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Declutter Your Desk and Mind to be More Productive!

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Confession. I am not a minimalist. I’ve recently become very curious about the minimalism lifestyle, but I kind of like my stuff. A work in progress for sure, but something I’d love to move towards! One thing I know for certain, however is that it is next to impossible to be productive at your desk if you are surrounded by too much stuff…aka – clutter.

A mind thinking of 1,000 things (mind clutter!) added to physical desk clutter is a recipe for an incredibly unproductive day.

Declutter Your Desk and Mind to be More Productive!

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Last week I began a month long decluttering and organization challenge. That post gives several general tips to help you get started on the decluttering process.

This week’s focus is on organization and decluttering of the desk!

A messy work space and preoccupied mind will steal your attention, distracting you from getting things done efficiently.

Believe me, I get it. I have a mind that is constantly racing with so many ideas that I often don’t know where to put my focus.

I have a system that helps me get back on track and I think it will help you, too!

Let’s start with the physical distractions first…

How to Declutter Your Desk:

Step 1: Clean the work surface every evening

It may seem like a lot of work to clear your desk each and every day, but it is such a refreshing feeling to walk into work with a clean slate. I highly suggest clearing the desk at the end of each work day so you are greeted every morning with an uncluttered work space.

To me there is little worse than a pile of sticky notes, loose papers, file folders, and general junk cluttering your desk. It’s inevitable that things will get lost, deadlines might not get met, and appointments may be forgotten.

Taking a moment to clean off your desk each night allows you to feel more creative when you begin your work day each morning.

Step 2: Have a good paper sorting system

I’m a firm believer in only touching a paper once if at all possible.

Sometimes it might feel as though you don’t have the time or energy to address something, and to be fair, perhaps you don’t. But, if you keep putting that item in the dreaded stack, you will have effectively addressed it several times before you actually take the time to take care of it.

If you haven’t already, ensure you have a good filing system. This will save you a ton of time in the long run!

Paper sorting system suggestions:

  • Purge
  • Shred
  • File
  • Address ASAP
  • Address as able

Step 3: Get a Daily Planner

I love my smart phone calendar. Google Calendar is wonderful. It is a great way to sync calendars as needed with a spouse, business partners, and even our children.

There are many options available for electronic calendars. In our connected world I will admit that it is almost impossible to function without them. Our phone is always with us.

BUT, it is important to also have a daily planner.

Having a visual/ physical calendar helps our minds process tasks we need to complete.

A daily planner is also a good way to include notes and to do lists. Throw away all those post it notes and use your planner.

It’s also a great documentation system for things that have already happened! If your memory is less than stellar (like mine!), a planner can be your best friend.

Click to see a list of some of my favorite daily planners.

Passion planner turned to weekly spread.

Now on to a big thing for many…

Decluttering your mind to improve productivity

Our minds are constantly being bombarded with information. It is critical that we find a system to weed out everything but the essentials.

Step 1: Eliminate visual and auditory distractions in your environment

A mind full of off-target stimulus is a big productivity killer – mind clutter! A few things I find incredibly helpful in making your environment more conducive to a more productive day:

  • Reduce background noise. Turn off music and notifications on your cell phone. It is probably best to turn off your cell phone entirely. If you are surrounded by other individuals that are producing too much noise, you might consider noise dampening ear plugs. They do not completely eliminate background noise, but can be a game changer in keeping you focused!
  • Reduce visual distractions. We’ve already discussed a clean work space. Other visual distractors can also be a factor. Are you sitting by a window with a lot of activity? Do people constantly walk by your office? Take care of these factors and I’m certain you will feel more productive. Sometimes simply shutting a door or changing the direction of your chair can solve the problem.

Step 2: Stay off of Social Media

This area doesn’t really require a lot of explanation. Social media can drain so much time! If you feel inclined to look at your accounts during the work day, make an effort to save it for lunch time or perhaps as an afternoon “treat”.

You might even find that social media isn’t really a “treat” after all!

Step 3: File your emails or delete after addressing

Address email only a few times each day and take care of items immediately. This will mean turning off notifications. That constant ping, informing you of your newest email, will get you off task and ultimately be a time drain.

I realize not every job will allow for this. But, for the most part, if it can’t wait a couple of hours someone will likely pick up their phone and call you.

Step 4: Keep plants in your office

Having plants in the work space makes the office feel calm and more relaxed. Reducing anxiety at work will definitely improve your productivity.

Get a plant. Or five;-)

Cacti and other plants on a desk by a window.

Step 5: Tackle your hardest task first

Get rid of the dread you have for that tough project by jumping in head first. Knock it out so you don’t have to worry about it all day.

You’ll be so glad you did!

It’s time to declutter your desk and mind!

April at Love Our Real / Tips for selecting a domain name you'll love

I’ve teamed up this month with several of my blogging friends for this organization challenge. Take a look at their spin on decluttering an office. You are going to love their ideas, too!

Thanks for joining me today! I’m so excited to see all of our beautifully organized spaces as we commit to this decluttering challenge.

I hope you have a productive week!


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Improve your productivity by decluttering your desk and mind.
Sign of from April at Love Our Real Life

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  1. I use daily planners as well. I thought I was the only one who didn’t go completely digital. I found out that when I write something down, I can remember it better. I guess I am still old school. Loved all your tips.

    1. Thanks, Pam! I tried just using my iPhone for all of my calendar needs, but found I needed too many apps to do all the things that I wanted! A physical daily planner just works! Have a great week!

  2. I especially appreciate your tips for decluttering our minds. Such an important part of productivity (and sanity!) but often overlooked when we are thinking about organizing and decluttering “things”.

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