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Quick Tips to Simplify Your Workspace

Teachers are notorious for keeping resources for years. I think there are two reasons behind this;

  1. Often blood, sweat and tears went into making them. I went through Teacher's College in the 90's and we made every resource by hand.

  2. We think we may use them again one day.

Four years ago when I needed to de-clutter my teaching resources I called on a friend who didn't have any emotional attachment to them like I did, to help me cull.

I went through eight boxes of resources at work, standing by the skip, and ended up with just one box, full of my most loved items. I brought the box home and to be honest I haven't opened it up since. I've never needed anything from the boxes of stuff I threw out, in four years.

When thinking about de-cluttering or simplifying your workspace, it can seem overwhelming.

It's easy to get stuck on getting rid of stuff. Often we say it's because we don't have the time.

The solution to this mental hurdle is to take mini steps. Start easy and build up. Allocate 10 minutes to work your way through a box, a file or something as simple as a drawer.

Do it often and keep the time frame manageable.

Once completed, step back and admire your efforts, it will propel you to give another space a go.

Below are some tips on how to simplify work place areas and items.


When going through resources the best question to ask yourself is:

Have I used this in the last two years?

If you haven't, chances are you won't in the next two years either.

Most resources can be accessed online, giving you all the more reason to part with them.

Limit yourself to fill just one box of your absolute favourite ones.


Be sure to cull your cupboards at least once a year.

Some questions to ask yourself are; Do I need this? Is it up to date? Is it online now? When did I last read this? When did I last use this?


We all accumulate stationery items at work such as pens, highlighters, paperclips etc.

Do you really need 20 pens?

Keep just a few of your favourite pens, felts and highlighters. Be sure to throw out any that don't work.

Keep multiple items such as staples, paperclips, rubber bands, drawing pins etc. in their own separate small containers.


Paper piles up very quickly, usually because we tend to put it to the side of our desk or a shelf for a quick retrieval. The problem is that the pile can become overwhelmingly high and it's no longer a quick process to find that piece of paper.

To simplify paper piles I put most pieces of paper into a folder and then I label that folder.

Keep the folders upright on your desk - don't let them pile up. This is the one I use and highly recommend.

Alternatively I have one folder with half a dozen compartments within it, and I slip anything I'm working on, in the immediate week, inside one of the slots.

I carry that 'working' folder in my bag all week along with my diary.

Try and cull the folder once a fortnight.


Just like paper, every email needs a home.

Set up folders in your inbox. Once you've read an email, either file it, add it to your 'to do' list or action it, if it's a task that takes 3 minutes or less. For example, a quick reply to someone that doesn't require significant work.

Remember that emails are someone else's agenda, not yours. You decide when to respond.

Often we save documents and files on our desktops for immediate retrieval. Just be sure to move them to a folder at the end of the week.

Try and allocate 10 minutes every Friday to sort out files and documents on your desktop.

Articles or Readings

I am guilty of keeping a ton of readings.

I'm still a little old fashioned and like a hard copy, especially if it's for a group reading and we're going to be discussing it. I like the process of physically highlighting important points.

With good articles I either tear the article out of the magazine and place it in a 'professional readings' folder or if it's come to me digitally I save it in one of my inbox folders, named Readings.

I go through the physical folder once every 3-4 months and cull.

If I haven't read it or shared it, I ask myself 'Why not?'

Your Work Desk

Try and keep your work desk as clear as possible.

Anything on it can act as a distraction.

A good habit to get into is to clear your desk as much as you can at the end of each work day. When you arrive in the morning, there is clear space to begin work.

You'll feel so much more organised once you make a start.

Remember action builds momentum!

Start small and take that first mini step!

#simplify #workspace #declutter #leadsmartwithheart

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