Last week we talked about time being one of your most valuable resources and how to find your focused time. In the spirit of being time efficient, I’ll try to sum up this week’s topic in as few words as possible. Get. Organized. Of course, getting organized is a bit more complicated, but you can start there. Getting organized, both in the office and at home, can have a tremendous impact on your overall productivity.

Clutter in the home can tank your productivity at work, and here’s how: Clutter causes stress.  If you’re stressed before you even get to the office, surely it will be tough to focus. Clutter slows you down. Running late because you couldn’t find your keys…wallet…phone…lucky socks? Whatever it may be, getting out the door on time and stress free will help you start your workday on the right track.

Week 5: Get Organized

Purging excess in your home and your office is a big part of getting organized for optimal productivity, but organization also applies to other less tangible concepts, like mental chaos and overcrowded schedules. Here’s a snapshot of three types of clutter that are burdening your productivity and how to conquer them.

Physical Clutter

Physical clutter is the most tangible and recognizable type of clutter. Most people experience some form of physical clutter on a daily basis. There are many levels of physical clutter ranging from that perpetual stack of files on your desk to full-fledged hoarding. Regardless of how extreme your physical clutter is, the following characteristics apply:

  • You can see it and touch it, which means it takes up space.
  • It involves items that don’t have a designated place in the home or office.
  • It’s bothersome! It’s creating stress and negatively impacting your productivity.

How to Defeat Physical Clutter

Coming up with a manageable and sustainable plan is the heart of decluttering.  These three tips will get you started on the path to living an organized life:

  1. Sort. Discard. Repeat. This is admittedly not most people’s activity of choice, but the results are well worth it. Start by discarding items that no longer serve a purpose, like old magazines, newspapers and outdated files. Of the remaining items, the ones that impact your daily work should be immediately accessible, and the rest should have a designated home.
  2. Consider Going Paperless. If you’re not already on the bandwagon, it’s time to join. Three advantages of going paperless are saving the environment, cutting costs on paper and printing and avoiding the organizational nightmare of tattered, faded and misplaced manilla folders.
  3. Get Help. Getting organized does not come with a one-size-fits-all plan. A Productivity Consultant can be a big help in finding the plan that works for you and your business.

Mental and Emotional Clutter

Clutter of the mind is a bit harder to define because you can’t see or touch it. You can’t simply put it into a bin, lock the lid and move on with your life. Mental clutter is stress, anxiety, fear, memories and all of the those thoughts that keep you up at night. Emotional clutter is the subsequent emotions resulting from the mental clutter. These emotions are complex and can have very serious impacts on your mental health and overall wellness. If you find you suffer from one or more of these characteristics, you could be dealing with a case of mental and emotional clutter:

  • You feel stressed or anxious more often than not.
  • You feel out of control.
  • Your sleep is regularly interrupted by your thoughts.
  • Your productivity is affected, and your work is suffering the consequences.

How to Defeat Mental and Emotional Clutter

Taking the time and finding the resources to care for your mental health in the same way you care for physical ailments is an essential part of overall wellness. Keep these things in mind when facing mental or emotional clutter.

  1. Know that there is help. Counselors, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists are there to help you through long-term and short-term emotional and mental health issues. There is no shame in taking advantages of these resources. Regardless of the severity of your brain clutter, occasional therapy or professional coaching sessions can greatly impact your state of mind. The results are better performance on the job and a greater sense of satisfaction throughout the other aspects of your life.
  2. Experiment with self care options. Taking a yoga or meditation class can greatly reduce stress and anxiety. Getting some fresh air, spending some time in nature or taking a day to pamper yourself might be just what you need to calm your emotional clutter.
  3. Simplify whenever and wherever you can. Getting rid of excess doesn’t just apply to physical objects. Dissatisfaction with your job, unhealthy relationships and overcrowded schedules can all lead to stress and anxiety and other negative emotions. Changing these parts of your life won’t happen overnight. Taking small steps everyday will ultimately lead you in the direction of a more fulfilling, productive and satisfying life.

Sequential Clutter

Sequential clutter might be a term you’ve never heard, but I’m sure you’ve faced it at some point in your life. It refers to all of the day-to-day events, activities and tasks that clutter our schedules and consume our time. Yes, some very time-consuming parts of our day are completely necessary and unavoidable, but it all comes down to time management. You might be experiencing sequential clutter if any of these apply to you:

  • You get up early, stay up late and still don’t have enough time to get it all done.
  • You often find you’re supposed to be in more than one place at a time.
  • You spend more time transporting your family members to and from activities and events than you spend in actual quality family time.
Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash
Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash

How to Defeat Sequential Clutter

Defeating sequential clutter comes down to evaluating your schedule and reprioritizing. It’s about being mindful of the value you place on activities vs. free time. We recently posted Five Steps to Simplify Your Schedule and Gain Control of Your Life.  To sum it up: Delegate, Outsource, Collaborate, Evaluate and Modify.

Whether you’re impacted by physical, emotional or sequential clutter (or all three), know that you’re not alone. Clearing physical clutter and more effectively managing your tasks, projects and responsibilities will result in better mental clarity. Help is just a click away.

Our material clutter is a physical manifestation of our internal clutter: mental clutter, financial clutter and spiritual clutter. – Joshua Fields Millburn


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