Productivity Tip #2 – Clear Off a Surface

Productivity Tip 2 - Clear off a surface

Every Wednesday, I share a productivity tip. Today’s tip is something you can tackle in just a few minutes but will have a significant impact on your productivity. 

I love clean counters. Unfortunately in a busy house, those surfaces fill up pretty fast. That is why when I am having a too crazy, want-to-pull your hair out kind of day and I can’t figure out which of the 20 things on my to-do list I should do first, I often decide to ignore the list and clear off a surface first.

Clear your mind by cleaning up

Clear counters and tables say to my brain, “Now we’re ready to {fill in the blank – make dinner, tackle a cleaning project, write an article.} It’s like all that physical stuff sitting there is occupying mental space in my head. It may take a little extra time, but I’m a lot more productive if I’ve tidied up a bit before starting some “real” work.

Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project agrees with me about the power of clearing off surfaces. She writes:

Over and over again, people tell me that they’ve gotten a huge charge from tackling messy areas. I think it comes from fostering a sense of control, and order, and space, and a feeling of freedom from stuff.


Just pick one area.

Even doing this for one surface can have a positive effect on your energy level and motivation. The nice thing about this strategy is that it’s concrete and doesn’t usually require much mental effort – just clean and put things away.

My kitchen table is now clear and I’m not distracted by any nagging thoughts of dishes that need to be washed or books to put away. These clear surfaces won’t last long, but I’ll enjoy them until they fill up again.

[This tip is #2 in my series on productivity tips. ]

How about you? Do cluttered surfaces slow you down?



  1. Candy Martens says

    I thought I was the only one! Tidy counters can change the course of my day. As I read your Tip #2 I could have sworn you were reading my mind.
    One more thing – I went back and read your tip about the importance of lists. For years I managed things with a plethora of lists at my finger tips. I was often teased about this but continued anyway. As my life changed, children grew up and left home I gradually let the lists go. I can’t say exactly when or why they faded into the background but lately Ive begun to notice that I’m not as organized about life in general. After reading your list tip it hit me like a ton of bricks. I need to get back to my lists! They will be different than those I kept years ago – my life is different now. Already – just thinking about this – I’m smiling and remembering the feeling of peace I usually had once my lists were made and I stared checking off (a very important thing for me) the items as they were completed. Such a feeling of accomplishment! This is going to be a good day……..

    • Sarah says

      Aunt Candy! Yes, you have always been great with keeping counters clear. I remember how I used to be amazed that you would put away your toaster!

      I’m glad you liked the list post. I’m sure you could teach me a few things about organization :)


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