Our work spaces say something about us. Mine has always been important to me, and there have always been some similarities in what I choose to create with my office spaces. Since I started drafting (like with pencils and rulers) at the age of 14, the neatness of my work space has been tantamount to my level of comfort and my ability to focus. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have a lot of ‘stuff’ around my desk, quite the contrary in fact, but I do have way of organizing myself at my desk. My little purple stapler, that I have had for easily a decade, is always in the same place. My watch, which I take off when I sit down, and my wallet, which I take out of my pocket, always go in the same places. I have Visine at my desk. I have Chapstick. I have a large glass of water, my notebook and fresh pens.

If you have trouble concentrating on one thing, as I often do, it can be helpful to create an organized and dependable place to be when you do your work. For me – I need to have all the tools of my trade within easy reach, and I need to have as few distractions as possible cluttering my line of sight. For you, it may be different.

David Allen – in his incredible book “Getting Things Done” talks about clearing your ‘inbox’ (and EVERYTHING is you inbox). Part of my inbox is my work space. If you just can’t seem to stay focused. Try this:

  • Grab 2 boxes or paper bags – one for keeping, one for recycling
  • Grab a paper towel and your favorite environmentally friendly cleaner
  • Grab your Ipod

Take 20 minutes to clear your desk. Don’t READ everything you clear … simply make a very fast determination. If you know it’s recycling, then toss it. If you need to look at it again, separate it. Totally clear the surface of your work space. Wipe down all the surfaces, dust off your keyboard, clean your monitor. Now place the tools of your trade back on your desk in the way that feels right to you.

And last – MOST IMPORTANT – commit to a time when you will empty the container you just made of things you need to look at again. Get set up to sort and file the things in that pile and begin creating your ideal work space. Hey, it works for me.