Chatty Cathy clutter distracting you from your daily to-do’s? Does it talk to you? Does it scream at you, “Look at me, Fix me, Pay attention TO ME!”?
Never mind that clutter makes it difficult to do just about anything – from finding your keys to get to that client meeting or school pick on time to keeping track of the notes you scribbled on that scrap of paper in last week’s meeting. Just the presence of extra stuff in your office, on your desk, in your daily path slows you down.
The reason is simple.
Perhaps you have developed the Zen-like ability to resist the temptation to fix it right then and there, it’s still talking to you, filling up your mind with yet another thing to worry about. It calls out to you, reminding you to add it to your mental inventory.
There’s a reason you find it easier to concentrate in a noisy coffee shop or sitting on your porch – no clutter. And no clutter means no clutter noise distracting you from the task in front of you or draining you of your creative energy.
Sources of Clutter Chatter (and How to Shut Them Up)
#1: Unopened Mail – Even something as simple as a pile of unopened mail is a source of clutter chatter. “Gee, I wonder if my current telephone bill is in that stack? Hmm…I wonder if that long distance marathon with that potential client pushed me over my monthly limit?”
Go with an “Out of sight, out of mind” policy and designate a spot to store unopened mail. Don’t forget to schedule time in your calendar to sort and process your mail. The purpose isn’t to forget things – just to quiet them down until you can deal with them.
#2: Piles of Paper – Oh those piles of paper! How we love to create them, shuffle them, anything, but file them away! Just as unopened mail talks to us, those piles of paper remind us of all the stuff we have to do.
Adhere to a strict policy of only having the files and paperwork you are currently working on out on your desk. Everything else is filed in the relevant folder until you need it.
#3: Sticky Notes – Do you love to jot down your ideas on a sticky note? It doesn’t take too many creative sessions before your workspace is the sticky note idea parade.
Because creative ideas can be a source of distracting chatter, it’s best to file them away until you are prepared to deal with them. Create an “Idea Management System” or stick them in a notebook until you have time to review them.
#4: Miscellaneous Desk Jumble – Why is it that your desk is the dumping ground for every miscellaneous household item that doesn’t have a home? Clutter attracts other clutter and before you know it, you have 6 crayons, a granola bar, an elephant and bathroom paint samples all vying for your attention.
A simple way to stop the jumble from landing on your desk is to keep your desk clutter-free. Designate an outbox for anything and everything that doesn’t belong on your desk and simply deposit what doesn’t belong there until you have time to properly put things away.
#5: Broken Stuff – Even if it’s something that belongs on your desk, consider removing it if it’s broken and awaiting repair. Why? Because it’s likely going to bug you every time you look at it.
If you are truly committed to fixing it, create a place to store items to be fixed. If you know you aren’t one to do it yourself, be honest and get them in the hands of someone who will fix it for you.
Note: Whatever you do, do NOT use decluttering your office as an excuse to not get priority tasks done! Decluttering and maintaining a clutter-free environment is a foundational task that should be address prior to starting your week, preferably on a Friday before closing down for the weekend.