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February 21, 2019

Why decluttering your life is the first step to achieving your best ever work

by Caragh Medlicott posted in Quick Tips.

Ayoa | Why decluttering your life is the first step to achieving your best ever work
Modern life is busy. As the saying goes – there’s so much to do, but so little time. Technically speaking, we all know what we should be doing to maintain a happy and healthy life – that is: doing fulfilling work, eating well and exercising regularly; all whilst making time for our friends, general leisure activities and getting a good night’s sleep at the end of it all. Whew. No wonder our lives get cluttered.

We can certainly be forgiven for letting the menial things slip by. When you’re swamped with work and the constant ping of notifications that keep rolling in, it’s easy to fall behind. Email inboxes are overflowing, meandering meetings are clogging up your calendar, and yet, despite all the talk, your team’s communication remains patchy, and your work is scattered.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s time for a change. Here’s how taking the time to declutter your life will help you achieve your best work yet:

clear up your desk and workspace for a tidy and organized mind

Discover a clutter-free workspace

Take a look at your desk right now. What purpose are all your possessions serving? That pile of books; do you ever actually read them in work? The papers and the folders; how often do you reach for them on an average day? Snacks, wrappers and general mess – isn’t it about time you moved them to their proper place in the waste bin?

A messy desk is a classic symptom of a busy person. The clincher being, busy people generally don’t have enough spare time to waste on non-urgent things such as clearing out their desk. But, believe me when I say that not doing so is a serious blow to your productivity levels.

A study from Harvard University found that students working in clutter-free environments worked for longer on average than those at messier desks – the study linked a messy workspace to lower levels of persistence in everyday tasks.

That’s why it really is worth making the time to organize your workspace. Clearing up your desk and working to maintain it, may just improve your resolve for all those other tasks you’re so busy doing. Plus, as productivity tips go – this one is pretty easy to implement.

Clear up your in-office communications and start talking about the stuff that matters

To-the-point communication

It’s time to cut the chat. It’s becoming increasingly common knowledge that unnecessary meetings and strings of “follow-up” emails are energy-sapping, time wasters. Nothing says micro-management quite like an email ‘just checking in’ – and worst of all it actually distracts the person working from doing the task at hand.

To communicate effectively with other team members you need to make sure that conversations are timely, purposeful and in-context.

Consider limiting the number of meetings you have. For many companies, this may seem an impossible feat – but creating some strict rules will not only stamp out the number of meetings you have, it’ll also make the ones you do have more effective. Every good meeting comes with an agenda for discussion, includes only the essential people and never overruns. When you can rely on meetings actually fitting their time frame, you’re able to plan the rest of your day effectively.

Email inboxes are where productive habits go to die. No, I’m not being dramatic. The problem with email is that it gives the illusion of being busy, while not actually offering much in the way of achievement. Instead, try using a task management solution.

With a tool such as Ayoa, you can resist the temptation to micromanage and instead see a visual display of projects at a glance and individual task progress. Having a virtual office where all ongoing projects can be seen at once makes task ownership and due dates clear – increasing office accountability and cutting out wasteful communication.

Of course, communication does have its place – and with Chat in Ayoa you can talk about work within context, and excluding non-relevant people; ultimately saving you time and making the conversation focussed and productive.

find your office zen - you'll work better when your mind is calmer

Calm work is better work

You should start every day with 2 hours of yoga and chanting to establish a clear mind…just kidding. Decluttering your mind doesn’t mean you have to join a yoga class or “find your zen” – instead, it’s about employing simple techniques to help you manage stress.

We all know the feeling; there are a million and one things flying through your head and you’re certain you’re going to forget about something. It is this feeling that leads people to become stressed, distracted and unfocused at work.

The best thing you can do in a situation like this is to take a step back, take some deep breaths and consider your priorities. Ask yourself, if you could only complete a maximum of 3 things today, what would they be? This will help you cut through the clutter and organize your workload.

Remember, you can’t magically add more hours into the day. Perhaps you feel you have a thousand things to get done, but attempting to get them all done is impossible. And not only that, trying to get them all done will only result in sub-par, panicked work which doesn’t reflect your best abilities.

Reminding yourself that you can only do your best is a calming way to stop fretting about the inevitable and tidy up all the mental clutter and stress buzzing about your brain. A calm mind produces far better work than a stressed mind ever could.

Remove the clutter in your working life by keeping everything in one place with Ayoa- sign up to streamline your workload and centralize your team.

Caragh Medlicott

Caragh Medlicott is a freelance writer and interim Editor of Wales Arts Review. After graduating with a First-Class Honours degree in English Literature and an MA in Creative Writing from Cardiff University she began a full-time writing career in Wales. She is the author of several published short stories and was shortlisted for the Lunate 500 award in December 2020, and a finalist in Narrative’s 30 Below competition in 2021. She is a regular contributor to BBC Wales' The Review Show.

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