Simplify to Increase Productivity

by Eva Marcotrigiano, YLS Futures Committee
(and OSB Quality of Life Committee Secretary)
Life has become quite complicated in today's age, significantly due to some of technology's byproducts - information overload and distractions galore. The sensations of being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start can be crippling, whether you are in the office or at home. Furthermore, there never seems to be enough time to get all of your work done, let alone time to do the things you enjoy most.

It may be time to simplify your life at work and at home. For those committed to such an endeavor, the rewards include increased effectiveness, improved relationships, and general sense of balance.

Unsure of where to start? Here are some quick, fairly easy ideas to implement:
  • Choose a designated place for your keys, cell phone, purse, computer bag, water bottle, etc. at home and at the office. Commit to using your chosen areas and you will stop wasting time looking for such easily misplaced items (because you were distracted by checking your email on your phone when you set your keys down, and now they are somewhere around here...).
  • Clear off your desk at work, your kitchen and bathroom counters, and your coffee table. While you may be used to seeing certain things there, ask yourself if it truly belongs there. Even if it does belong, visual clutter is distracting. On the days at work where I am unsure where to start, I take everything but the computer off of my desk (ok, I leave the tape and the stapler). Somehow, it makes determining what will be worked on first and then getting down to business more manageable.
  • Organize and plan out your day, week, and month. Determine ahead of time how you are going to spend your time - do not let the day's interruptions and distractions control you. Along the same lines, use to-do lists. Personally, I am a diehard Evernote fan (
  • Analyze your commitments and remove yourself from the ones that have become unnecessary or no longer rewarding. Use that time to spend reconnecting with your true friends - you know, the ones you value so much, who are so dear to your heart, and yet you have not connected with them in six months ... or longer.

For more information on simplifying to regain time and productivity, resources are available in every format, from books to podcasts to blogs. Examples include: Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life and Never Check Email in the Morning (; Simple Living - 30 days to less stuff and more life (; Get it Done Guy - Quick and Dirty Tips to Work Less and Do More (

Good luck on your path back to productivity. In the words of Thoreau: "It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all encumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real."