Many of us have been handling business mostly remotely for over a year now. After all that, chances are, your virtual workspace could probably use a little TLC. Regardless of if you have dark little corners of your virtual office that are slowly collecting clutter, or the mess is starting you right in the face, we’ve gotcha covered. We’re breaking down a few easy ways to freshen up your virtual workspace so you can rid yourself of the virtual clutter and get back to work. And, for this kind of cleaning, you won’t even need to bust out the Lysol.

Clean out the visual clutter.

Let’s start with a quick and easy way to reduce the distractions. First, take inventory of your task bar and your desktop. Make sure that you have shortcuts for the programs that you use most frequently, and clear out the ones that you don’t. It’s a no-brainer, but helps eliminate all the times you click into the search bar and think, “what was I looking for again?”

Get rid of unnecessary junk.

Now, let’s dive into Outlook.

There are a few folders in our inboxes that we rarely go sifting through: our “spam” and our “deleted items”. Because we’re not accustomed to checking in on it, it’s really easy for things to get piled up in these folders, and that can reduce the performance of your email platform. If these messages aren’t important or you’re done with them, get rid of ‘em!

Similarly, Outlook categorizes emails into your “focused” and “other” folders to help you parse through your inbox and see what you need to get your job done. Take a few minutes to sort through your “other” folder and see if there’s anything you can get rid of. If there are any serial senders who aren’t delivering value to you, unsubscribe. While you’re in your “not-focused” folder, keep an eye out for anything that really is important and might have been miscategorized. If you find anything, just right-click to change your preferences for that sender going forward.

While it seems like a tall order, there are several ways to bulk-delete emails in Outlook, so it’ll go pretty quickly. And, by clearing them all out at once, you’re reducing the probability that you’ll accidentally click on a phony link that’s lurking around.

Finally, set some rules and boundaries.

Now that your inbox is squeaky-clean and free of frightening amounts of unread emails, take a few minutes to set some boundaries to keep it that way. You can set up rules in your inbox that tell Outlook exactly what to with certain messages based on set criteria. For example, you can set emails to automatically be forwarded to certain folders or even to others in your company based on who the message came from, or specific language in the subject. Especially if you deal with a lot of similar types of emails, this helps keep things organized and prevent you from getting distracted by constant notifications. You know what they say – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Although it’s can seem indidating to tackle the virtual clutter, taking the time to purge what you don’t need or use is so worthwhile. When you’re not constantly inundated with junk, you’ll be surprised with how much more bandwidth you’ll have to focus on what really matters.