Can a Clean Desk Really Boost Your Productivity at Work?

By Julia Malacoff
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January is all about fresh starts and taking the time to accomplish things you didn’t get the chance to do last year-like maybe finally dealing with your messy, cluttered desk at the office. In honor of National Clean Off Your Desk Day today (yep, that’s real), we decided to find out: How important is it really to your productivity and quality of work to have a clean and orderly desk situation? Does a cluttered desk actually equal a cluttered mind? (BTW, these nine “time-wasters” are actually productive.)

Are You a Minimalist or a Messy Worker?

Research on the topic is somewhat conflicting. While studies have shown that a messy desk can encourage creativity and even increase productivity, research also acknowledges that for more precise, detail-oriented work, an organized work space is much more beneficial. Your preference for messy or clean may also come down to personality, says Jeni Aron, professional organizer and founder of Clutter Cowgirl in NYC. “A desk is a highly personal environment,” says Aron. “Some people LOVE having many materials on their desk at all times; it makes them feel alive and connected to their work.”

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Often writers, artists, and academics enjoy this kind of environment because their notes and papers can actually spark new ideas. The problem, though, is when a person starts to feel unproductive because of their desk area. “Unfinished projects and missed deadlines are two indicators of not having a productive office environment,” she says. So basically, ask yourself if your work is suffering or you feel overwhelmed despite a reasonable scheduele. It could be that pile of notepads, boxes, or other stuff piling up on and around your desk. (One writer stopped multitasking for an entire week to see if it improved her productivity. Find out.)

Another important thing to consider? The vibe your desk is giving off to everyone else in your office. “Presenting yourself as an organized, confident, and together person is obviously quite crucial in an office dynamic,” says Aron. “It is also physically challenging to have meetings in a cluttered office. People might not feel relaxed or at the peak of their performance when their eyes are darting everywhere seeing your mess with nowhere to set down even a cup of coffee.” You want your coworkers, and especially your boss, to know you have it together-even if your desk is a hot mess.

How to Organize Your Work Space

On the other hand, it’s sometimes less important that your desk is organized than it is that your actual work is organized. “Having an organized work space is important, but what’s even more important is tailoring the organization of your work space to the organization of your work,” says Dan Lee, director at NextDesk, a maker of power adjustable desks. He suggests thinking about the way you successfully get things done and the tools that make you feel most productive before tackling any desk reorganization project. For example, “If you never use paper notebooks or printouts, why are they taking up valuable desk real estate?” he says. Instead, focus on making sure you have the tools you need to actually make progress, since that’s much more important than how your desk looks aesthetically. Aron agrees, noting that “having the ability to set up a system that works for who you are now-whether you’re a pile person or a file person-will encourage you to go through each day in a systematic and orderly way.” And that’s what really matters, right? As long as you’re getting your work done to the best of your ability, you should be free to choose whatever organizational system (or lack thereof) that you want. (Here, read up on the physical and mental health benefits of organization.)

According to Lee, there are two approaches you can take to reorganizing your work life. “One is the idea of doing a single-day deep clean, where you set aside a whole day (or at least an afternoon) to take everything off your desk and out of your drawers, clean all the surfaces, and put things back in an organized fashion,” he says. This might not be possible or practical for everyone, especially if you have a really hectic work schedule, so the other approach is more gradual. “Take 10 minutes at the start or end of each workday to toss unneeded papers, wipe down any crumbs or coffee rings, and put office supplies back where they belong,” he suggests.

Aron suggests taking your daily social media time (approximately 50 minutes for the average American-and that’s just on Facebook) and dedicating that time to your office clutter instead. The first step is to sit and decide how you would like to feel in your office, whether that’s at home or at work, she says. “Productive? Relaxed? Energized? You can use this feeling as your guideline for how to drive yourself toward making decisions about your stuff.” And instead of blocking off an entire weekend or day to get it done, schedule 30- to 60-minute intervals a couple of times a week until you get your space how you want. (Now that your desk is all set, you might want to get a head start on all that spring cleaning with these simple ways to declutter your life.)

Top Renovations for Maximum ROI

Top Renovations for Maximum ROI [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • If you’re planning on selling your house in 2020, these are the top renovations that will give you the highest Return on your Investment.
  • Regardless of how long you’re planning on staying in your current home, it’s smart to be aware of which home renovations add the most value.
  • The exterior of a house is the first thing buyers see when searching for a home. Upgrading your roof or siding will ensure your home leaves a great first impression!

The 2020 Real Estate Projections That May Surprise You

The 2020 Real Estate Projections That May Surprise You | MyKCM

This will be an interesting year for residential real estate. With a presidential election taking place this fall and talk of a possible recession occurring before the end of the year, predicting what will happen in the 2020 U.S. housing market can be challenging. As a result, looking at 2020 Real Estate Projections from the most trusted entities in the industry when it comes to mortgage rateshome sales, and home prices is incredibly valuable – and they may surprise you.

