One of the biggest enemies to personal productivity is clutter. Due to our busy lifestyles, it doesn’t take long before scheduled order and a detailed process becomes the victim to a sea of clutter.
This is one area that I have worked on diligently. I’m sure growing up around hoarders and pack rats has played a key role, but I’ve also discovered the increase in productivity when I’m able to function in a clutter free environment.
Clutter shows up in multiple forms.
The biggest task I had to work into my daily routine was making sure order was a schedule task. Initially, it seemed like work. However, it didn’t take take long until it was just something I do.
The ultimate goal is to work from inbox zero. Email is pretty simple. First of all, I have times throughout the day that I handle email. The biggest productivity killer is trying to respond to email like it’s instant messaging. I have set times with a set process.
If I can answer it quickly I reply and send. If not, I work from a few in-boxes that I incorporated form David Allen’s Getting Things Done.
Then when I have more time to devote to email, I”ll work through my “Response Needed” and “Read and Review” in-boxes. At that point, if it doesn’t need to be archived, it gets deleted.
Postal mail can get out of hand quickly. Ultimately, I would recommend going paperless at all costs, but at this time I’m unable to completely avoid postal mail.
The first thing I do is open mail above a trash can. Let’s face it, there’s some mail that never gets opened. I tear it into a couple pieces and drop it into the bin. If it’s a piece of mail that I need to keep, I place it in my inbox to process at a later time.
I’m a big fan of magazines and probably have 20+ magazines cross my desk on a monthly basis. I’ve learned to quickly process that articles I want to read and ear mark for future reading. If you would like, check out how I process my magazine addiction.
Notes and Paper
I’m a huge fan of 3×5 cards. I use them throughout the day to take notes and capture ideas. When I’m done I throw them into my inbox to process later. At the time, I’ll add all the “to-do” items into my task manager and the rest of the notes, ideas etc. I drop into Evernote. After I’ve been able process the notes, everything finds its way to the trash.
Materials People Think I Should Read
I’m constantly getting things that forwarded to me that people think I should check out. Here’s the solution. Email goes into my read and review inbox until I can get to it. If it’s not relevant…. I hit delete. It’s the same way with printed materials. If it has value, it makes the inbox. If not, it makes the trash. It’s very simple process, keep what’s of value and get rid of the things that aren’t.
Trinkets and Trash
I’ll be honest, I don’t see how people get anything done with a desk that’s filled with decorative trinkets and trash. I especially don’t understand how anyone could get anything done when their desk looks like they’re a recycling bin for Diet Coke bottles.
OK… I’ll get off my soapbox.
I’ve learned that by keeping a clean and organized work surface, I’m able to be more focused and more productive over a course of a day. Having a very minimal desktop allows me to focus on the task at hand.
Clutter is a beast that gives off the appearance of being busy, but in the long run it’s the killer to your personal productivity.
Your career, your future and business is dependent upon your productivity. Don’t let clutter keep you away from your “A” game.
image courtesy of loonyhiker