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Students are busy arriving to pristine classroom environments, while teachers are wiping the sweat from their brows. When the bell rings on the first day of school and class finally begins, the students seldom have any idea about the level of preparation their teachers have put in. They’ve spent all summer setting the stage for learning. While you don’t have all summer for a complete office makeover, there are many things you can do this month to remove distractions and optimize workflow. In this article we will look at a few ways you can declutter your workspace in a similar fashion.

We live in a plugged-in, on-call society, and we are often only a click or a swipe away from gaining access to any information we desire. While this is a huge advantage in job performance, it can also present some roadblocks. Keeping a clean work area is one way to contest the constant battle for your attention. Start by removing any trash like food wrappers and empty drink containers have no place in your work area. Not only are they unsightly, but they can pose a risk to your computer or other electronic equipment. Next, make some hard decisions about what remains. Ask yourself if each item on your desk serves a specific purpose throughout your work day. If it doesn’t, find a new home for it. Finally, keep personal mementos but keep them to a minimum. A single photography of your family or a loved one is a great idea and will keep you motivated and remind you who you are working so hard for.

Our physical workspace isn’t the only area that needs our attention when attempting to limit distractions and increase performance. There is also our “virtual” desktop that we need to consider. In the same way you approached your physical desktop, clean out any unused files from your hard drive. Next, divide your screen into sections. Keep one corner for web browsers, one for company applications, and another one for important file folders. Finally, check your monitor settings. Make sure everything is set to an optimal level to help increase productivity when you are logged in and typing away.

Our own minds are another work area that can be filled with distractions, becoming clouded with unneeded worry and anxiety. It’s important to have strategies in place to help deal with these mental roadblocks. Next time you find it to be a particularly stressful day, learn about a calming meditation or a relaxing breathing technique. Take a few minutes in your office chair to clear your mind before you tackle those major projects or meetings. For an easy into into this Check out a great website called calm.com. Next, get a whiteboard. Not only are they eco-friendlier, but being able to quickly scribble your ideas will help keep your mind moving in a positive direction. Finally, the voice recording app on your smartphone can be a lifesaver on those drives home when you have a brainstorm or want to generate a quick memo. In this world it’s easy to forget about making space in your mind, but remember an employee whose mind is clear and working efficiently is of the highest value to any employer.

By making some of these easy changes to your work area and work flow, you’ll be on the path towards a more efficient workday. Not only will your productivity improve but your stress level may decrease as well. The best part about these changes is anyone can make them. It doesn’t cost anything and you don’t need to need a book to learn about them. Take the time and institute some of these changes today. You’ll find the newly found space will help foster positive career growth.