minimalism in the workplace


We, as humans, have the desire to know more, do more and experience as many things as possible. But research has shown that embracing minimalism in the workplace actually makes us more productive. Our standard practice of trying to get our hands on as many things as possible at the same time leads to cluttering. And when we are in a cluttered environment, the brain must multitask and overwork since the chaos is distracting and prevents in order to try and process all the information coming from the distracting chaos.

Clutter vs Minimalism

Princeton University did a study on the effects of clutter in our homes and work environment. The researchers mapped and compared the brain’s responses and task performance when interacting with organized and disorganized stimuli. They found that the individuals who managed to remove unnecessary stimuli and clutter from their homes or workspaces had significantly higher levels of productivity, were able to process information faster, and pay more attention to detail. Thus, improve focus and increase efficiency. You can read the finding of the research in the report Interactions of Top-Down and Bottom-Up Mechanisms in Human Visual Cortex.

One way to declutter our environment and avoid multi-tasking is by embracing the main concept of minimalism – promoting and prioritizing the things we value the most and the removal of any distractions. Consequently, anything we don’t use or love can be considered clutter. Thus, removed. This philosophy can be applied to all aspects of life. How we choose and decorate our homes and workspaces. The clothes we wear. Items we buy. This minimalist approach to life allows us to focus on the things the matter the most and live a better life.

Minimalism in the Workplace

By implementing minimalism at the workplace, you get to create a simpler environment where you can be more productive. Meaning, you need to remove any distractions, avoid multitasking and concentrate on the task you have. Consequently, you will become more focused and more efficient.

One of the easiest ways to reap the benefits of minimalist productivity is to implement it using the right tools and methods. These tools and methods should be in line with the main concepts of minimalism – minimizing or removing clutter and helping you maintain focus only on the most important stuff. One such method is Kanban. Using an online Kanban software can be the solution for moving from a chaotic to a clean and neat workflow.

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Remove Physical Waste

To achieve minimalist at the workplace, first you need to get rid of all the clutter in your immediate surroundings. If it’s not essential to your daily work, you should throw it away or store it in a drawer. You also need to be selective about the items you bring into work. Each item requires your time – to maintain it, store it, clean it, and eventually, discard it. Even using your smartphone and checking social media takes away your focus form what you need to accomplish.

embrace minimalism in the workplace

Visualize, Prioritize and Stay Focused

Now that you have a clean desk, it’s time to put order in your work. Set up a Kanban board and visualize the whole project that lies ahead. Order tasks by priority. Remove any repeating or unnecessary tasks and steps to make the process as simple as possible. This will help you keep tasks organized and help you focus on one item at a time. Anything that’s not related to the task at hand can be put to the side. Using Kanban’s WIP limits is another way of maintaining minimalism. By deciding to have only 2 or 3 tasks in progress at any given time, you are decluttering. Since there’ll be less pressure, you are more likely to do the work faster and better. But once you complete a task, don’t forget to take time to deliver the work, move the card, and put everything unnecessary away.

Organize Documentation and Communication

Each project creates its own files and documents. And the lack of a system that helps you store and reference your docs, translates into spending extra time looking instead of working. Which gets even worse if you are working in a team. Constant communication and flow of information are key for successful project completion. So setting up a digital Kanban board can solve this problem too. Most Kanban software tools allow you to attach files and documents directly to the cards. That way, anyone can access any info they might need. Thus, save time on unnecessary meetings, emails or on phone calls.

Minimize Distractions = Maximize Results

One thing is certain, implementing minimalism in the workplace by removing as many distractions as possible improves your focus. When you don’t feel the need to multitask, you can complete your tasks and assignments more efficiently, better and even faster. And even though you can’t always control the whole environment, you can at least declutter your own workspace and do more.

Our advice is to use a Kanban tool, such as Kanban Zone, to implement the minimalist approach since it’s easy to use and doesn’t require making any changes to your process. Instead, it will help you map and visualize your work, work at an optimal pace and stay focused on one task at a time. But more importantly, remove distractions, minimize waste and continuously improve your flow.

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Once you start visualizing your work in Kanban Zone, you will be surprised how much faster it gets done!

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About the Author: Ivana Sarandeska

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Ivana Sarandeska is a digital marketer, creative writer and master procrastinator. An Agile enthusiast and a firm believer that thorough planning is key to good execution and even better improvisation. She has a soft spot for technology, so most of her full-time jobs were in IT companies where she was introduced to Agile and Scrum. After she got her Scrum Basics certification she started actively using these methodologies and their main principles. Learning how to organize her time and tasks better has motivated her to dive deeper into these methodologies. Now, she is an avid advocate of Agile and Scrum and happily shares her knowledge and experience to fellow procrastinators.