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creating a joyful workspace

Last month we talked about organization and how to go through your workspace to make it work better for you. This month we are going to build on this topic. Last time, when you decluttered your workspace, you probably cleared out the most obvious and easier items to let go of. There were likely items that you were not ready to let go of or that you put to the side to deal with later. We're going to address these items as well as others this week.


Decluttering can be a challenge because you are unsure of what to let go of. I find that you need to give yourself permission to let go. Let go of the idea that you spent perfectly good money on an item - even though you haven't used it in YEARS. Let go of the idea that everyone on Pinterest has their workspace set up that way so you have to create a Pinterest perfect workspace. Let go of the idea that what works for your friends will work for you.


When you think about decluttering, often the reason you have reached that point is because you have been overconsuming. In order to stop the behavior, you need to be honest with yourself and face the reasons you are allowing the clutter to build up around you. Ask yourself if the workspace you have created is bringing you joy, saving time, peace, a place to be creative and prioritize your objectives. If they answer is no, what would it take to achieve it?


Consider what in your workspace is working for you and and what is not. How can you adapt your workspace to make it simplier and a more peaceful environment?


For me, decluttering was an exercise in NOT shopping. Not buying more storage containers. Not buying new pretty stuff. Instead, it was an exercise in deciding what do to do without. An exercise in making piles:

  1. Things I need and use

  2. Things I don't need and don't use

  3. Things I feel like I have to keep or I'm not ready to let go of

  4. Things I have a sentimental attachment to

I had bags and boxes ready for the items to go into.


#1 Things I need and use

The #1 items were going to find a home in my cleaned up workspace. I made a pile for them and when I was ready to put things away, I went through them. In my case, my office has multiple functions. I use it for girl scouts, crafting, sewing, and work. Like items were stored together. I have one of those IKEA Kallax bookshelves. I bought it SECOND HAND! Yes, garage sales are your friend. I've put a picture above (I added the labels to the picture so you could get an idea of what I store in my cabinet). I have been a Thirty-One Consultant for nearly 5 years now, so I have a space for those items also.


#2 Things I don't need and don't use

It was relatively straightforward to manage this pile. I put them in a bag or box to donate or throw away. Trash was thrown away immediately. The donate pile was stacked up to be taken out to the local Cornerstone. If the items you are donating are too large to place in your car, you can call for a pick up from your local charity.


#3 Things I feel like I have to keep or I'm not ready to let go of

You've probably already sorted these items out from the last clean out. When you went through them, you were probably on the fence about whether or not to say goodbye to them. The reason might be the original cost of the items, the fact that you were caught without the item once before or a host of others. The reality is though, unless you are using the item regularly or it is important to your workspace, you likely do not need it.


My children an I play a Love it or List it game we made up. We compare two like items or things we put similar importance on and ask ourselves which one we will choose to Love (keep) or List (donate). It takes the pressure off and makes the experience fun. Once you get started, you may find that you are Listing more items than expected.


#4 Things I have a sentimental attachment to

This will likely be the most difficult group of items to sort through. We all have items that have a sentimental attachment to. You will notice that in my bookshelf, I have one box dedicated to memories. The items in this box include pictures, childhood items and career momentos. They are important to me and so I keep them. However, when I started cleaning out my office space, there were boxes and shelves full of items. I went through them and chose the items of highest emotional significance to me. I donated some of the other items and disposed of the rest. There were more papers and files than I could believe. When I went through them, I had a moment of sentimentality, and then I was able to let them go. If you've every read or watched Marie Kondo, she talks about letting go of these types of items and giving yourself the time to appreciate what value they brought you at that point in your life.


Once I had gone through all the items, I rearranged the furniture into a different configuration that gave me greater joy and created separate spaces for work and hobbies. I did end up changing out some of my furniture items because I had a variety of odds and ends furniture that were limiting my space and making it a less joyful environment. The end result was fewer pieces of furniture with much greater functionality.


You will be able to determine what will work best for you once you have gone through your own workspace environment.

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Christy Zuehl

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EDIT Learning & Design, LLC

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