Clutter sucks. It gets in the way, it clouds our physical space and emotional space, and seems to always get in the way just when we need to accomplish something most.
I know we’ve all been there, you’re late for work, you’re running around the house trying to grab everything you need before heading out the door and you just can’t seem to find your car keys. Or maybe your story is a little different.
Maybe you need that file located somewhere in your downloads folder, the problem is your downloads folder has about 300 files in it and you can’t use the search function because you can’t quite remember what that pesky file is called.
Clutter finds ways to ruin our productivity on an almost hourly basis. It invades all aspects of our lives, it forces us to slow down, it wastes our time, and it is incredibly unnecessary. Here are a few simple ways to reduce clutter and help you increase your productivity.
Become More Minimalist
Guess how much time I waste in the morning rifling through my makeup bag for to find the right tool for my morning routine? None. Becoming a minimalist saves time! This is because I have a small number of beauty products that I use everyday, and it’s easy to just reach in my bag and grab the exact thing I’m looking for. Having less stuff, means there’s less clutter, which means less stuff to slow me down. Having less stuff is the number one way to keep clutter from ruining your productivity.
Make a Landing Strip
This idea I credit to Apartment Therapy, and it’s helped me immensely reduce the amount of time I waste before leaving the house. A lot of daily clutter that slows us down involves things we bring into and take out of the house.
Can’t find that purse? What about those car keys? Do you remember where you put that USB drive that your mother gave you with some family pictures on it? No? Better start searching the house then.
A landing strip is an area right inside your door that houses everything you take into and out of your home. It should have a place for everything including your purse, coat, shoes, keys, mail, and anything else you might need quick access to. It’s a great way to stay organized. Real go-getters even equip their landing strips with recycling bins for junk mail, old receipts, and flyers – so that stuff never even makes it past your threshold.
Take Care of Those Folders
I’m really great at keeping my work computer organized. I know that things are starting to get out of control when I start saving files to my desktop, so every few weeks, I make sure all of those desktop files are moved to the correct folders, and I make sure to empty my downloads and temporary folders as well. I must admit though, I’m not nearly as disciplined with my home computer.
My fiance and I recently started sharing a single computer and we haven’t really worked out a system yet. We’ll tackle it soon though, and I grind my teeth every time I have to go hunting for files – because I know it’s easily avoidable!
You Do Not Own Hermione’s Purse
If you don’t know what Hermione’s Purse is, enlighten yourself here. This one is for the all of the women out there who spend a few minutes every day rummaging in their purse for this or that. I say, enough already. Do you really need everything that’s in there? You probably don’t, I know I don’t need everything in my purse, and all I have is my wallet, my glasses case, some lip gloss, a folded up reusable bag and my cell phone. I keep some emergency cash in an inner pocket along with some gift cards and that’s it! It saves so much time to not have to rummage through my bag looking for stuff, it’s all right at my finger tips – and more importantly – it’s all I need.
Clutter, if left unchecked, can waste time and lead to a huge decrease in productivity at work and in life in general. It trips me up, slows me down, and generally drives me bonkers. It doesn’t have to be this way though, by employing these simple decluttering strategies, productivity busting clutter can be reduced significantly. You might even save your sanity too. 🙂
DC@Young Adult Money says
Yes, clutter kills it! But I have so many files on both my home and work computer that I question whether I will ever fully have them organized….and I'm just talking about electronic files at this point :0 I also couldn't imagine sharing a computer, we are both on ours at the same time way too much.
My recent post Friday Giveaway Roundup – 26 Giveaways
John S @ Frugal Rules says
I definitely think it can ruin productivity. We seem to have the clutter part down, now we just need to fix the too much junk thing now…which is on the schedule for us here in a few weeks. I don't think my wife and I could ever share a computer though as we're both constantly on ours with the business…plus she has an Apple. 😉
Clutter can be such a huge problem! We are in the process of minimalizing our lives right now so that we don't have to deal with so much clutter. 🙂
My recent post February 2013 Recap
STEVEN J. FROMM, ATTORNEY, LL.M. (TAXATION) says
Great post. My idea is to try to shred and throw away something every week at home and in the office. There is just too much junk and needless clutter. Love the landing strip idea.
That's a great place to start! Once it's all cleaned up, focusing on not bringing in extra clutter will come easily.
Clutter is a productivity killer at my house as well. Reducing my possessions has made a huge difference.
I'm glad to hear you've had success!
I swear by "A place for every thing and every thing in it's place." Like your landing strip idea, I make sure that I have a certain place for my keys, and that is where my keys go every time. Same with my metrocard, phone, and wallet. Nothing goes in my pockets – ever. That is rule #1!
That's a good rule! I always seem to have receipts and such cluttering up my pockets.
Rich Uncle EL says
I go through time frames where I throw out a ton of paperwork, and then fill up the desk drawer with paper work again. I feel clutter can affect my productivity because it is distracting to look at; I tend to keep my paperwork filed away. I go once a quarter through it and throw out the documents.
I find clutter distracting too! It's hard to concentrate with all of that paper floating around.
I am VERY good about clutter in the house, but my computer is a mess! You are right about the 300 files in the download folder. I need to do a computer overhaul for sure.
Me too! It's on the list.
My wife and I are very anti-clutter. We got rid of the coffee table in our living room because all it did was serve as a clutter collector, lol. It's a bit more difficult to control the clutter now that we have a two-year-old boy running around the house, but we still try to stay on top of things. Once very couple months we go through all this toys and such and pack up/give away a bunch of things (he has aunts and grandparents that always seem to buy him things) so we don't accumulate too much "stuff".
