3 Daily De-cluttering Habits That Will Transform Your Productivity
I don’t buy into the idea that creativity is born from chaos.
When I’m surrounded by disorder in any area of my life, it makes me feel panicky. And for me, panic is the kryptonite to creativity.
Being in a muddle – physically or mentally – is simply not conducive to being productive or focussed on anything.
That’s why I believe we creatives need to embrace the power of being organised.
And welcome some de-cluttering into our lives.
De-cluttering: It’s not just for New Year, it’s for life!
Now, I know what you’re thinking.
It’s a bit of a buzzword at New Year isn’t it? It gets bandied around a lot in January.
It’s ripe for all those well-intentioned folks who start off their shiny new years with dreams of becoming better people. Only to fall by the wayside by week 3.
Each year I’d spend a whole chilly January day furiously clearing, filing, re-organising & cleaning my office.
I’d sit back and smile smugly at the wonderfully blank canvas of a workspace I’d created. I’d feel liberated. Free to be productive, creative and to make good stuff happen.
But before long, the paperwork would begin to pile up again. Old Post-it notes and random unnecessary stationery items would breed like rabbits. And by the end of February not one teeny-weeny inch of actual desk would be visible under all my mess.
After repeating this ridiculous pattern for several years. I decided enough was enough.
Once a year was simply not cutting the mustard. I need to create myself a habit.
And that’s when I discovered the art of Daily De-cluttering.
And do you know what?
It’s so much easier.
And it bloomin’ well works.
So listen up.
Here’s what to do. And how to do it:
1. Daily Desk De-clutter
At the end of every workday clear the decks.
The only items allowed to remain on your desk are the minimal items you need to do your work. For me it’s just my laptop, my trusty notepad & a pen.
Everything else must go. Get it all tidied away on shelves or in cupboards. Personally I use magazine files & plastic wallets, but do whatever works for you. The most important thing is to get it all out of the way.
Then, when you sit down to work the next day, you have the perfect environment to get cracking.
2. Zero inbox
(Ok so full disclosure here. This one’s still a constant work in progress for me. But I’m getting there. And believe me, it’s worth the effort.)
Clear out your inbox.
All those old emails that are clogging up your inbox, creating unnecessary stress. Get rid of them.
The simplest way of course is to delete them.
But if you need to hang on to a message, just create some clearly labelled folders in your mailbox sidebar and move them in there.
All that should be left in your inbox is unread messages or emails that still require action or follow up. The idea is that you can then scroll through your inbox and easily see what’s outstanding.
If you want to take it further, you can even create specific rules in your mailbox so that messages about a certain subject or from a particular person automatically get filed into a folder for later reading.
3. Fortnightly filing
We often have the best intentions about filing important paperwork away, but because our filing systems are often closed off in cupboards or out of sight high up on shelves, we often let it slide. Piles of papers start popping up all over your home and workspace like little molehills. And before you know it, they’ve morphed into makeshift tables – the perfect spot for that lamp or your iPad to sit on.
Instead, implement an intermediate filing system. Use a clear plastic wallet to collect anything and everything that crops up on a daily basis and that needs to be filed. Keep this wallet far enough away from your desk (as per point 1) but close enough to hand to be able to add to it when you need to.
Then, set a regular reminder in your diary to spend 15 mins every fortnight filing all the accumulated items into their rightful homes in your standard filing boxes, cabinets and systems. Obviously if you don’t get much paperwork, perhaps monthly is better for you. But be careful not to leave it too long. The evil art of filing is much more manageable in small chunks.
If you’re feeling super organised, you can even add in a quarterly reminder to spend an hour clearing out any old files you no longer need.
Pretty simple, eh?
So, why not try and extend the New Year’s organisation to the other 11 months of your year?
Give my tips a go and see how you get on. Keep us posted on your progress…
And any problems or questions – you know where I am. Just #AskAngela!
Interested in hearing more tips and news from the MSPA team? Sign up to the MSPA mailing list and receive our quarterly newsletter.
Title image source: Bella Pieroni – www.bellapieroni.com