Skip navigation

How to declutter your way to career success


LAST UPDATED: 07 March, 2024

So you've decided this will be the year you find a new job, change your career and start earning the kind of money you deserve.

If you have a really big goal in your sights, the best way to begin is to get rid of the old habits, patterns and physical clutter that are holding you back.

There is a lot more to decluttering than simply getting organised. It can make you happier, more productive and best of all it will free up space for the important things you want to achieve.

1. Clear the physical clutter

It might sound unlikely that clearing out your physical environment can free you up mentally to make changes and attract more prosperity, but I can tell you from personal experience that it really does work.

There is proof that letting go of physical ‘stuff' is empowering because it lays the groundwork for inner renewal, creating space for new opportunities. Declutter any items you associate with career unhappiness, maybe a job that made you miserable or items relating to past failures.

Pay particular attention to your work wardrobe and get rid of anything that feels like the ‘old' version of you. If you've been unhappy in your job for a while, it's a sure bet that your wardrobe doesn't jibe with who you want to be. Which outfits make you feel happy and successful? If you want to start wearing velvet jackets and loafers give yourself permission to do that. You don't have to go and spend loads of money on a new wardrobe. Think of small ways you can make your desired changes.

2. Declutter old beliefs and patterns

One of the most important decluttering exercises you can do is to examine any old beliefs that no longer serve you. For example, if you feel stuck in your current role and you want to take on more responsibility, take an honest look at where you're stopping yourself. Maybe you feel stuck because you think you need to do a course, when the simplest approach might be to ask your manager if you can take on more higher level projects.

Whatever your beliefs about your abilities and experience be honest and ask yourself: Is this really true? Forgive your past failures and make an effort to face your fears so that you can move ahead with confidence. If you find yourself in a negative spiral about your career prospects, practice replacing those thoughts with a new mantra such as: I am creative and full of enthusiasm for my new career.

3. Declutter your work schedule

Like many people I used to be a slave to my to-do list. I would start my day as if I was going into battle, with each task taking equal priority. The trouble with this approach is that it's often reactive and it doesn't help you achieve your big picture goals. It can also lead to underperformance and that feeling of being ‘stuck'.

Review your current work schedule and ask yourself: What do I need to let go of to achieve my goals? Free up that calendar for more fulfilling projects and remind yourself you don't need to be a slave to your schedule. When you are planning out your year, put the bigger projects on first and fit everything else around your priorities.

If you are changing careers this year or looking for a new job, prioritise the things you need to do to make this happen, whether it's updating your resume or making time to network.

 4. Your physical & digital workspace

Your work environment has a huge impact on your career success. Are you excited to get to work in the morning? Or do you have an immediate stress out because you can't find the document you need under a bunch of overflowing files? Having a mess on your desk is not conducive to career success. You need a clear workspace to do your best work.

Perhaps the most important element to declutter is your digital environment. How many email newsletters are clogging up your inbox? Do you have a system for dealing with emails?

Here are a few important changes I've made together with some magic apps to help you get organised and declutter your computer and phone:

  • Unrollme is a godsend for newsletter overwhelm
  • Wunderlist will help you keep on top of project deadlines
  • Challenge yourself to write and respond to emails in under 3 minutes
  • Respond to emails in batches where possible — once or twice a day
  • Use autoresponders when you're working on urgent or time-consuming projects
  • Turn off social media alerts and
  • (Brace yourself) pick up the phone once in a while instead of sending an email.

My advice for digital decluttering is: Consume less content. Write shorter emails. Send fewer of them. Respect your time as well as other people's and you will be rewarded with less stress and the space to create more success in your life.

What do you want to declutter this year?