Do This for 17 Minutes to Increase Your Productivity Today

productivityThe saying goes, “an empty desk is a sign of an empty mind.”

Being a creative professional, I appreciate that statement; it justifies my lack of organization and my messy desk.

However, if I’m honest, I know I need a certain amount of order to my mess.  When the mess turns to clutter that extends from the top of the desk to piles around the desk, on the windowsill and onto the chair, I need to take a few minutes to clean.

When you feel overwhelmed and the desktop can’t be seen because of the pile of sticky notes, books, reports, notes, important papers, letters and computer on it, it’s time to take inventory, hunker down and organize fast. Your business doesn’t work unless you are there working it.  We know we can’t take a day to organize.

But, we can take 17 minutes to do essential organizing and enjoy a more productive day.

  • Turn on some upbeat music (make it fun music!). This will help the creative part of your brain wake up and start working too.  Sing along as you work, this is your brain’s creative time to play before you need to start thinking.  (1 minute)
  • Set the timer for 17 minutes and commit to stopping when it goes off.  Knowing that there is a limited number of minutes to clean will help your brain and your body work faster.  (30 seconds)
  • Throw away all the notes, mail and paperwork you don’t have a place for.  Anything that you think, “I might need this someday” gets tossed.  Be ruthless with yourself, especially if you are prone to paper piling.  Junk mail is tossed immediately; even if you haven’t opened it.  October’s magazines have to go too.  All other magazines get stacked neatly and put off your desk. (5 minutes)
  • For the notes that contain ideas, meeting notes, “important stuff”:  if you have a habit of writing your ideas down (a good habit to have) but find this idea pile is cluttering your space, grab a file folder, a shoebox, or another type of file and throw every piece of paper into it. My friend, a novelist uses this practice when she is working on projects and gets an idea for a conversation, character or description.  Your mind is released to forget it and focus on other things when the important thought is written down and stored in its proper place.  (5 minutes)
  • Find a place for all the scissors, pens and paperclips.  (1 minute)
  • Water any sad looking plants.  Hang up jackets.  This is your minute to beautiful your office space. We work when our environment looks nice.  (1 minute)
  • Take out the garbage.  Walk briskly and get in some cardio.  (2.5 minutes)

The reason organization is essential is because it helps us to prepare.  If I am prepared for a project, whether I am writing an article, making a presentation, or talking to a customer, the the better I will do.

These simple but effective organization tactics can help you be more productive for the rest of the day.

Now I have what I need in front of me so I will not waste any time later in the day searching for it.  We all know what we need to do and accomplish to have a productive day.  Adding in a bit of organization will help us get more done and reach our personal and professional goals.  Additionally, our office space will look prettier.


Melissa AuClair

There is more than writing a list and checking it twice to see your dreams come to reality. You aren’t simply building a business (a challenging feat in itself) you are building a life. If you consider yourself to be in a creative business, you may especially appreciate Melissa’s insights on her path to building her own beautiful business. Go to for motivation, inspiration and fun products for creating success in your creative realm.

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