taken out a day to clean the carpet thoroughly. In your case, it might be a marble or wooden floor. Whatever the case, always make sure that the floor of your office is at its sparkling best.