Productivity Hacks: Staying Organized to Stay Productive

How to stay organized and be productive

How to stay organized and be productive

Your organization has a huge effect on how productive you are. I know that if my apartment is messy then the only way I can get any work done at all is if I work facing a wall. If I even turn to see the disarray consuming the kitchen sink or the clothes that overtake the chair in my bedroom, any chance at getting work done is screwed.

Many people look at your level of organization as a personality trait, and it very well may be. I prefer, however, to look at personality traits as personality habits because it gives me a greater sense that I can adopt said trait.

Organization starts with the visual sphere and then moves into the internal sphere. If the world (aka your home, your office, your car, etc.) you look at is well organized, then you’re much more likely to be timely and productive. Hence, timeliness & productivity are, in part, by-products of organization.

Something both organized and unorganized people can relate to is not being able to sort out your thoughts on something in order to make a plan to move forward. When something’s too big to grasp completely, it’s good to take organized, concerted steps towards making a solid plan instead of trying to tackle what you can’t grasp in the first place.

Similarly, when things are out of place physically in either your work or home life, it can be difficult or paralyzing to move forward.

If you’re having a mental block, the simple exercise of organizing can help to move you forward. This can either be a stack of papers on your desk to sorting your numerous Google docs on your computer.

Here is how organizing your space clears away blocks to let you move forward:

1. We take on what we surround ourselves with

I moved from Charlotte, NC to Jupiter, FL when I was 8 years old and kids in my 2nd grade class called me either a hick or hillbilly because of my jolting southern drawl & overalls.

Within a year, however, my accent had mostly gone away. I still said “arnge” instead of “orange”, but my words were no longer drawn out longer than they needed to be.

Everyone is influenced by their environment, and this isn’t only true for accents. If we hang out with really cynical people, we will find ourselves thinking and speaking more cynically. If we work in a place where it pays to conform to the rulebook, we will find ourselves conforming to the rulebook (hence why Subway Sandwich “Artists” can’t put an extra slice of tomato on my sub).

The same thing is true if we are looking at a messy room. We will feel like a mess internally as well. If we see chaos, we are more likely to feel chaos. If we see tranquility, we are more likely to feel tranquility.

This is the same reason that psychologists recommend not watching television that will get you worked up right before you go to bed. It can literally unsettle your emotions which can make you feel chaotic--not exactly what you want when your head hits the pillow.

People should be more protective of how their external environment affects their internal state. I love meeting and being with people who are protective of it, but there are many people who have yet to realize they have this power.

Consider this your notice that you get to decide what you surround yourself with.

2. Organizing is active, not passive

Organization is nice because it can be a really active process. The activity of organizing makes you direct your thoughts to logically arrange things. Thus, unlike meditation, organizing does not require you to sit still in order to direct your thoughts.

Don’t get me wrong - meditation is great for helping you return to center and get you focused.

I just have a hard time even getting to my zen in meditation if the world around me is in chaos. Even though I close my eyes and can’t see the mess, I still feel it all around me like a heavy weight. It also can be like imagining a list of things that you need to get done that day, but you have no flow for it - or like having client appointments set up, but are simply not organized and as prepared as you need to be for them.

With the action and thinking needed for organizing, you start to move in a direction deliberately. If before you started organizing you were experiencing some kind of mental block, it’s very likely that you were thinking in circles. Just by its very nature, organizing requires an end goal that you’ll know when you reach and it will change the way you’re thinking.

It’s hard to sit still when the world around you feels chaotic. So don’t sit still! Get your life arranged.

3. Organization ends at some point

Unlike mental blocks which can go on for a long time, organization will only go on as long as you want it to go on. Once you feel good about the way something is arranged, you can mark it as done and move on from it.

The best part is, once you move on from it you’ll already be thinking in a logical, deliberate way and you can apply that to whatever task you want to tackle next.

There’s not a whole lot to say here. Even the most obsessive among us have to admit when something is organized enough. But getting something organized does exercise our brain into a certain thinking pattern which can help us move forward in our day.


So that’s how it’s done folks. Organization in our environment affects our ability to think clearly, it puts us into activity which will get us away from circular thought patterns, and eventually (when the organizing is done) it releases us as logically thinking individuals.

Has organization ever helped your remove mental blocks from your thinking? Do you feel that staying organized boosts your productivity or do you think it distracts you from actually getting your work done? Let us know in the comments below!

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