Minimalism has gained it’s momentum for all the right reasons. Though not everyone wants to be a minimalist, but the ideas of reducing your possessions, could be given some thought and focus specially when it can affect your productivity. Be it your closet or office desk or desktop screen, excess possessions / things in your surroundings can impact your focus and the ability to process information negatively. Neuroscientists at Princeton University, looked at people’s task performance in an organized vs disorganized environment and found that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress levels. Physical clutter overloads your senses, making you feel stressed, and impacts your ability to think creatively.
Nothing really lasts forever. We don’t accept that reality easily. Most of us gradually learn that no matter what happens, you have to move on. But you can also train yourself to become better at saying goodbye to things. We tend to accumulate a lot of things in the name of memory or sheer ego satisfaction or other forms of attachment. It doesn’t matter what the possession is, we can get attached to it. Decluttering is also an exercise to cope better with loss. It can be a way to keep reminding ourselves that everything is borrowed. We use it for a while and it gets passed on. Everything! Literally Everything!
Everyone’s perception and tolerance for clutter is different. Some people need clutter to an extent to feel the need to get things done. While clutter has been shown to negatively effect your performance, it is your perception of clutter that matters. You should seek to create spaces that make you feel peaceful and good. Before everything, be mindful of how clutter defines to you.
So, where can you apply the de-cluttering in your work to improve your productivity?
Emails: Every time you go into your inbox, clear out a batch. Like, archive/delete the ones you don’t need or better yet, unsubscribe. Organise your inbox to your convenience like either tagging it to a label or moving it to different folders. You can do all of that in 5 minutes. Then get out of the inbox. Repeat later when you login in next.
Work tasks: As you go through your day, in between the important tasks of checking social media, watching videos and playing games. why not take care of mini-tasks for work? Break bigger tasks into things you can do in a few minutes which can help you on a later time when you need.
Office Desk: Usually we land up saving a lot of stuff from old projects or older tasks that are no more needed. We can slowly clear them out once and how things get done. Clearing out that coffee mug in time once you are done with your coffee.
Desktop and pen drives: Having a cluttered desktop every time you turn on your computer can give you a constant uneasy feeling. At the end of each day, remove every file from your desktop. If you don’t have an immediate place to move the file, create one folder on your desktop and drop the stray files in there.
Bags: Arrange your money and cards in a way that feels easy. We tend to save a lot of bills and unwanted things in out bags. Clear out everything that’s not needed for your current project or environment. Organise the spaces in your bags in a way that feels light to carry.
Clutter, be it physical or digital, is something we’ll always have to deal with but it can be controlled the way we want it to be. Steering your own streams of consumption will give you a sense of power and a freed mind, leaving room for you to create and experience life without constantly depending on others to fill your cup.