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5 Surfaces You Need to Clean Off Now to Be More Productive

Brittany VanDerBill  |  January 6, 2022

Does cleanliness really make us more productive? Yes. Here’s a look at the five surfaces you should clean for a more productive 2022.

As we enter January and look forward to the rest of 2022, many of us are thinking about how to be more organized or more productive. It may surprise you to learn that there are five surfaces in your house that, if you clean them off now, will help you be your most productive self. 

But we also know it can be a little overwhelming to get started, particularly if you’ve been ensconced in a little COVID nest since March of 2020. Because of that, we turned to a couple of experts to help us get more organized and more productive in this brand-new year. 


It may interest you to know that clutter isn’t just clutter. According to Barbara Hemphill, Founder, Productive Environment Institute and Author, Less Clutter More Life, “Clutter is postponed decisions.”

As if that wasn’t enough of a lightbulb moment, she goes on to say that “the reason people have so much clutter is that they are afraid to decide.” Hemphill points out that people might delay cleaning up paper clutter, for instance, because of various emotions. That might include being “afraid to let something go” because we may end up wanting it back once it’s gone. 

Julie Morgenstern, Productivity and Organizing Expert, adds that cleaning off the five areas you touch most often every day does boost productivity. She says, “If each one of them holds only what you use and love and helps you get things done…then your space supports you in your most frequent tasks and activities. This prevents you from procrastinating because each space now invites and supports you.”

Sounds refreshing, doesn’t it?


Now that you know what clutter may represent and why cleaning it up can boost productivity, it’s time to take a look at the five surfaces you must clean off to increase productivity. 


Both Morgenstern and Hemphill agree that you should clean off your bedside table. Morgenstern says this will “help you relax and unwind to get the rest you need, which is a pillar of productivity.”


Our experts conclude that cleaning off your desk area is another must-do. That’s because your desk is where you really focus in on tasks, which means you should eliminate the distraction of clutter, according to Morgenstern. 

Plus, January 11 is National Clean Off Your Desk Day. A great way to celebrate is with a tidy, decluttered desk!


Similar to your desk, your computer desktop screen needs some sprucing up as well according to Hemphill and Morgenstern. Yes, this will keep you organized. Yet Morgenstern reminds us that once organized, you won’t be “afraid to share your screen.” Wise words in the age of Zoom presentations!


Once more, our experts both recommend tidying up your kitchen counters. You likely use them multiple times per day. And Morgenstern puts it beautifully when it comes to kitchen counters: “This is where you fuel your body, mind and soul, and when the kitchen counter is cluttered, we often end up avoiding eating healthy to get away from the mess.”

Morgenstern also adds cleaning off the bathroom counter to your must-do list. That’s because “it helps you start and end your day in a nurturing place where you can really practice good self care.”


Hemphill adds that we should clean off the family room coffee table. Her reasoning is that it’s one of the five areas that is probably full of papers. Her experience has taught her that paper can be a huge challenge because of “what the paper represents—intentions, commitments, legal issues, hopes and dreams.” 


Morgenstern’s advice to get started cleaning off these five surfaces? “Ask yourself, if all this was gone tomorrow…what would I miss?” She recommends that we pick out and keep things that we “really need, use, and love, and need access to everyday” before beginning the cleaning process, since we typically only use about 20 percent of our possessions. 

When it comes to papers, Hemphill tells us to remember FAT: File, Act or Toss. If you’re not sure what category a paper goes into, she says to ask: “‘What’s the worst possible thing that could happen if I didn’t have this piece of paper?’  If you can live with your answer, toss, recycle or shred it – and live more productively ever after!”


If you’re not sure how to get started, follow Morgenstern’s advice and pick the easiest place to clean first. Then, move on to other areas that might be more difficult. She says that could be the bedside table, followed by the bathroom, your desk, your computer’s desktop screen and then the kitchen counter. 


Getting more organized and productive doesn’t have to be impossible. Our experts’ tips on cleaning off these five surfaces will make for a more productive new year. 



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