Mortgage Rates

2020 Real Estate Projections from the experts at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac all forecast mortgage rates remaining stable throughout 2020:The 2020 Real Estate Projections That May Surprise You | MyKCMSince rates have remained under 5% for the last decade, we may not fully realize the opportunity we have right now.

Here are the average mortgage interest rates over the last several decades:

  • 1970s: 8.86%
  • 1980s: 12.70%
  • 1990s: 8.12%
  • 2000s: 6.29%

Home Sales

Three of the four expert groups noted above also predict an increase in home sales in 2020, and the fourth sees the transaction number remaining stable:The 2020 Real Estate Projections That May Surprise You | MyKCMWith mortgage rates remaining near all-time lows, demand should not be a challenge. The lack of available inventory, however, may moderate the increase in sales.

Home Prices

Below are the 2020 Real Estate Projections from six different expert entities that look closely at home values: CoreLogicFannie Mae, Ivy Zelman’s “Z Report”, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Freddie Mac, and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).The 2020 Real Estate Projections That May Surprise You | MyKCMEach group has home values continuing to improve through 2020, with four of them seeing price appreciation increasing at a greater pace than it did in 2019.

Is a Recession Possible?

In early 2019, a large percentage of economists began predicting a recession may occur in 2020. In addition, a recent survey of potential home purchasers showed that over 50% agreed it would occur this year. The economy, however, remained strong in the fourth quarter, and that has caused many to rethink the possibility.

For example, Goldman Sachs, in their 2020 U.S. Outlook, explained:

“Markets sounded the recession alarm this year, and the average forecaster now sees a 33% chance of recession over the next year. In contrast, our new recession model suggests just a 20% probability. Despite the record age of the expansion, the usual late-cycle problems—inflationary overheating and financial imbalances—do not look threatening.”

Bottom Line 2020 Real Estate Projections

Mortgage rates are projected to remain under 4%, causing sales to increase in 2020. With growing demand and a limited supply of inventory, prices will continue to appreciate, while the threat of an impending recession seems to be softening. It looks like 2020 may be a solid year for the real estate market.

2020 Forecast Shows Continued Home Price Appreciation

2020 Forecast Shows Continued Home Price Appreciation | MyKCM

Questions continue to rise around where home prices will head in 2020. The latest forecast from CoreLogic shows continued appreciation at 5.4% over the next year:2020 Forecast Shows Continued Home Price Appreciation | MyKCMAdditionally, ARCH Mortgage Insurance Company in their current Housing and Mortgage Market Review revealed their latest ARCH Risk Index, which estimates the probability of home prices being lower in two years. Based on the most recent results, 32 of the 50 U.S. states (plus D.C.) had a minimal probability of lowering by 2021.2020 Forecast Shows Continued Home Price Appreciation | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • Interest rates will be lower than they have been since before 1980 at 3.8% and are projected to remain steady throughout 2020!
  • According to CoreLogic, home prices will appreciate at a rate of 5.4% over the course of the year.
  • Experts predict that the number of homes sold next year will be equal to or outpace 2019.

Bottom Line

Experts forecast home price appreciation to continue at a moderate rate as we move through 2020 and beyond. With appreciation growing, let’s get together and plan for your next move.

Year-Over-Year Rental Prices on the Rise

Year-Over-Year Rental Prices on the Rise | MyKCM

Looking ahead, 2020 is projected to be a strong year for homeownership. According to the Freddie Mac Forecast,

“We expect rates to remain low, falling to a yearly average of 3.8% in 2020.”

If you’re currently renting, 2020 may be a great time to think about making a jump into homeownership while mortgage rates are low.

As noted in the National Rent Report,

the national rent index increased by 1.4 percent year-over-year.”

With average rents on the rise, this year-over-year increase may not sound like much, but it can add up – fast. The math on how much extra it will cost you over time surely doesn’t lie.

Here’s an example: On a $1,500 rental payment, an increase of 1.4% adds an additional $21 dollars per month to your payment. When multiplied by the twelve months in a year, it’s a $252 overall annual increase. The price continues to multiply when you rent year after year, as rental prices rise.

History shows how average rental prices have been increasing each year, and there doesn’t seem to be much end in sight. Here’s a look at how rents have grown since 2012 alone:Year-Over-Year Rental Prices on the Rise | MyKCMWhy not lock down your monthly housing expense, and at the same time build additional net worth for you and your family? If you’re thinking about buying a home, consider the financial benefits of what homeownership can do for you, especially while the market conditions are strong and current mortgage rates are low.

