How often do you feel stressed looking at papers piled on your desk, browsing through hundreds (and for many people, thousands!) of emails, or searching for your glasses, a book, a form, or a piece of equipment?

Your ability to accomplish any task or goal is directly related to your ability to find what you need when you need it – and that ability is essential to any organization in order to accomplish its mission, serve its customers, minimize legal risks, and reduce overhead costs. In other words, good business requires what I call a “Productive Environment™” – an intentional setting in which everyone can accomplish their work and enjoy their lives.

While current economic conditions require organizations to do “more with less” and technology rushes forward, individuals are overwhelmed with “too much” – of everything – email, paper, projects, meetings, and interruptions. So what can you do to overcome these obstacles? The first step is eliminating physical, digital, and “systems” clutter.

While offices are cluttered with paper, and our computers with electronic files, other types of clutter, such as unused office supplies and outdated equipment, also cost money and take up precious real estate. And then there are those unidentified business cards you collected at networking events months, even years ago, and the mustard packets from the take-out that are how old?

Because most people have never been given a process for eliminating the clutter in their lives, and unless they are “born organized,” were brought up in a family where it was role-modeled, or worked with someone who taught them, they are left to their own devices – which rarely works.

So that explains “physical and digital clutter,” but what is “systems clutter?” A little girl observed her mommy cutting the end off of the ham before she put it in the oven. “Why do you cut off the end of the ham, Mommy?” she asked. “I don’t know,” her mother replied. “Go ask Grandma. That’s what she always did.” The little girl ran to her grandmother and asked the question. Her grandmother replied, “Oh, honey! I didn’t have a pan big enough for the whole ham so I cut off the ends so it would fit!”

How many systems are you holding onto that are not contributing to a profitable, sustainable business?

Few employees are willing to take the risk of getting rid of something for fear someone else – especially the boss – might want it. Besides, it’s boring work, and they have “real work” to do! So here are four simple questions to ask yourself in order to make your office a more productive environment.

Is this item helping me accomplish my work or enjoy my life?

Who else might find this item valuable?

What’s the worst possible thing that would happen if I didn’t have it?

If I got rid of it, and I was wrong, could I live with the consequences?

So here’s my challenge for you! It’s always easy to see what other people need to do to make their workspace more productive, but how productive is your environment? Let’s find out! Click this link- to get your Productive Environment Score™ now.

And if you’re the boss, be sure to ask about our “Productive Environment Day™” — a one-day event educating and empowering all your employees to make your office a “Productive Environment™” which truly reflects the quality of your products and services, and where everyone can accomplish their work and enjoy their lives!

This article also appeared in the blog of our friends at Stress Management Tools-

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Author's Bio: 

In 1978, Barbara took out a $7 ad in a New York City newspaper to advertise her professional organizer business. For 20 years, she focused her business on organizing paper and physical clutter for home offices and organizations. Then the Internet Age came about, and she utilized her principles and expertise to help clients with digital clutter.

Over the past 40+ years Barbara has helped 1000's of companies, and became an icon and top expert in the industry. She has been featured on national media platforms such as Good Morning America, The Today Show and CNN Nightly News. She has also been showcased in publications including USA Today, New York Times, Fast Company, Reader’s Digest, Real Simple and Guideposts.

Barbara and her team teach business owners a 9-step system to go from overwhelmed to optimized. Step 1 is a free Assessment that can be found at