How Decluttering Will Improve Your Productivity
I recently returned from a week away for a speaking engagement in New York City to find my home in the state you would expect with two kids and two dogs. While he’d hoped to tidy up before I got home, in sole parenting, my husband had his hands full with busy mornings and kids’ activities. Recognizing we had some serious decluttering issues, he had started watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix with our daughter.
While his initial goal was to motivate our daughter to tackle her bedroom, it had some unanticipated side effects. With my suitcases still unpacked, I flopped down to watch Marie Kondo with them.
After a few episodes of binge watching I had my aha moment. Life could be so much simpler if I dove into Marie’s decluttering process. A big aha moment for someone who had come to accept clutter as a part of family life.
I spent the weekend tackling the bedrooms, tearing apart closets and drawers, filling the car with items that didn’t bring joy.
Happy with my progress, I had the courage to tackle the biggest challenge of all – my home office.
Decluttering the chaos
I don’t know about you, put I’ve always thought I had a system of organized chaos in my office. Yes, it’s incredibly messy, but I could find what I needed. So what’s the big deal?
Having seen the difference in decluttering the bedrooms, I thought – time to dig in and tackle this beast.
After two days of sorting through papers, shredding, sweeping and tossing out garbage, my office was in a state of declutter like never before. Everything finally had its own clearly defined place.
Gone were the kids’ toys and books that had migrated in my work space. In their absence was open space. Clear, uncluttered, nothingness.
With the clutter gone, I saw a difference in my productivity. Instead of spending the first 30 minutes of my workday clearing space on my desk, searching for papers or picking up toys, I was finally able to sit down and get right to work.
Where there once was a mess of mail and papers on my desk, there now sits my laptop and a simple one page to-do list. Nothing else.
Being free of distractions, I am now able to sit at my computer and get straight to work. And if I need a file – I no longer have to sort through old paperwork. My work has less competition for my attention.
Another bonus of Marie Kondoing my house (yes I’ve made it a verb), when I walk into a room I’m don’t grumble at the mess, pausing to pick something up or get distracted by towels falling out of the linen closet.
For those of you who work from home, you know how big of a distraction this can be. Especially when you are looking for an excuse to procrastinate.
If you work in a cubicle or office outside the home, I’m sure a bit of what I’m saying rings true for you too. Look around. Is your space crammed and in need of decluttering or do you have a minimalist approach with only your essentials on your desk? Be honest.
A side benefit of my Marie Kondoing, is those unexpected video meetings with clients. While most of my work is done via email, phone, or in-person, occasionally a client will shoot me a link for an online meeting minutes in advance.
While this previously had me racing to the living room, sitting in a chair with a picture and wall behind me, for fear of my client seeing the chaos of my office, I’m now able to hit the link without panic. Sure my backdrop is wood panelling (hey it was cool when the house was built in the 1970s), but it’s now the only distraction.
Not having to race through the house also gives me the extra time I need to prepare for the call, reading through materials and getting focused. Much better than the bolt down the stairs with my laptop under my arm.
If you’ve gotten this far in the article, then something about decluttering has sparked your interest. Maybe you recognize areas you need to attack in your workspace.
Even spending 10 minutes a day working on decluttering your space will help clear out the cobwebs (both literally and figuratively).
I encourage you to look at your workspace critically. Does it bring you joy or do you cringe having to sort through the mess to find what you need? What would your ideal space look like?
Don’t procrastinate. Get started. Even if you only have a few minutes a day to declutter your space, I promise it will increase productivity and decrease frustration – for you and your family and/or coworkers.
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