In terms of the office and workspace, the essence of minimalism is encapsulated in the popular motto “less is more”. A minimalist workspace optimises space and freedom of movement while creating more effective organisation and storage at the same time. Practicality, organisation, neatness and the reduction of waste and clutter are all elements of a minimalist workspace.
A minimalist desk can increase productivity and efficiency at work, and a clear and decluttered space is good for the mood and the mind too.
10 steps towards a minimalist office
- Go paperless
The bulk of waste materials in a work environment consists of paper. Reducing the use of paper will not only help create a minimalist space but also help benefit the environment. With the prevalence of modern technology in the workplace, paper documents and hard copies can be stored digitally to reduce paper waste and storage.
- Have one inbox for paper
While the reduction of paper usage is beneficial, there is still a need for some remaining paper documents. For a minimalist desk, reduce all the incoming paper by delegating it to one single inbox. This keeps thing better organised and takes up less space.
- Identify the essential items on your desk
How many of the items on your desk right now are strictly necessary for your work? While it is so tempting to hoard multitudes of coloured pens, stationery and memorabilia, if you do not use it at least once a day for important tasks, it does not belong in a working environment. Collect or compile a list of the items you absolutely must have on your desk, and keep the list as short as possible. Things to include are usually a computer or laptop, phone, printer, and one small container for stationery.
- Get rid of the rest
Everything else on your desk should be removed. Personal items and memorabilia that aren’t needed on your desk can go home with you, while spare stationery can go to someone who needs them more, or into storage in the garage.
- Keep drawers and shelves organised
If you have drawers or shelves at your desk, you can store some of the additional items from your desk there, but make sure you aren’t just moving the excess from one surface to another. Keep your drawers as neat and uncluttered as your desk surface, and use your shelves for important books and files instead of decorations.
- Clean your desk
This step might seem odd, but after clearing the surface of your desk you might notice just how much dust and stains it has accumulated. Now is a perfect time to clean it, as well as adding a new layer of paint or varnish if it needs it.
- Clear your walls
Visible surfaces around your desk can be distracting. For a minimalist environment, avoid cluttered walls of photo frames, artwork, noticeboards and calendars. A single calendar or important board will catch the eye more easily and quickly declutter a busy wall. Additionally, avoid patterned or multi-coloured wallpaper and window dressings, opting for one or two complementing and modulated colours.
- Organise your digital workspace
In modern workspaces, the computer is used just as frequently as the desk. A cluttered computer desktop is as bad as a cluttered physical desk, and should be organised efficiently. Avoid superfluous folders and icons, and keep everything properly filed in relevant directories.
- Simplify your filing
Physical filing is also important for a minimalist office. Avoid stacks of paper and files lying around, and keep them organised neatly in a filing cabinet or shelf out of view.
- Use multifunctional devices
To avoid cluttering the desk with numerous devices and electronics like printers, scanners, fax machines and telephones, invest in a device that performs more than one of these functions. Disregard the telephone completely if you already use your cell phone for business, and purchase a multifunctional photocopier that performs scans, printing and faxing all in one.
Make minimalism work for you
Everyone has a different perception on what a minimalist space means, and different degrees of minimalism work for different folk. For many people, a completely bare and sterile workstation has no appeal or benefits, and as such will aim for a minimalist space but include a potted plant or photo frame, for example, to liven it up without any clutter. What you choose to do should align with your own preferences as well as the nature of your work, the space at your disposal and the constraints of your office facilities.