Declutter Your Life
We all have a clutter of clutter in our lives. Sometimes, that clutter is physical – files on the work desk or piles of junk in the home. Other times, it’s emotional or mental clutter. Do you always seem to have too much to think about? Are you anxious and stressed about the things you haven’t accomplished? Do you struggle to focus on one thing? Clutter is the culprit.
Clutter, whether mental or physical, can seriously damage your productivity. When you’re surrounded by clutter, you can’t dedicate yourself to the task at hand. Files all over your desk make it difficult to work on the one you need to focus on. Junk all over your home makes it hard to keep on top of your household chores. Decluttering your life is, therefore, key to staying productive and achieving your personal best.
Clutter – The Enemy of Productivity
A cluttered environment is a chaotic environment. Chaos impacts negatively on your focus. It also stops your brain from properly processing information. Clutter distracts you and stops you from completing tasks efficiently and effectively. Conversely, a serene, organized and uncluttered environment is conducive to helping you focus.
Why the Clutter is Detrimental to Your Ability to focus?
When you overload the brain, it has to divide its power. This makes it harder to process information and switch between tasks. It also impacts on your working memory.
When you’re in the workplace, clutter can be extremely detrimental. It can literally prevent you from carrying out your job. Studies have shown that the average worker spends around 4.3 hours each week just looking for paperwork. Not only does this add frustration and stress to the work environment, but it also reduces creative thinking and concentration.
When your workspace is decluttered, you can be more organized. You can, therefore, sustain higher productivity, remaining fully focused on your priorities.
How can you declutter at work? Follow these top tips:
Adopt an effective filing system. If you allow paperwork to pile up, you’ll just waste time searching for papers. A systematic system of filing means you’ll know where everything is when you need it. It will also keep items off your desk and in a designated location.
Keep your work surfaces as clear as possible. Keep essentials like pens or notebooks within arm’s length. Keep everything else in drawers or cabinets out of sight.
A study has shown that Americans waste up to one week each year searching for missing items. Don’t become a statistic! Have a place for everything and keep everything in its place. That way, you’ll never be wondering where items are.
At the end of each workday, give your desk an overhaul. Check to see if any items can be thrown away or put away. This will help you to stay on top of the clutter that piles up over time.
What about in the home? Clutter in your house leads to clutter in your mind. It’s therefore important to keep mess to a minimum in your living space too.
How can you reduce the clutter at home? Here are some top tips:
Be ruthless. Don’t keep items because you’re sentimental about them. If there’s something that has sentimental value but isn’t useful, take a photo of it. You can then get rid of the item itself and just display the photo.
Set yourself regular times throughout the year to donate items to charity. Once a month is a good target. Keep a box for this purpose and put items in it throughout the month. Then, on your chosen date, take it to a local donation center.
Consider selling any items you no longer use or need. Not only will this declutter your home, but it’ll also make some useful extra cash.
Don’t shop for fun. If you genuinely need something, you should only take enough money to pay for that item. Don’t shop because you feel depressed or for a way to pass the time. Remove shopping apps from your smartphone. This will help you to save money and will stop clutter from building up.
Check what you’ve got and use it. Instead of buying new furniture, give old pieces a makeover with a coat of paint. Rather than buying a new outfit, consider how you can repurpose existing clothing. Turn worn-out jeans into shorts or cut the sleeves off an old jacket to make a gilet.
Consider adopting the trial period mentality. If you’re hesitant to get rid of a certain item, store it away for a set period. You’ll probably find that you can easily manage without it. Then you can get rid of it.
Adopt the one thing in, one thing out mentality. If you buy one new thing, get rid of an old thing. This stops clutter from building up. Instead of a closet full of shoes, you’ll only have the ones you need and wear, for example.
It’s never easy to declutter your life. We all tend to hoard items. However, we rarely need the things that mount up in our homes and workspaces. By being ruthless, we can minimize the physical clutter. This, in turn, helps us to get more done and feel better mentally too.
Eliminate digital distractions
Distractions aren’t all physical. These days, there are plenty of digital distractions too. These can be even more detrimental to productivity than physical ones. Have you ever found yourself scrolling through Facebook instead of working on that important report? It’s an all-too-common problem.
