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9 Ways Decluttering Boosts Productivity

9 Ways Decluttering Boosts Productivity

There are many benefits of decluttering and these don’t just apply to your home. In this article we look at 9 ways decluttering boosts productivity at home, work and in life so you can get more of the right things done in less time!

WHAT’S YOUR DESK STYLE?

My husband and I have very different working styles. His desk is messy and mine is tidy. He has lots of stuff on his desk and I have very little. He likes to be able to see everything, I prefer to keep my stuff in drawers and the surfaces clear.

If you asked both of us who’s the most productive, we’d both say me. I think some of this is to do with the fact that my husband is very easily distracted and naturally finds it more difficult to stay on task. I, on the other hand, can be quite goal-orientated and get (and stay) in my own little work zone or bubble much more easily.

The other reason might have something to do with our desks and the presence or absence of clutter!

In this article I’m sharing some thoughts on how decluttering boosts productivity in the workplace, at home and in life more generally.

Let me know in the comments whether your desk style is more like mine, or my husband!

THE BENEFITS OF DECLUTTERING

Decluttering is the act of getting rid of clutter that doesn’t serve a purpose, add meaningful value to our lives or that we don’t appreciate in some way.

Clutter means different things to different people and my idea of what clutters my home might be different to what clutters yours.

There are also various types of clutter in our home, schedule and life including negative thought patterns, unhealthy habits, paperwork, outgrown toys and unused furniture, to give a few random examples.

Whatever clutter looks like to you, there are some amazing benefits of decluttering for our physical and mental health, our stress levels, overall happiness, bank accounts and much more!

9 ways decluttering boosts productivity

9 WAYS DECLUTTERING BOOSTS PRODUCTIVITY AT HOME, WORK AND IN LIFE

In this article I’m exploring how decluttering boosts your productivity so you can get more of the right things done more effectively and efficiently.

Decluttering makes it easier to find what you’re looking for

Having less stuff means that it’s easier to find what you’re looking for. This could be an important document, a precious old photo, medical letters, school exam certificates, emails in your inbox, a replacement bulb for your desk lamp.

No need to sift through excess clutter that you DON’T really need or want, just so you can find exactly what you DO need and want!

Decluttering makes it easier to have a clear, tidy desk

A tidy desk makes for a tidy mind! Whether you agree with that or not, I personally feel that a clear desk boosts productivity in several ways.

You have more space to use the desk surface, you don’t have to move or clear stuff out of the way, you can lay out what you need and, importantly, you can focus on the task in hand.

This also applies to kitchen counters when you’re making dinner so it’s not just applicable to when you’re working. A clear desk could also help your child study more effectively or help you enjoy hobbies by having a space to lay out your art and craft materials.

Decluttering reduces distractions

When your computer has too many tabs open all at one time, it slows the computer down. Your brain works in the same way so when you have too much clutter, your mind goes into overdrive flitting between the different ‘tabs’ and it slows you down as your brain has to catch up.

The same is true for multitasking. It’s often called a superpower and a useful skill for a busy life, but it’s really detrimental to our brain. Here’s an interesting article on how multitasking affects productivity and brain health. Better to focus on just one thing (or tab) at a time – if life allows!

Clearing the clutter removes the visual and mental distractions that are getting in the way of focused, productive work.

Further reading: 10 ways to reduce distractions

Decluttering improves prioritisation

When you have clutter on your desk, your inbox, your mind, it’s difficult to think clearly about which tasks are the Most Important Tasks (MITs) and the most urgent.

Our To Do lists and goal-setting become filled with a whole host of errands, tasks, responsibilities and To Dos all lumped together without clear prioritisation.

Decluttering enables us to clearly identify our goals, our objectives and come up with a strategy to achieve them.

Further reading: Decluttering Goals and Why They’re Important (+ Free Printable)

Decluttering helps us be more organised

Decluttering is a great way of getting rid of stuff that we don’t need or want, whether that’s ornaments on our shelves or paperwork in our filing cabinets or emails in our inbox. After decluttering, it’s helpful to get more organised with systems in place to store and manage our stuff.

Organising before decluttering isn’t so effective because that really just means we end up organising our clutter which can be a waste of time and energy and it means you have way more stuff to organise too which will take longer!

Declutter first then organise to help you be tidier and more productive.

9 ways decluttering boosts productivity

Decluttering means you can file, store and save easier

As part of the decluttering and organising process, you’ll probably find yourself working out what you need to keep and where you want to keep it. Giving the stuff you’re keeping a ‘home’ of its own, a place to be stored when not in use, is a great way of keeping your home and office tidy and staying clutter-free.

