In my experience, productivity and organization go hand-in-hand. When I have a project that needs my attention, I like to be able to focus on the actual work on my radar, not on working around any barriers to productivity. From what I found when I had my first apartment after college, barriers to productivity can take on a variety of forms: a cluttered counter top when I want to put groceries down, a disorganized desk when I want to pay bills, unsorted mail on the kitchen table when I want to set it for dinner, dirty dishes in the sink when I want to cook for the week ahead, etc. I’ve learned that even in those moments when the kitchen sink is full of dirty dishes, we can still be productive by doing just a few things to support the activity we wish to accomplish. Following are three ideas that could be helpful to you or someone you know in tackling barriers to productivity.
1. Take it one step at a time, one box at a time, one pile at a time. For example, if you have every desire to exercise in your basement but the basement floor is too cluttered with “schtuff,” tackle this barrier to working out one pile at a time. Don’t try to overhaul the entire basement in a slap-dash manner or all at once. Be methodical, and again, take it one step at a time. Start with one pile of items that need to be put away, discarded, or donated. Then move on to the next pile. Then move on to a third pile. Before you know it, you’ll have decluttered your basement so you can enjoy your workout adventures without having to scale piles of “schtuff” in the process.
2. Set time limits for tackling barriers. Want to cook some meals for the week ahead but feel overwhelmed by the dirty dishes in your kitchen sink? It’s easy to tackle this barrier to cooking productivity! Set your kitchen timer and wash as many items as you can in 15 minutes. It’s okay to be thrilled about doing this – especially if you crank up your favorite tunes. When this 15 minute-period ends, stop and take stock of what you’ve accomplished. Do a happy jig. Then determine how much more time you’ll need in order to finish washing the dishes. Make the decision to finish them at that time, or at another specified time when you’ll again give yourself a time limit. And when is all washed, let the cooking begin!
3. Everything should have its own place. Mary Poppins is a huge proponent of this, and I’ve always loved this concept. When everything is in its right spot, there’s a sense of settled order and grace in your home. Put things back in their spots whenever possible. And if it’s time to pay the bills and you need to declutter your desk first, set a time limit for tackling the clutter. Assign spaces to items that previously floated throughout your home, and in no time your desk will have a sense of order that’s conducive to doing paperwork and keeping tabs on your piggy bank.
* Photo by Hannah Chapman