It seems that distractions are everywhere. From TV to social media, it’s important to remove them when you have other things to focus on. Whether you’re working on a task at home or in the office, digital clutter halts your productivity.
How can you get rid of your digital clutter? Here are some top tips:
Deal with your old emails. First, go through your old messages. Delete any which are no longer needed. For the rest, create folders in your inbox where you can store them away. Create one folder specifically for items that you need to deal with. This will keep them in one convenient location until you’ve dealt with them.
Handle your inbox. Put some rules in place for incoming mail. Whenever you receive spam, unsubscribe then delete. This will stop further spam from building up. If an email arrives demanding a response, tackle it immediately if you can answer it in less than two minutes. Remember that 2-minute rule? If it’ll take longer, put it into your folder and tackle it when you can.
Tackle your downloads. Set a time once each month or each week to go through your downloads folder. You’ll usually find you can delete most of your downloads. The rest should be moved into an appropriate folder.
Organize your folders. Having folders that are easy to use and access is key to productivity. Organize by priority, category or date as you see fit. Sort your folders on your phone too. Group your apps into specific subfolders so they’re easy to find.
Back up your important documents and information. Whether you use cloud storage or a physical hard drive, keeping those items in a safe location is paramount.
Manage your social media. Periodically, you should go through your social media networks and remove anything unnecessary or pointless. Unfriend, unfollow and create space for more important life influences.
Delete your bookmarks. Bookmarks are useful when you’re dealing with webpages. However, make sure you set a time to check the list regularly. This allows you to delete any bookmarks that aren’t relevant anymore.
Delete your browsing history and cookies regularly. This will speed up your computer’s start-up time and help prevent crashes. This saves you time and helps you stay productive.
Use a master password app or program. This helps to save you the stressful task of remembering all your logins and passwords. It’ll also ensure they stay safe from hackers and cybercriminals.
Cull old programs and apps. Set a regular time each month to go through your computer and phone. Delete any programs or apps you don’t use or need. This frees space and speeds things up.
Deal with your photos. We all take countless photos on our phones these days. However, many are useless. You probably have six copies of the same selfie as you tried to get the ideal angle! Delete the ones you don’t like. Delete any images you’ll never look at again. Most of us have taken a photo in a store to send a friend to ask their opinion. You don’t need those shots anymore, so get rid!
When you get rid of digital clutter as well as physical clutter, you’ll be more productive.
CLEAR YOU MIND
Not only do you need to deal with physical and digital clutter, but you should also remove mental clutter. These days, we’re always rushing about. This means your mind can become cluttered. In turn, this reduces your productivity since you can’t focus.
Meditation is a useful tool to eradicate this mental clutter. It also helps you to achieve greater clarity. You can take a mental break from the stresses of everyday life. You’ll also be better able to tune into yourself.
If you haven’t meditated before, you may need to practice for a while before you get the idea. Begin slowly to ease yourself into the practice gently. Find a comfortable, quiet place where you’re able to relax. Start with only a short, 10-minute session.
Meditation is a tool you use to become more mindful. You focus on both your body and your breath. If you find your mind wandering, simply acknowledge it and bring it back to your breathing.
Meditation doesn’t just help clear your mind; it also reduces your stress level. This helps to boost your focus. As a result, you can become more productive and achieve your personal best.
Are you ready to begin meditating?
Find a comfortable place which is calm and quiet.
Set a limit on your meditation time – around 10 minutes is a good place to start.
Put your focus on your body. You can kneel, or sit on a chair or on the floor. Make sure you’re comfortable and stable.
Focus on your breathing. Feel yourself breathing in and out.
Don’t judge yourself harshly if your mind wanders. Just return it to your breathing. It’s normal for your mind to wander at first.
Once the designated time is finished, slowly open your eyes. Spend a few moments becoming more aware of where you are and how you feel. Notice your feelings and emotions.
Practice daily, slowly increasing the length of time you spend meditating. Soon, you’ll find it easier to declutter your mind of intrusive thoughts that prevent you from being productive.