Jeff Davidson's book, Simpler Living, was Amazon Kindle #1 in its category, first quarter, 2012. Jeff is featured in the NY Times, Forbes, Chicago Tribune, Businessweek, Fortune, Organized Executive, and Success.

Taking Control of Your Workspace

Let’s face it, your productive work life is finite. You will only be able to work for so many years at such and such a pace, and then one day that will end. When it comes to getting things done, taking control of your immediate environment works wonders. Coordinating the arrangement of the physical as well as psychic spaces in your career in an anticipatory, supportive manner helps propel you into getting things done.A few terms and concepts are worth introducing here. Practically speaking, much of getting things done comes down to how well you’re able to retrieve what you need, and much of that adds up to a single concept: filing.

Filing is a non-glamorous tool for getting and staying organized. Filing involves allocating information and materials into their best home, for now. What do you need to be a good filer? Clear objectives and the space to put a chair in front of a filing cabinet. If you fear that filing means you’re becoming a caretaker, remind yourself you are taking care of items or information that you deem to be important. If it isn’t important, don’t save it. If it is important, file it with gusto.

Conditioning your environment is a crucial step in organizing and filing effectively. This means that you arrange, stock, and maintain such spaces in a manner that supports your efforts. Organizing a desk drawer initially takes time and may be slow going. Thereafter, finding what you want in the desk drawer is simpler and faster. If you avoid organizing the drawer all together, always have things strewn about, and go on a “hunt” each time you need to find something, in little ways, you’re hampering your productivity potential rather than devising a system that will support you every time.

Managing the beforehand, as opposed to the aftermath, involves creating space—mentally or physically—in advance of what comes next.

Managing the Beforehand

With vacant space, you have now created a clearing for the things that you’ll be receiving. These include new policy memos, articles you want to save, meeting notes, and course information that you want to review at a later date. The items may be different for each person. The important point in an over-information society is to take control in advance—manage the beforehand—as opposed to dealing with the aftermath of too much information.

Managing the beforehand is a term coined by Jeff Davidson which means to prepare for something in advance of a need, such as to prepare your files in anticipation of new items that are coming. Rather than having files and cabinets filled to their brims with information, strip them of all excess materials so that you have some vacant space.

Once you develop the habit of clearing space in all the compartments of your life: your desk, your car, your closets, etc., you accomplish many things: you demonstrate to yourself that you do have enough space to manage your career and conduct your affairs, and you keep in a ready state to handle what is next rather than trying to figure out where to store things or how to create ad hoc piles.

Conditioning Your Office

Conditioning your work environment, coordinating the arrangement of physical spaces in your career in an anticipatory, supportive manner, works well on many levels. You can apply the principles to your entire office. Whether yours is a corporate or home office, you can discover how to gain greater balance. Obviously, you will have more leeway if you are self-employed, or the “boss,” but the principles work pretty much the same.

If you need them, room dividers and sound barriers are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and can improve upon any existing sound barriers. The gentle, rhythmic “white noise” of a small fan’s motor serves as a sound buffer to many of the sounds that may distract you. Maybe you want a couch for quick cat naps during the day. The quality and ambience of your work space works best when it demonstrates the quality and ambience of your life or how you would like your life to be.

Your other environments, including your car, briefcase, and remote work station each have a pronounced impact on how you get things done. To ensure that your home environment enhances your sense of balance, don’t allow ad hoc outposts to build up: take the trip receipts out of the folder right after the trip. Adopt supportive docking and unloading techniques. Always bring important paper items, such as mail, office work, tax receipts, warranties, and other purchased items to their final destinations– that is, bring them to your administrative outpost for processing and integration into your organization system.

The more you are able to keep flat surfaces clear—your desk, tables, shelves—the greater your ability to manage the flow of items in your career, deal with them capably, and move forward. You experience a sense of balance.

For example, the London subway system was experiencing a growing problem of unwanted vandals and thieves in their tunnels. So a plan was devised to play classical music and opera, such as Vivaldi, Mozart, and Pavarotti in the effort to make unwelcome visitors uncomfortable with the subway environment.

Studies have shown that this type of music is unfamiliar and unacceptable to the thugs who hang out in the subway. Making them miserable with music they don’t enjoy will drive them away. By making the subway tunnels and stations a caustic environment to the nature of thieves and vandals, the vandalism and thievery was greatly decreased.

Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®," is a preeminent time management authority, has written 65 mainstream books, and is an electrifying professional speaker, making 886 presentations to clients such as Lockheed Martin, Eckerd, Kaiser Permanente, IBM, American Express, Lufthansa, Swissotel, Re/Max, USAA, Worthington Steel, and the World Bank. Jeff is Executive Director of the Breathing Space Institute and the author of books such as:
  • Simpler Living (Skyhorse Publishing)
  • Dial It Down--Live it Up (Sourcebooks)
  • The 60 Second Innovator (Adams Media)
  • Breathing Space (CreateSpace)
  • Accomplishing Your Goals (Smart Guide Publications)
Jeff is the premier thought leader on work-life balance issues and has been widely quoted in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, USA Today, Businessweek, Forbes, and Fortune. Cited by Sharing Ideas Magazine as a "Consummate Speaker," Jeff believes that career professionals today in all industries have a responsibility to achieve their own sense of work-life balance, and he supports that quest through his website

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