Clutter is defined as “a crowded or confused mass or collection.” The same dictionary also defines it as things that clutter a space and cause disturbance.
If allowed, clutter can be one of the biggest obstacles to your level of productivity. Take a look around you. Is clutter standing in the way of you doing your best work?
There are different types of clutter: there’s mental clutter; physical clutter, which includes your home and workspace; and there’s emotional clutter.
When your environment is filled with clutter, it can change your emotions, as well as your energy level. This is because you may find that you’re reacting rather than responding. You may feel a general sense of unease or anxiety and mental exhaustion. Rather than flowing smoothly, everything feels like an uphill battle.
As I write this article, countries around the world are affected by Corona Virus-COVID-19. Many businesses are closed and employees have been laid off. Some employees are working remotely, that is, from home. Added to that, schools, colleges, and universities are closed and all class work is being done online from home. This has created a dynamic that many families are not accustomed to.
“For those of you who have been spending much more time with your partner or spouse than you have since… well since you first started dating… your struggle can seem just as ominous. Although you may not be dealing with the stress of work, there may be an overwhelming urge to take a break from everyone or even seek a little privacy. Add to that the addition of children or other family members and it’s a recipe for an emotional explosion.” (Italics mine).
The change in lifestyle can create a disturbance for those who work from home, whether you’re an entrepreneur or you’re working remotely for your organization.
How can you maintain or increase productivity in spite of a change in your living arrangements and lifestyle in general at this time? What impact is clutter having on your productivity? The following 5 tips to clear clutter in your workspace can be used at any time to improve productivity, regardless of how many people share your home and workspace. It takes decisive action.
You may recognize that you’re not as productive as you could be, and you could be blaming that on the fact that you have to help your children or grandchildren with their school work. You could come up with any number of reasons…but answer the following questions for yourself?
- Is it difficult to find a file on your hard drive or in the cloud because you do not organize your files effectively?
- Are you constantly searching for client files, company files, notes, or even something to write with?
- Are there stacks of books, papers, or even coffee cups or dishes sitting on your desk?
- Are your file drawers crammed with paperwork that you no longer need and which should really be in the trash can?
If you answered, Yes, to any of the above, I invite you to review the following:
Tips to Clear Clutter in Your Work Space
Before you begin, take the time to do an honest self-evaluation. Make the decision. Take action. Although I will refer to ‘your office’ the same would apply to anywhere you use as your office space.
Tip #1: Put away everything that belongs in your desk drawers or file cabinet. You should promptly remove anything that does not belong in your office. Can’t decide where to put something? Place it in a box with a lid and place it out of sight. Bonus tip: Discard anything you haven’t used in the past year. You probably don’t need them and may never use them again.
Tip #2: Clear everything from the top of your desk and wipe it down. Prior to placing things back on top of your desk, evaluate each item to make sure you actually need it front and center. If not, then put it away or throw it away. Reduce visual distractions as much as possible. Bonus tip: Wipe down your desk phone and/or smartphone. They’re a haven for germs.
Tip #3: Gather all your Post-It notes and scraps of paper. Review them and discard what you can. If any tasks can be handled quickly, schedule a time in your planner and get them done during a focused work session (time block). For the remainder, type them into a digital document for safekeeping. Bonus tip: If they include items you need to reference, keep the one-page document easily accessible on your desktop or stored in a top desk drawer.
Tip #4: If you have boxes or stacks of items on your office floor, go through them and discard everything you can. Again, if you have not used something in the past year, discard it or give it away. Discarding is the better choice so that it can be recycled. Bonus tip: Go through your bookcase and get rid of any books you also own digitally. Box up any others that are outdated and either give them to the library or recycle them.
Tip #5 Technology produces its own brand of clutter. Close down any tabs that you have open on your computer except for those that apply to your current work. Log out of social media accounts, as well as your email. Make a habit of working with minimal tabs open on your desktop. Bonus tip: Turn off any gadgets except the ones you need to do your core work tasks. You’ll get more done faster and easier without added distractions.
By implementing these simple tips, you’ll begin to clear the clutter in your workspace and reduce distraction while you improve productivity. The result of taking action to clear clutter from your workspace is that you’ll be more energized, less anxious, and more focused on your work. Investing a little bit of time today to prepare your work environment will make a noticeable difference in your productivity!
Need an additional productivity boost? Register to gain access to my free webinar, “15 Ways to Supercharge Your Productivity and Get More Done in Less Time.”