If you’ve vowed to be more productive this year and find your work flow, one way to accomplish this goal is to invest a little time in keeping your work station tidy. When you have a distraction-free workspace, you’ll be better able to direct your attention to what really matters. Because clutter “bombards our minds with excessive stimuli,” our senses have to work extra hard to process the excessive stimuli and then mentally set it aside. Clearing clutter helps free the senses to either rest or process the stimuli we actually need in our work lives, meaning our energy is put to better use.
Declutter your workspace for increased productivity and a happier work experience.
Step 1: Clean up and organize your area in one fell swoop. Tidiness guru Marie Kondo of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up advises that you do one major cleaning sesh in order to avoid “clutter relapse.” When it comes to your workspace, discard or store elsewhere anything that hampers your productivity—irrelevant documents, knickknacks that no longer thrill you, and paper clutter that should be safely filed away. You can find some desk-specific organization tips in my post on creating a home office space. Don’t forget about digital clutter, too! Clean up your desktop while you’re at it.
Step 2: Develop a plan to deal with mental clutter using a method that’s effective for you. There are a few kinds of mental clutter.
One is a rush of ideas for activities you’d like to do once you’re done with your current task (these ideas may relate to work or leisure time). This is a more positive kind of mental clutter that can be useful when channeled appropriately. I find it helpful to keep track of these ideas in my planner or on a computer document designated for this type of thing. A voice memo works, too. The point is to record these ideas so you feel better about setting them aside for the moment. In recording them, you’re acknowledging their importance to you while also “storing” them so they’re not getting in the way of your current work.
The other type of clutter involves unwelcome, irrelevant, or counterproductive ideas—these may include a random comment you heard on the news, a frustrating conversation you had earlier in the day, or even less discrete things (like a stressful morning commute that’s left your feeling scattered). You may find it helpful to journal about these things for a few minutes. While journalling may help some people process and move on from mental clutter, for others, journalling about the subjects of their mental clutter can drain emotional energy. If that’s the case, a few moments of mindfulness meditation, listening to soothing music, or even inhaling a refreshing scent can make a big difference. I enjoy this meditation essential oil blend that doubles as a natural antidepressant.
Step 3: Keep your most important tools in an accessible place. For me, I tend to reference several books when I’m brainstorming or composing an article. These books on nutrition, wellness, green beauty, and yoga have a special home on my desk, so I can whip them out as soon as I have a burning question (not that I don’t love Google). Tools that I need only occasionally are stored in places that are more “out of the way,” so I don’t have to rummage through them every day to get to what I really need.
Step 4: Place something inspiring in an easy-to-view location. Perhaps you have a collection of photos that take you to a happy and relaxed place—or maybe you’re inspired by jotting down and displaying your current goals. Set aside any uninspiring decor that merely takes up space (these things are included in the list of things that overstimulate the mind, so we don’t need them!). Making room for your favorite pieces—be they quotes, a mountain view, or a pretty candle—will serve as a reminder that your workspace is designed to enhance your work experience.
Step 5 (Ongoing): Once you’ve done your one-time major cleaning/organizing, spend a few moments each day putting your materials away in their designated spaces, so each morning (or whenever you go to work!), you’re greeted with an orderly work space that allows you to dive right into your tasks.
This daily step can turn into an important ritual that helps you signal to your mind that you’re done for the day.
Do you have any fun tips for increasing productivity?
Photo: Bench Accounting via Unsplash