Decluttering Your Way to a More Productive Year

how to declutter your life


Feb. 2 2016, Published 2:30 a.m. ET

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Can you believe we’re already in the second month of 2016?

If you’re like me, as a creative, you have resolved to make this your most productive and creative year yet. The beginning of the year is a great time to take inventory of everything in our lives and refocus on our major goals.

I’m taking steps to make 2016 my most creative year, with the help of New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (and Everyone Else) by Fay Wolf. Wolf, is a singer/songwriter, long-time actor, and has worked as a professional organizer for over ten years, helping celebrities, artists, school teachers and many in between, achieve simpler lives by decluttering and changing their viewpoint on their “stuff.” In her first book, she explains how getting rid of everything crowding your space and developing new habits, can help you achieve peak levels of creativity.

Author Fay Wolf, Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Sanabria
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Author Fay Wolf, Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Sanabria

Here are a few tips to help you jumpstart your creativity in the new year:

1. Less Stuff

Sort out items you aren’t particularly attached to (and things you may be attached to), by tackling small areas. “Remember small steps are important,” says Wolf, and remembering to have a ‘keep’ pile and a ‘purge’ pile can help you find order in the midst of downsizing.

Fay’s Pro-Tip: If you wouldn’t fall into a deep depression if it was gone, you probably can move on without it!

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2. Less Paper and Less Digital

Your workspace should be organized with your current projects and basic tools only, everything else should be put away out of sight in it’s proper place or available for quick reference if needed, in order to ensure minimal distractions. For reference paperwork (think: medical records, apartment lease, etc)  invest in a hanging-file system.

Fay’s Pro-Tip: Use Stacking Trays for blank papers only, as whenever anything covers something else, you run a high risk of “out of sight, out of mind.”

In a world where digital notifications bombard you at all hours of the day, it is important to be strategic about email communications and receiving your social media notifications. Whether using social media to promote creative projects or businesses, there are ways to actively post without being constantly plugged in.

Fay’s Pro-Tip: Schedule your digital communication with apps like Boomerang or Hootsuite, to make it appear that you are online, while being able to tackle other tasks on your to-do list.

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3. More Productivity

The New Order book raves about decluttering and organizing your space to clear out your area and mind, and now that you’ve done that what’s next? Wolf suggests mastering a To-Do list that works for you. Your to-do list will be filled with actionable items, not references.  Some recommended apps to manage a to-do list include: Todoist, Wunderlist, and Tuex Deux.

Fay’s Pro-Tip: The Notes applications on your phones aren’t the best digital choices, however, iPhone users can uses the Reminders task-list app to sync actionable tasks from your calendar, iCloud, and ones you load yourself with a timed reminder to help you stay on track.

Packed with even more organizing tips, advice on optimizing positive karma, getting the most out of human contact, and spending less time looking for your every day items, Wolf’s guide is a must have for creative millennials.

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By: Alicia Williams

Alicia Renee is a freelance writer and author residing in Atlanta, GA. Her debut novel Soul Kisses highlights mental health awareness in the African-American community. Her freelance work spotlights small businesses, women in business, and creative entrepreneurs.

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