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November 5, 2017

Clutter Hurts Your Productivity

For those of you who have taken my GO System program, you know that clutter–unfiled paper, electronic documents, and emails–has a negative impact on your ability to be positively productive. Researchers at Princeton University discovered that visual distractions—like that caused by clutter—will impair your ability to focus and get the results you need.desktop keeping order series

Clearing clutter and staying clutter-free is easy for some people. They know exactly where everything is located and filed away. On the other hand, some of us are “out-of-sight-out-of-mind” people. If we don’t see it, we don’t remember where we put it! So, how do you clear the clutter when it’s necessary to help you stay on top of things?

  • Set up a clear labeling system. I recommend using the same labelling system for paper, electronic documents, and email. This makes it easier to move from one medium to another. Use big labelling terms, like Insurance, Budget, HR, Vendors, and so on. Within these large categories, you can establish sub-categories. This will make it easier to file and retrieve documents.
  • Save documents based on relevance. Relevance means that the document has meaning for you. The ones you use most frequently should be easiest to get your hands on. Documents you refer to less often can be filed away.
  • Use archive files. Archive files let you file documents more than one year old and remove them from your workspace and your desktop.
  • Set up a follow-up system. If you are afraid that you will forget to follow up with something, you can create a reminder on your calendar or set up a system that lets you keep track of documents you can’t finalize.
  • Stay on top of filing. I recommend that you take time each day to file completed documents and clear existing clutter. If you have a lot of paper clutter, you might want to tackle it by the inch!

It only takes a few minutes every day to get and stay organized and be more positively productive. As we wind up the year, take time now to set yourself up for success in 2018.


Need help with email? See my Writing and Managing Email program for more information.

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