When you have less stuff generally and the stuff you DO have is stored properly, you can more easily set up systems to file, store and save your items, whether that’s documents, letters, emails, electronic files, photos, stationery etc.

This boosts your productivity, for example, by making it easier to find things and you know when you’re running out of items like paper, post-it notes or even food in the kitchen cupboard!

Decluttering improves efficiency

Not only does decluttering boost your productivity, but it also improves your efficiency too. This means that you can complete your work, send out that report, write that email, update that spreadsheet much more quickly, and maybe to a better standard, than if your home, desk and brain were cluttered and overstuffed.

It’s difficult to do your best work when your laptop is sat precariously on a pile of papers, your brain is in overdrive thinking of a hundred things all at once and you’ve lost that email you need to complete your report.

Decluttering avoids you wasting time

Many of the ways that decluttering boosts your productivity that I’ve mentioned already share the common theme of avoiding you wasting your time.

  • This could be about finding things, or dealing with too many distracting tabs open in your brain, but there’s more.
  • It could be about working on things that aren’t important or urgent because you haven’t prioritised what you ‘should’ be working on instead.
  • Maybe you’re unfocused and distracted because you’re relying on your brain, instead of a simple To Do list.
  • Perhaps you get bogged down in dealing with your inbox and lose track of time.

Your time is precious and decluttering avoids you wasting time and energy when it could be spent elsewhere.

Further reading: How to Make Time for What Matters Most: 8 Practical Tips

Decluttering makes the most of other time management techniques

There are some great productivity and time management tips which I talk about in my own productivity and time management course, Maximise Your Time.

Some of these include:

  • The Pomodoro method where you break down working into 25 minute slots with intervals in between
  • Batching similar tasks and doing them all at the same time (sending out emails, making phonecalls, inputing your accounts)
  • Eating the frog and getting your ugliest, biggest To Do out of the way as early as possible to remove it from your To Do list and mental load

There are many other productivity hacks that help us get more done in the most efficient way, but they all work better when we’ve decluttered first.

Too much clutter makes it difficult to identify WHAT work needs to be done, WHEN it needs to be done by and HOW to get it done to the best of your ability in the timescale needed.

Time management strategies won’t help you as much as they can if you haven’t taken steps to clear your desk and mind, get organised and focused.

Further reading: Time Management Tips to Simplify Your Life

9 ways decluttering boosts productivity

5 ACTION POINTS ON DECLUTTERING AND BEING MORE PRODUCTIVE

Having read some ways that decluttering can boost productivity, you might be wondering where to get started. Here are 5 action points that you might find helpful!

Get clear on your goal

As with most changes we’d like to make, having a vision or goal helps us know why, what and how to get there. What’s your goal with decluttering for productivity? Are you easily distracted, unsure of your To Do’s or your priorities, do you keep losing things, are you disorganised?

Identify painpoints

Another way of getting clear on why you need to declutter and/or be more productive is to work out which area of your home, work or life is causing you stress or least productivity.

Does your desk stress you out every time you sit down to work at it? Have you got thousands of emails lurking in your inbox and it’s a scary place to be? Have you got paperwork piles on all your flat surfaces? Is it more generally a room or area of your home? Your office, kitchen, bedroom?

Keep a record

If you’re unsure of your answers to the above 2 points, try keeping a record over the next week or so.

How does your home, office or workspace both look and feel? When do your stress levels get triggered? Why do you feel under pressure? What causes you to feel unmotivated, unsure of what to do next, wasting time?

Keeping a record might highlight some of these problems for you so then you know how to deal with them.

Focus on specific areas

Decluttering your entire home or office might feel overwhelming. Here are some key areas that you might like to prioritse:

Create a To Do list

Do you rely on your brain to remember a list of things you need to do? Try this article on how to create a To Do list, that’s simple and strategic and a visual reminder you can rely on.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

I hope you enjoyed this article and 9 ways that decluttering boosts your productivity.

Decluttering has many wonderful benefits and it can really help us to get crystal clear about what’s important and what’s not, whether that’s in our home, life or work. It’s about making purposeful and intentional decisions around our priorities and streamlining our environment and home and work space to set us up for maximum productivity!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and whether you have any other ideas or suggestions to add. Please leave a comment below!

MORE RESOURCES ON DECLUTTERING AND PRODUCTIVITY

Here are some resources which you might like to explore for tips and advice.