Productivity is best explained as doing more with the same resources and limited time that you have today.

And yet, we’ve all been there and now more than ever because of the pandemic: a mountain of work piling up, the never-ending to-do list, WFH and homeschooling happening simultaneously and the list goes on and on. And so how exactly are you supposed to get to your personal finances when your to-do list and physical space isn't cooperating? Well, it's a good idea to back-track a bit.

Whether you’re Type A or Type “I’m a creative, and the piles help me think,” there’s nothing as beneficial to productivity as decluttering and starting fresh with an organized system. Yes, handling your own personal finances is pertinent but it does require some time and organization. So before getting down to the nitty-gritty of finances, first simply start with decluttering and organizing your physical space, which will then help you gain momentum on tackling other tasks such as finances. You can increase your productivity tri-fold by spending just a few hours organizing and decluttering your space.

Marie Kondo has always been popular and more recently TheHomeEdit on Netflix, for good reasons. Here’s why decluttering can actually help bring clarity to your workspace, finances and your life.

Decluttering Lowers Anxiety + Stress Levels

When things pile up, stress levels build up leading to a sense of overwhelm. If you are searching for any item, you have to go through heaps of irrelevant stationery and paperwork which can leave you frustrated and slow down your work efficiency. It can have a compound effect on increased stress and make your work seem more difficult. As Marie Kondo references, “A messy room equals a messy mind.” And you don't want to approach your finances with a "messy" mind because you will be making bold and long-term decisions. With less clutter in your workspace, you open up space to think, move fast and make locomotion much easier. Instead, it can be a pleasant experience to be at your desk once it’s organized and then you can tackle your finances.

Decluttering Frees Us From Unnecessary Distractions

Keeping your physical and digital space decluttered and organized ultimately gives you more time to focus on what really matters such as spending your time mapping out your goals, including a pathway to financial independence. When your desk and digital distractions such as emails are organized, you’re not wasting time getting distracted by notifications and unimportant tasks. Organize everything and leave all distractions at the door. Once you complete this, you can laser-focus on handling your personal finances and getting started with making sure you have an emergency fund, term-life insurance, disability insurance and so on.

Decluttering Gives You More Space

When you have a well-organized workspace, it becomes easier to properly articulate your work schedule and prepare your itinerary effectively. It also helps with time management and keeping track of important tasks. This way, you can easily schedule allotted time for financial planning and not have it pushed to the back burner. Less clutter = more space. When you let go of all the physical things, you also stop fighting for room on your desk. Maybe you share your office chair with a pile of folders. Let that be a thing of the past. With more space, you’re left with your fresh ideas and space waiting to conquer the day. Having a spacious environment to think, increases your productivity and will make you more efficient.

Decluttering Let’s You Decide What’s Important vs. What’s Not

Decluttering gives you the opportunity to decide once and for all what you need to focus your time and energy on and what’s just not worth it. There’s no need to hang on to anything that doesn’t bring you joy or inspiration. If it’s taking up unwanted space in your mind and in your office, then it’s time to say goodbye. Out with the old, and in with the minimal, because you have bigger goals to chase, like financial independence than worrying about stuff you don’t need anymore. Give yourself a sense of accomplishment and clarity with one project: declutter. Start by spending time gathering together all the old things that no longer bring you joy, and then either throw them away or donate them to someone else. Knowing that you did something necessary for yourself and your own self care, as well as giving back to somebody else who could use your old treasures, brings a whole lot of good juju and a sense of pride for all your hard work.

Decluttering enhances creativity

Sometimes, the best way to develop a great idea or plan the future is to start with a clean and properly arranged workspace. Research has shown this is how some of the greatest thinkers start their idea process or get tasks done. Following the psychology behind the KonMari method, once you remove things that don’t “spark joy,” you are invariably removing stuff that will limit your brain’s creative ability. Things that bring us happiness or spark joy, have a way of sparking creativity as well.

Now, here are some super useful tips for organizing your home or WFH office:

Start with the area you use the most. Starting is often the hardest part of organizing. When you don’t know where to start, always start with the area you tend to use the most. For example, if taking notes on a call is the most used space, then tackle that section first. Once you get that out of the way then you can move on to areas that you don’t use as often.

Use minimal furniture. Replace clunky desks with sturdy shelves to hold your essentials like computers and books. Ikea or other minimalist furniture can be your friend here.

Save space with a monitor stand organizer. A monitor stand with drawer features can save space and help you stay organized.

Tackle all paper and digital storage. The amount of paperwork can become a problem for most professionals. An office can get cluttered and disorganized very fast if proper storage solutions are not in place. Also take the time to organize your digital apps, folders and notifications.

Use cable clips. Organize your desk and avoid tangled cables and wires with simple and practical cable clips.

Labels, labels, and more labels. Labeling items is a huge time saver. Labeling drawers, bins, and containers help by giving everything a set place to be stored. It saves time when looking for items and also to know where everything goes when storing it to its proper space.

Photo credit: Heybayy

Place items in ways where you can see them. One consistent theme of home organization is to place items in boxes or storages facing you so that you can see each item and can easily access them.

Visit the Container Store. This is the go-to place for all things home organization; they have great storage solutions including boxes, bins, and units to help you tidy up and stay organized.

Reward yourself. The most important step is to reward yourself. Cleaning is hard — we all know that; so don’t forget to take a break. Take care of your home but remember to take care of yourself.

Know when to delegate/have help. Cleaning can be easier when done as a team. Find someone who can keep you accountable, whether it’s your significant other, a friend or a professional organizer.

Decluttering can help improve your productivity and allot time to manage your finances. Optimizing your work area can lead to significant benefits with efficiency, productivity, well-being, and of course potential FI/RE!