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Value of a clean digital desktop

If you are currently in your primary workspace, take a look around. What do you see? Do you have a simple and clean work environment? Or are there a bunch of distractions (papers, books, pens, cables, etc.) cluttering up your space?

It’s no secret that a simple and organized work environment is conducive to productivity. You'll be more productive on your primary task with fewer things vying for your attention. Explore Feng shui for much more on this.

Now take a look at your digital desktop. What do you see? Does it match your simple physical work environment? Or is it a clutter of shortcuts, folders, and quick launch icons?

It’s interesting how we spend time optimizing our physical space, but forget about our digital space. I was guilty of this. I have a very simple desk environment, but my desktop was filled with folders and things to click on.

Here is my before image (I have two monitors, hence the two background images):

All of these “extras” are distractions. They give you something to click on to escape your primary task the moment it gets hard.

For example say you are writing a paper for school. You reach a point where you are not sure what to write next. So you click on the Chrome icon on your desktop and before you realize it you've escaped to Facebook.

After falling into this trap I decided to make a change. I was inspired by Leo Babauta’s video: How I Work. Look at his desktop. No icons. No folders. No distractions.

Here is my desktop now (I removed all icons and set the taskbar to auto-hide):

And here is my desktop while writing this post:

Medium is on full screen (hit F11 on chrome). I can now focus solely on writing this post. And when I get the urge to pull away (often when I'm not sure what to write next), I don't have an escape icon to click on.

It’s a small change, but it can have a significant up side. Give it a try!

(Originally posted on Medium December 6, 2014)