Having clutter around is a major reason why we often struggle to be productive. Our physical environment has a major influence on our mindset, our emotions and our behaviours.
When we have a cluttered environment around us, it can:
- Demotivate us.
- Cause us to work inefficiently.
- Affect our relationship with those who are also exposed to the environment.
- Cause us to lose respect with clients, colleagues or loved ones.
- Deter others from wanting to work with us.
A cluttered physical environment is usually a symptom of a cluttered mind. This can affect our ability to focus and be creative, and cause us to get distracted easily. In order to increase our productivity, we must start paying more attention to our physical environment.
In order to start decluttering, we must first start with ourselves and clear our mind. Then we can start applying some simple strategies to ensure that the changes we make in our physical environment actually sticks rather than our efforts going to waste.
Here are seven simple things to consider when decluttering that will help create a more pleasant environment, reduce our stress levels and make us more organised and productive.
- Create a clear mental picture of how you want your environment to be. Before we can create something in the external world, we must first create it in our mind. This is where visualising each room or work area exactly the way we want it to be is extremely powerful.
When we visualise, not only do we get more clarity of how things should look like, we also get emotionally connected to the outcome we want. Having a strong emotional connection to how we want things to look like is what will sustain our new environment over the long run.
- Make a personal commitment to doing something everyday. The biggest mistake we can make is to try and declutter every room or work area at once. If you’re in a situation where that is the best strategy for you, then by all means, go for it.
The reality is most people are already struggling with their normal commitments and it won’t be practical for them to commit a large amount of time at once to declutter. Therefore, it makes sense to start small — maybe 10-15 minutes per day during the week and 30 minutes during the weekend. Consistent incremental improvements over time is what will make it possible to create our environment the way we want it.
- Start with the room or area that will provide the biggest benefit if decluttered. It could be your garage or your office/workstation or your bedroom. The key is to try and get a quick win, which will build up momentum and keep us motivated.
Create a system for sorting out each room or work area. For every item being considered, sort them into piles according to:
Once we know what we are going to do with each item, the actual process of decluttering becomes a lot easier.
- Start reducing paperwork. For most work areas, excess paperwork is a key contributor to having a messy environment. I know this all too well from experience. With so many electronic options available now, we should intentionally start reducing the amount of paperwork we have to deal with.
Some simple examples can include having bills or statements sent electronically, scanning documents and storing them digitally. Even consider donating some of the books you’ve already read and will not read again. Moving forward, consider buying only digital books, where possible. The key is to start reducing the amount of physical input coming in. Bring in less and send out more.
- Create a clutter free area. Sometimes we have to get real with ourselves and others, and say “no more.” This may involve eliminating everything from our work area and only have what we absolutely need, like our computer and any material related to the project we are currently working on. We can also consider applying the same rule to other areas like our kitchen bench, study area or garage.
- Have a system for dealing with incoming input. It is important to also remember that our computer can also be cluttered, which will affect its performance and also how effective we are when we are working. This is why we must know what our daily/weekly/monthly priorities are. We must keep a schedule or calendar, and set up routines that will help us be more organised and efficient, which ultimately will help us maintain a clean physical environment.
- Set some boundaries or guidelines with others to maintain your environment. The last thing we want is to put in a lot of effort to declutter only for others to disregard our hard work and start cluttering our environment again. As per the previous point, once we have a system in place, we must be willing to let others know what our expectations are now.
It is important to remember that when we have too much clutter around us, it creates stagnant energy, and prevents energy from flowing. The more attention we can give to our intention of having a clean environment, the more we allow energy to flow, which ultimately will support us in what we are trying to do or achieve.
Question: What is one technique that can be used to declutter easily?
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