Take a minute to quickly look around at everything on your desk or otherwise in front of you. How much of that stuff is actually helping you in your work? Probably not much of it, and that’s bad news for you.
Of course clutter is a common problem, and one that I certainly struggle with. We find ourselves clinging to old reports and documents that create unwieldy stacks of paper, knots within knots of power cables and wires, tools and objects we might want to use at some point but routinely do not. We surround ourselves with knick-knacks, or fill drawers and boxes with mementos from years past that remind us of moments when we were at our best. Why do we do this to ourselves and how does any of this build up into a real problem?
The fact is: anything around you that doesn’t help you work the way you want to or live life the way you imagine, is only getting in your way.
In his book, It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff, writer and professional organizer (yes, that’s a thing) Peter Walsh explains:
“Clutter is one of the biggest blocks to creativity there is. You cannot think creatively when you are overwhelmed with the tools or materials of your craft—it just doesn’t work that way.”
If you’re familiar with recent research on the subject of clutter and creativity, you may be scoffing at Walsh’s approach, as researchers have shown that clutter can help promote creative thinking by sparking ideas at random. But Walsh’s point remains strong: if what you’re surrounding yourself with is only junk, the ideas you come up with will only be reflective of it all.
Instead, we should actively find ways for de-junking our homes and work environments by throwing out or giving away anything that isn’t directly helping us live or work the way we want to. And that doesn’t mean simply trying to package everything into a box, drawer, or filing cabinet in another room or back of a closet. If it’s not helping you build and live the life you want, it’s got to go. Not only will you feel better about yourself and your live/work environment, you’ll find yourself better able to do the work you want to be doing.
I believe writer Merlin Mann said it best when he wrote:
“Organization is what you do to stuff that you need, want, or love — it’s not what you do to get useless stuff out of sight or to impart make believe meaning.”