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Clear your workspace to focus your mind.

| JAN 27, 2017

Disorganised paperwork and the lack of a good filing system means your home becomes a place not only for piles to spread like a disease, but for your mind to see a constant physical to-do list all around you.  Your workspace, whether it’s home or business paperwork, can often be the cause of your lack of productivity, your frequent procrastinating and your fidgety work style.  It’s not easy to work in a space that distracts the mind no matter where you look.

It’s often assumed that the most organised systems are the complicated ones.  This is far from true. 

Be warned though – studies have shown that sparse minimalism can also have a  negative impact on the working mind. Lack of stimulation in an empty white room with no sign of creativity can have a similar effect. So the key words here are balance and control.

How can you relax in your space when there are reminders of what you haven’t done blocking your mind and thinking?

Getting your paperwork organised

bare biology health better in 30 clear your workspace to focus your mind by vicky silverthorn

My clients are often surprised by the paperwork system I implement.  Why? Because it’s so simple even your toddler could start filing once it’s set up.

I first implemented this system for myself when I started working from home on a job role I started in 2001.  Since starting my business in 2010 I have put it into hundreds of homes, all with positive feedback.

It’s often assumed that the most organised systems are the complicated ones.  This is far from true and if you want to get to the root of disorder and chaos, clear your workspace and paperwork – it’s an extremely good place to start. 

Buy a Bisley Cabinet

These come in five, ten or fifteen drawer cabinets.

We often use the ten drawer option (sometimes two of them) for household and business paperwork depending on how much you have.

The idea is that you simply post (file) your paperwork away. You simplify categories and you split important documents up with clear plastic files labeled neatly. 

Clients sometimes like to buy the 5 drawer ones for their children’s paperwork (school, medical, clubs etc.). 

The ten drawer size fits well next to, or possibly under, standard sized desks and they have a great range of colours available to suit the style of your home. They are a compact system in comparison to many bulky filing cabinets out there. 

How to make a start

bare biology health better in 30 clear your workspace to focus your mind by vicky silverthorn

  1. Write a list of important categories to file your paper work.
  2. Create labels with each category.
  3. Lay the labels out in a row.
  4. Work through your files systematically placing each paper under the relevant category. All bills can go in one drawer, then car paperwork and health/medical etc.
  5. Recycle your unwanted paper, but be sure to shred any sensitive information.
  6. You might want to organise each category further with subcategories. Once all the files have been placed in their right categories you can repeat steps one to four with each pile, focusing on their subcategories.
  7. Place the files into a filing cabinet, with each category occupying its own draw. Stick the label on each draw.
  8. Use sub-dividers or plastic pockets to break up the subcategories, with clear labels too.

The action tray

Any time ANY piece of paperwork enters your home it will now have only two choices as to where it heads.

  1. It gets posted in the drawers.
  2. If you need to do something, it goes straight in your action tray.


Spend five minutes at the end of every day clearing and organizing your workspace, so when you return in the morning you have a fresh start every single time.

Doing the #betterin30 challenge? Use the hashtag to tell us how you’re getting on, and you could win a personal session with one of our experts!


Vicky Silverthorn is your Better in 30 Professional Organiser.  Vicky will declutter your home and your mind so you can stick to your New Year’s resolutions.  Vicky is the author of ‘Start with your Sock Drawer’ and Founder of You Need a Vicky, a professional organisation company.  She’s helped to streamline the homes of A-list clients from Suki Waterhouse, Ayda and Robbie Williams to Jamie Dornan and Jonathan Ross.  Now she’s here to help you.

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