So, this has been one of my long-standing favorite efficiency/productivity/organization rules of all time! It’s called… you guessed it… Clear to Neutral! The cool thing about this rule is that it’s just so simple. And once you begin to notice and practice it, it basically becomes a habit! Not only that, but it is super helpful across all areas of life, not just studying! I think I started this in 2012 when I was having a really hard time making myself do schoolwork and I couldn’t figure out why. The answer? FRICTION.
|This was the closest thing I had to a messy picture. Not because my home is never messy… but because I’m definitely not going around photographing it when it is!|
Friction is anything that you have to do before the thing you need to do. Confusing, yes? But I promise, you know exactly what I’m talking about: Let’s say that you want to study, you go wherever it is that you study but it’s covered in junk that you have to move before you can even begin! Or in the morning, I may want to clean my home but what if I have to put away things that were left out overnight? I’m less likely to get to the ACTUAL cleaning because I have to do yesterday’s work first.
And yesterday’s work = Friction.
|Clearing my Living Room to Neutral means putting away any glasses, schoolwork, bedroom pillows, shoes etc. so that I don’t wake up to things already out of place.|
And guess what? Friction is a huge contributor to procrastination! And who doesn’t hate procrastination?! So, how can we overcome this and free ourselves of excuses?! That is where Clear to Neutral comes in! The basic idea of this is to leave every space exactly the way you want to find it!
|Clearing my closet to Neutral (the hardest) means putting away all jewelry, purses, shoes, dirty clothes in their bag, and hanging up all clean clothes.|
For example, I want to easily be able to edit my research paper the next time that I open my computer. In order to do this, I need to save it to a place where I can quickly find it, with a name that I will quickly recognize, and I need to close all of the other open windows or unnamed documents on my computer so that I don’t have to do it next time! Otherwise, they will create friction between me and my schoolwork. And I definitely don’t want that!
|Clearing my schoolwork to Neutral means putting every paper back in its appropriate section in every notebook. Then putting all of those notebooks back where they belong.|
Now, whenever I reach a stopping place on a paper/project, I save it and put it in its appropriate folder. I make sure that I put every note from my schoolwork into its appropriate section of my notebook before closing it. That way, when I’m ready to study the next time, I don’t have to look for it or reorganize my notebook. I’ve already done that! I just flip to the correct section, grab my notes, and start! And do a bunch of documents/photos saved on your desktop count as friction? Um… absolutely.
|Clearing my office supplies to Neutral means putting every marker, pencil, paper clip, etc. back into its designated container in my “office space”.|
Once you get used to looking for it, you’ll realize that friction can literally be all around us! How about our purses? Holy Chicago! That’s like the Mecca of all friction! Closets? Do you have to pick up a bunch of clothes before you can do laundry or choose an outfit for tonight? Bathroom? What if you have to throw away a bunch of old or empty bottles before you can even spray down the bathtub and counter? Cars? Nope. Definitely no problem with friction in my car (#sarcasm).
|Clearing my “office space” to Neutral means putting all office supplies away, updating all to-do lists and calendars to reflect the progress I made during my latest work session.|
Today, go through your day leaving everything the way you want to find it! :)
Have you ever heard of Clear to Neutral? Do you think it could help you become more productive in your daily life? Or are you already using a similar system?