Last week in our series on how to be more productive at work, we talked about honouring our body's natural biorhythms in the day for increased concentration (if you missed it, read it here). Today we are looking at decluttering as a direct productivity booster.

2: Messy bed, messy head

Our environment plays a subtle but influential role in our productivity levels. There is a phrase I love that sums this up perfectly: "Messy head, messy bed". I'm not sure who said it first but it's spot on. The more our environment is cluttered up with stuff we don't need, or use, or has outlived its purpose, or is a chore waiting to be tackled, or is broken, or surplus to requirements, the more energy is sucked away from what we really want to be focusing on.

I am not sure what the equivalent is for the office "Messy desk, messy ..." (answers on the back of a postcard please. Almost nothing rhymes with desk it would appear - yes I checked - and messy desk, messy burlesque makes no sense). You get the idea though. Having piles of paperwork, journals, coffee cups, reports to go through and endless tasks crying out for attention in your eyeline suck the productivity energy right out of you. It's far harder to be motivated to start something when you are looking at a mountain of things to do, than if you have a clean, orderly environment and can clearly see the wood for the trees. One of the fastest ways to up your motivation and boost your productivity is to have a ruthless declutter in you work environment (whatever kind of environment that is). Stop. Clear the decks. Throw away as much as you can. File what you need to. Wipe things clean. This will allow you to identify your priorities with much greater clarity and speed, and get so much more done.

3: Digital declutter

I had a client tell me they had more than 5000 emails in their inbox. Five thousand! That thought made me feel almost physically sick. It's not just physical decluttering that is powerful in terms of boosting productivity and motivation: these days digital decluttering is becoming just as important. Tidy, organised inboxes and folders - where you can file things quickly and at the time you use them - will create order and improve productivity. Being able to retrieve things easily without lengthy searches, muttering under your breath, and creating some standardised replies to the top 10 queries you are sent, will free up so much mental and emotional space. When you look at your inbox and there are only 50 emails to work through it's a task that seems doable - as opposed to 5000, which is Sisyphean. It's also so much easier not to forget stuff or forget to get back to people when you can see what's what. Figure out a strategy that works for you; invest some time in setting up your digital filing, delete with a ruthless ferocity and see how much difference it then makes to your productivity levels.


Through her online Happiness programme "Wellbeing Warriors", life coach Louise Thompson helps people unlock their happiest and healthiest life. Sign up at and find more from Louise at