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How to Simplify Your Work Life

I’ve been reading a good book lately (don’t most thoughts start like that?), and I’ve realized that the ideas, tools, and routines given in the book can easily apply to the workplace.

The book? A Simplified Life by Emily Ley. The idea? Gaining tactical tools for intentional living, all for the purpose of simplifying the demands on your time, energy, and resources. And for unraveling the overwhelming feeling of complicated responsibilities, busy schedules, and endless clutter.

Doesn’t that sound nice? Let’s look at how we can declutter distractions, put tools in place, and establish routines that set us up for success in our jobs. And, be sure to pay attention for links to our FREE printable checklists to help you along the way!

Simplify Your Space

It’s easy to let papers stack up, and if you work in retail like us, products also accumulate on your desk. And with each item added, you have less room to do what you’re there to do: work. All the clutter gets in the way of your focus, efficiency, and overall productivity. So, get rid of it!

Click here for a printable checklist for simplifying your space.

The key with your desk area is starting with a clean slate, and only adding back what you need. In the list, we suggest putting only a few key items on your desk—only what will make you happy. Maybe it’s a family photo, an inspirational art print, or a beautiful perpetual calendar. Everything else can go in your desk drawers.

Another detail to keep in mind is this: you don’t need 100 different pens or five different colors of post-it notes (talking to myself here). Pick a few of your favorite pens, keep one of the post-it note pads, and toss the rest. Only keep the essentials.

Be sure to go through the checklist and simplify your space every couple months to keep your area better organized so you can work more efficiently.


Simplify Your Schedule

Sometimes your schedule gets away from you, and you start piling things on without realizing how chaotic you’re making your life. So, what can you do when you feel that strain?

  • Assign certain tasks to certain days of the week. This is especially effective if you have a job that has consistent responsibilities each week, but it can also apply to jobs that vary. Feel free to use our blank Weekly Schedule printable here and our blank To-Do List printable here for staying organized.
  • Move most of your meetings to one day, if possible. This will help you reduce wasted time from starting and stopping tasks multiple times a day to attend a meeting. Use our blank Meeting Notes printable here for taking detailed notes.
  • Take brain breaks. According to Hubspot, one short microbreak—a pause of 30 seconds to five minutes—improves mental sharpness by 13%. Plus, regular breaks of one and a half to two minutes can increase productivity by 6.45% to 11.15% respectively. It’s worth it.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no. Do you really have time to join that committee? Or help plan that event? Usually, it eats up more time than you think, and we’re sure they’ll survive without you.

Taking a hard look at your schedule and establishing a routine can make a measurable difference in your productivity and overall mental well-being.


Simplify Your Computer

Digital clutter is no joke. Just like clearing out physical clutter can improve your focus, so can clearing out digital clutter.

Click here for a printable checklist for simplifying the files on your computer.


Simplify Your Phone

Phones can easily become a HUGE work distraction. My philosophy is to use my phone only when necessary. So, instead of calling coworkers via work phone, I walk to their office to chat. However, I also know that phones are necessary for talking with outside clients, vendors, etc.

Cell phones have quickly become another work phone. It’s always on our person, so it makes us easily accessible 24/7. As we mentioned in our 4 Ways Technology Has Affected the Workforce blog post, working professionals should beware the “always on” mentality. With email linked up to our phones, sending notifications at all hours of the evening, it’s harder than ever for employees to shut off their work and truly engage in their extracurricular activities.

Click here for a printable checklist for simplifying both your desk phone and cell phone, including turning off unnecessary notifications so you can keep that work-life balance.


Simplify Your Email

If you’re anything like me, using Outlook is like speaking a different language. I know there are so many ways to stay organized, but I just can’t seem to master them . . .  and, as a result, my email inbox constantly overwhelms me.

Click here for a printable checklist for simplifying your email. This checklist will cover the basics, like unsubscribing (try Unroll.me), archiving, and setting up organized folders. If you’d like more in-depth resources on using email features more effectively, research free resources online for your specific email service, whether Outlook, Gmail, or another.


Other Ways to Simplify

A few honorable mentions are those categories that don’t fall within the workday but affect how you work. Such as:

Morning routine. Set yourself up for success by giving yourself more time in the morning. If you’re a morning person, this may not be an issue. But, if you’re anything like me, you sleep as long as you can and then frantically get through the morning and rush out the door. Which leads to feeling frazzled and chaotic once you get to work.

So . . .

  • Write a morning checklist and tape it to your fridge. Feel free to use our To-Do List printable here.
  • Program the coffee maker so it’s ready when you are.
  • Set out your clothes the night before.
  • Change up your routine. Is there a more effective way you could do something? Sometimes the smallest change can give you five more minutes in your morning.

Your car. So, you’ve rushed out the door in the morning, and you get in your car—what do you see? If you see clutter, it’s most likely getting in the way of your mental well-being and frame of mind for work.

So . . .

  • Take everything out of your car—glove box, console, front seat, back seat, and trunk. Grab a trash bag and throw away everything you don’t need. Put everything else in its proper place (for example: clothes go back in your closet).
  • Wipe down the dashboard, doors, etc.
  • Vacuum the floor and trunk.
  • Put back only the essentials.


Now, Breathe Easy

We hope these resources have helped you simplify your work life and routines! Be sure to check out our other RecogNation blog posts for thoughts, ideas, and expert tips on a variety of HR-related topics.

And, check out our in-depth programs and rewards that take the legwork off your plate to simplify your employee engagement. Request a FREE demo here, or call us at 888.919.7600 and ask to speak with one of our sales representatives.