My recent post Plan for the Future, But Live in the Moment
We did the same thing! We got rid of the kitchen table because we never used it and it was just a dumping ground for clutter. I don't miss it one bit.
Christopher @ This that and the MBA says
I am just like you with the folders on my desktop…i have folders labeled junk stuff i download and just not seeing it out relieves stress. If I see my desktop and I cannot see the picture, it is time to do some cleaning. With the new windows 8…that leaves some stuff to be desired, sometimes I forget programs I have because you have to switch back and forth. Hopefully someday I will master it.
I think once I didn't have time to clean my desktop, but it was so annoying that I created a folder called "desktop" and put everything in there. It temporarily worked until I got around to cleaning up that file.
I definitely want/need to spend some serious time decluttering my apartment. It's absolutely insane how much "stuff" I've accumulated in the few years after I graduated. When I moved, *everything* I owned fit into one vehicle and a small U-Haul trailer and now I have a full apartment, and a black-hole storage closet.
And I agree 100% about the monster purses! I will never understand how women can carry around all that stuff with them all the time! Maybe I'm just weak, but even my moderately-sized purse can start to hurt my shoulder if I have too much clutter in there…
My recent post February Recap
When I'm travelling I really notice how heavy my purse is. I suppose it's all of the walking that does it. It's definitely easily to just have less!
The Norwegian Girl says
I hadn`t really thought about it, but I guess it does! that reminds me, I need to do some cleaning up on my mac. I just transferred everything from my last computer, but haven`t really made a system of documents etc.
I did do some major cleaning up in my pictures last year. made a file for every year. but I haven`t been keeping it up.
I need to clean up my photos as well. I was doing really well with storing them on Flickr, but then I got behind on my uploading…
We have so much stuff in our apartment, but luckily I'm an organization queen. However, I still want us to get rid of a lot of junk and I've been working on selling old stuff through ebay lately. Clutter really does get in the way!
My recent post Knowing When to Take A Rest Day
Selling through Ebay is a great idea! You get rid of clutter, and end up with a little extra cash as well. It's a win-win!
I am always de-cluttering. I hate stuff! The landing strip is a good idea; I have a place where I put my keys and my purse and our re-useable bags. I clean out my purse once a week, cause somehow receipts make their way to the bottom of it 🙂
My recent post Link Love: Hello March Edition!
My purse is a receipt grave yard as well. Luckily it's small so it only takes about five minutes to clean out.
My desk is an alter to clutter. I've made multiple attempts to declutter it. All to no avail. The clutter grows exponentially, and I just can't clean that fast. Occasionally I do entertain thoughts about just lighting the thing on fire as a way to quickly declutter. As for the productivity, I think it's a wash. I'd either waste time combing though the clutter to find something, or waste time decluttering.
I suppose finding ways to keep clutter from starting in the first place would be a good strategy for you. If it keeps coming back after you clean it up, maybe you need to get to the root of the problem!
I love de-cluttering… I like to live like I could pack my main possessions into the back of a car and leave! 🙂 Have a great weekend!!!
My recent post Your Essential ISA Guide – Investment ISAs
I would love to live like that! I'm pretty close right now, and I don't plan on adding much to my life any time soon.
I think clutter can confuse you as to what you have, how much or how many you have of different items, so you may end up buying stuff that you don't need or not have enough of something. I'm really bad at this, but I'm trying to be better at throwing things away and keeping track of what we have.
I am a ":clutter" person. My desk and my workbench are typically a mess. the odd (and fortunate) thing is that I know my mess and somewhere in my brain there's a memory bank that tells me exactly where everything is. Of course if someone messes with my mess, everything goes to the dogs. A landing strip, for some obscure reason my desk has become the landing strip for everyone else in the house. If they don't know where it goes, it lands on my desk. It drives me nuts!
My recent post Sequestration – Let it Come – Here’s Why
We tend to be very organized when it comes to where we put things, how things are folded in drawers or put in the closets, our finances and what's on our desk etc etc. It's the worst hearing… oh where did I put that sweater only to turn around and find the bed covered in clothes. All my tools are organized neatly and I know where everything is. Mind you I do have my days but I always make sure to straighten up.We also get rid of stuff we don't use either by selling it or giving it away free on freecycle. Some may find it odd we are organized but you know what, the amount of time we used to waste searching for stuff… makes it all worth it. Some people thrive in a cluttered environment though. Cheers
My recent post Personal Finance Reading List #9- Welcome March~ B.C Pooled Pension Plan
I completely agree, I would much rather spend a few minutes organizing at my leisure than five minutes hunting like a mad woman for something when I'm pressed for time. Staying organized is worth it!
Clutter makes me cry, but I have a hard time dealing with when I'm stressed out as it is.
My recent post On Hobbies That I don’t Have Time For
I had never heard of the landing strip idea for clutter reduction, but that's both a great idea and a fantastic name for it!
My recent post Networking is as simple as getting out there
I carry a wallet – with 2 card pockets (8 cards?), zipper area for coins, and windowed pocket for my license. Receipts get folded and put in the larger card pocket – and I empty it into a shoe box when my wallet seems full or make time to check them against my bank account. I have a finance program on my computer and categorize my expenses for tax purposes. I used to carry a ladies bag, but now only do that if I am traveling on a plane and need more items with me. Keeping a comb and trash bag in the car also helps a lot. And wearing clothing with pockets – for the wallet, my keys, and a shopping list. (And I don’t undress without emptying my pockets first – and putting wallet and keys away.)