Clutter. We all have it (even me, a professional organizer). But clutter shouldn’t be seen as a dirty word.
I prefer to see it more as a conversation starter. Instead of beating yourself up for having it, try asking yourself why you have accumulated some stuff, is it affecting you, and would you like to do something about it? Not everyone minds a mess and some folks are perfectly fine working amidst a little chaos; I am one of those folks (although formerly, I would procrastinate by cleaning and organizing my immediate space before starting a project). And even though I can create while surrounded by clutter, it’s important to note that at the end of the day, everything has a home. And, like I mentioned before, some folks are able to clear the piles of stuff before they can begin any work, but for a lot of folks, that’s not an option.
The types of projects I get called in to fix are rooms and closets that have accumulated months or years of clutter. Clients aren’t always the best at making time to deal with disorganization and often don’t know where to start. It’s important to note that digital clutter (example: an overstuffed email inbox) is just as paralyzing as physical clutter. And it’s not that clients aren’t getting work done before they call in a pro, it’s that they’re not achieving their best work. Phrases repeated to me over and over: I’m missing out on opportunities, I’m not being as efficient as possible, I get interrupted constantly and therefore can’t create as much as I’d like…
And even though I can create while surrounded by clutter, it’s important to note that at the end of the day, everything has a home.
It’s of the utmost importance to create a space that you can work in every day. A space that supports you and your goals and contains the things you use on a daily basis, but not much else. Even if you are able to locate that important document amidst the piles at a moments notice, would an employee or co-worker? In the words of Marie Kondo, “The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don’t .”
A good way to start decluttering is to take a picture of your desktop.
Notice everything on the desk and ask yourself, is it necessary? What if it were removed? Would I still be able to get work done? Continue into the desk drawer, the bulletin board, the office closet, the bookcase—leave no area untouched.
Once the unnecessary is cleared, maintenance is key. And know that there will be a week or two where things get nutty again due to work overload, holidays, travel and the like. As long as you are consistent in your efforts, you will be rewarded greatly.
My favorite ways to keep major clutter at bay:
Turn off notifications on your computer and phone (again, distractions are the worst when it comes to creating). Plus, it’s so much nicer to put on a Spotify playlist and not worry about email or phone calls for extended chunks of time.
Plan the day before for the day ahead Create your to-do list for the next day. Look at your calendar for the week and plan ahead so you don’t miss a thing!
Clean up Before shutting down each day, reset your desk. Toss, shred and recycle; return items to their homes and get rid of whatever you no longer need.
A little maintenance each day goes a long way in keeping your surroundings calm and your mind free to cultivate and get creative.