Here’s a question to think about: how can you live a more intentional life?
Lately, one of the ways I’ve been answering that question is by only owning things I know I’ll use.
If you’re anything like (the old) me, you have a drawer full of random stuff you’re not sure you’re going to use again. A box of worn-out shoes is shoved under your bed, and a few old costumes live in the back of your closet. And your computer files . . . well, let’s just say the only way to find a file is to search for it.
Recently, I got fed up with the clutter in my daily life. So I did something about it. I’m all about living a life with intention, and that means getting rid of unimportant junk and keeping the good stuff. So, I had what I call a Productivity Day.
What is a Productivity Day?
A productivity day is a day to get your life together and pick up what fell behind during the week like all of those pesky chores, errands and maintenance things that need to get done. You’ve needed your oil changed for two months? This is your day to get it done. You have a few old phones, cords, or laptops hanging around? It’s time to say goodbye. Are your important documents (birth certificate, pay stubs, etc.) scattered throughout your home? Time to fix that, too.
A Productivity Day allows you to get your Shhh together so you can live a simpler, better life.
Related read: 21 ways to simplify your life
How To Have A Productivity Day
Schedule a Day
To get you started, I’d recommend giving yourself an entire day for this. Depending on how much you prepped beforehand, there’s a fair chance that you’ll have a heavy load on your shoulders.
Because of that, it’s a good idea to schedule this day into your calendar. Distractions are bound to come up. Friends will want to hang out. Netflix will beg you to stay on the couch for hours. Making a commitment to scheduling your Productivity Day will help you be motivated when it finally comes around.
If you have an open weekday, I’d do it then just because you’ll have less traffic and people to deal with. But if a weekend is your only option, that’ll work too. You’ll just have a few obstacles.
How to Prep
As I’m sure you’ve realized by now, this day is going to be intense. If you have a lot to go through, consider prepping for it during the week beforehand. But where to start?
- Go through your clothes – Take 15-30 minutes each day and purge your closet/dresser. If you haven’t worn it, you shouldn’t keep it.
- Find out what supplies you’ll need – I desperately needed a file organizer. I found an inexpensive one at Walmart. They also had cheap filing cabinets if that’s what you need.
- Schedule an appointment for your car – I wouldn’t recommend getting it inspected on your Productivity Day (you might end up being without a car all day). But an oil change usually takes 45 minutes tops, and I got mine done at Walmart and grocery shopped while I waited.
- Scour your house for old electronics – I kept all of my smaller gadgets + cords in a box under my bed, so this was fairly easy for me. And you know what? I kept a fifth of what was in that box. The rest I hauled off to Staples.
- Go through your cabinets – If you have old containers, dishes, or gadgets that you don’t use, leave a box in an out-of-the-way spot in your kitchen. While you’re preparing your meals, grab the stuff you don’t use and throw it into the box.
- Clean out your car – If you’re going to be hauling your old belongings from donation center to donation center, you’re going to need room. Besides, cleaning out your car should be something we all do on a regular basis.
Related read: 21 Sunday habits for a productive week
Where Should You Drop Off Your Stuff?
If you need to drop things off at more than one location, then packing everything in multiple boxes will make the drop-off section of your day easier. So figure out how many places you need to go. Thankfully, I only had to go to three places (Salvation Army, Staples, and a local representative’s office).
For old clothes, household items, furniture, books, etc., Goodwill or the Salvation Army will do.
For old medicine, you can either safely dispose of them at home or find a center that will take them back.
For old electronics, Best Buy and Staples usually have drop-off programs. I went to Staples and got rewards points for recycling my old cords, phones, and laptops with them!
For old license plates, AAA centers will take them (for a fee). I dropped mine off at a state representative’s office for free.
Have stuff that’s too big to fit into your car? Look into scheduling a pickup with Salvation Army or sell it on Craigslist.
Organizing Your Documents + Papers
This is for all of those papers you’re afraid to throw out. Keeping pay stubs is annoying, but it’s a good idea in case the IRS wants to take a look at them. If you like keeping track of your car repair history (because who can afford a car that won’t break down these days?), your bank statements, or any investments you have, getting a file organizer or a cabinet would be a good idea.
I used a cardboard box for years, but let me tell you: it was disorganized, ugly, and never did me any good. Now all of my pay stubs, insurance papers, manuals, etc. are nicely separated and easy to find.
Pro Tip: Shred any sensitive papers that you don’t need and keep all of your identification papers locked away in a safe.
Organizing Your Computer Documents + Files
You log onto your computer, ready to finish that paper you started last week. But when you go to find it, you have to sort through document after document before finally giving up and using the search option.
- Organize your documents – If you’re in school, have a separate folder for all of your research, papers, etc. Sort them all by school years instead of business years. Organize the rest by category – creative writing, blogging, resumes, journal entries, etc.
- Organize your pictures – Your pictures library can get messy fast. To make your life easier, add a few keywords to your files when you upload them. Something like “February Football Game” or “Summer Walk with Julie.” Then organize them by year and month.
Tips for Dropping Your Stuff off at Donation Centers
For an introvert like me, the last thing I want to do is hand people my old stuff. It’s weird and embarrassing. So here are a few tips to ease the process:
- Head to the first sales associate you find – If you’re walking into some place like Staples, find the first available person you can. Just ask them if they accept old electronics, and they’ll guide you through the process.
- Check the hours – donation centers aren’t open all day, and they’re often closed on weekends. Check their hours online (or call them) to see when they’re open.
- Organize your car – If you’re headed to five different places, figure out where you’re going first. Then put the first box you’ll need closest to the door, and the second box you’ll need next to that, etc. That way you’re not rummaging through your car—and you won’t miss anything.
- Be nice – At one of the donation centers I went to, I watched the guy in charge interact with the guy in front of me. They both treated each other like they didn’t want to be there (which, I mean, that’s fair). But when it was my turn, I treated the guy taking my stuff super nicely. And you know what? He was nice to me, too.
- Pack water + snacks – This is going to take a while. Make sure you’re prepared. Fill up your reusable water bottle and grab some trail mix to sustain yourself while you’re driving around town.
Catching up on Cleaning/Laundry
Laundry. No one likes it, but everyone has to do it. Here’s what I did:
First thing, I threw my clothes in the washer. Then I ate breakfast and gathered all of my old stuff into my car. By the time I was ready to go, my clothes were done. So I popped them into the dryer and left!
If you have more than one load you need done, it won’t be as simple as that. Look at your day and figure out how to best get your laundry done. You’ll probably be able to do more after you drop stuff off.
As for random cleaning you need done, focus on one area and make it look perfect. Take a break in between each task. Don’t burn yourself out!
A Productivity Day isn’t easy to execute. Depending on how many places/people you have to deal with, it can be quite frustrating.
Go to your favorite restaurant. Get Starbucks. Buy yourself some really nice chocolate. Do what makes you feel good. But whatever you do, don’t buy more stuff you’ll want to get rid of in two weeks!
A Productivity Day is an effective way to get all of those pesky tasks out of the way in one day. While they’re good to have every once in a while, remember this simple tip – the more intentional you are about the stuff you bring into your home, the less you’ll have to get rid of.
- 11 simple habits of highly productive people
- How to use task batching for maximum productivity
- 13 healthy habits that will change your life
It’s as simple as that. Have you had your own version of a Productivity Day? Comment below with your own tips!
Author Bio: Rebekah Joan is a twenty-something lifestyle blogger + freelance writer. She’s all about turning life into an intentional journey, one little step at a time. Follow along at www.rebekah-joan.com for a life full of love, intention, and all things lovely.