Bottom Line

With average rents continuing to rise, now may be a great time to stabilize your monthly payment by becoming a homeowner and locking into a low mortgage rate. Let’s get together to discuss how taking advantage of the current market conditions might work for you.

there’s a large pool of buyers out there searching for the American dream, and your home may be high on their wish list.

Have You Outgrown Your Home?

It may seem hard to imagine that the home you’re in today – whether it’s your starter home or just one you’ve fallen in love with along the way – might not be your forever home.

The good news is, it’s okay to admit if your house no longer fits your needs.

According to the latest Home Price Insights from CoreLogic, prices have appreciated 3.5% year-over-year. At the same time, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports inventory has dropped 4.3% from one year ago.Have You Outgrown Your Home? | MyKCMThese two statistics are directly related to one another. As inventory has decreased and demand has increased, prices have been driven up.

This is great news if you own a home and are thinking about selling. The equity in your house has likely risen as prices have increased. Even better is the fact that there’s a large pool of buyers out there searching for the American dream, and your home may be high on their wish list.

Bottom Line

If you think you’ve outgrown your home, let’s get together to discuss local market conditions and determine if now is the best time for you to sell.

There are first-time, move-up, and move-down buyers actively looking for the home of their dreams this winter.

Holiday Gifts Are Not the Only Hot Things Right Now

Black Friday is behind us and hot holiday gifts are flying off the shelves in stores and online. Unlike last year, however, there’s another type of buyer that is very active this winter – the homebuyer.

Each month, ShowingTime releases their Showing Index, which tracks the average number of appointments received on active U.S. house listings. The latest index revealed just how hot real estate is:

“Traffic was more active once again compared to 2018, as the nation saw its third straight month of higher year-over-year showing activity…The 5.5% increase in showings nationwide was the largest jump in activity during the now three-month streak of year-over-year increases vs. 2018.”

The same report indicates showings increased in every region of the country:

  • The South increased by 10.8%
  • The West increased by 8.6%
  • The Northeast increased by 3.8%
  • The Midwest increased by 1.5%

Why is the traffic more active?

One of the main reasons buyer traffic is hot and has increased year-over-year is that mortgage rates have fallen dramatically. According to Freddie Mac, the average mortgage rate last December was 4.64%. Today, the rate is almost a full percentage point lower!

Bottom Line

There are first-time, move-up, and move-down buyers actively looking for the home of their dreams this winter. If you’re thinking of selling your house in 2020, you don’t need to wait until the spring to do it. Your potential buyer may be searching for a home in your neighborhood right now.

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling a Home in 2020

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling a Home in 2020

It’s exciting to put a house on the market and to think about making new memories in new spaces, but we can have deep sentimental attachments to the homes we’re leaving behind, too. Growing emotions can help or hinder a sale, depending on how we manage them.

When it comes to the bottom line, homeowners need to know what it takes to avoid costly mistakes. Being mindful of these things and prepared for the process can help you avoid some of the most common mishaps when selling your house.

1. Overpricing Your Home

When inventory is low, like it is in the current market, it’s common to think buyers will pay whatever we ask for when we price our homes. Believe it or not, that’s far from the truth. Don’t forget that the buyer’s bank will send an appraisal to determine the fair value for your home. The bank will not lend more than what the house is worth, so be mindful that you might need to renegotiate the price after the appraisal. A real estate professional will help you to set the true value of your home.

2. Letting Your Emotions Interfere with the Sale

Today, most homeowners have been living in their houses for an average of 10 years (as shown in the graph below):3 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling a Home in 2020 | MyKCMThis is several years longer than what used to be the norm, since many homeowners have been recouping from negative equity situations over the past 10 years. The side effect, however, is when you live for so long in one place, you may get even more emotionally attached to your space. If it’s the first home you bought after you got married or the house where your children grew up, it very likely means something extra special to you. Every room has memories and it’s hard to detach from the sentimental value.

For some homeowners, that makes it even harder to negotiate, separating the emotional value of the home from the fair market price. That’s why you need a real estate professional to help you with the negotiations in the process.

3. Not Staging Your Home

We’re generally quite proud of our décor and how we’ve customized our houses to make them our own personalized homes, but not all buyers will feel the same way about your design. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you stage your home with the buyer in mind. Buyers want to envision themselves in the space, so it truly feels like their own. They need to see themselves in the space with their furniture and keepsakes – not your pictures and decorations. Stage and declutter your home so they can visualize their own dreams as they walk through your house. A real estate professional can help you with tips to get your home ready to stage and sell.

Bottom Line

Today’s seller’s market might be your best chance to make a move. If you’re considering selling your house, let’s get together to help you navigate through the process while avoiding common seller mistakes.