How many of us have too much to do, too many commitments, too much information, too much…you name it —it’s all too much! In fact, that’s the title of one of my favorite books by the decluttering guru, Peter Walsh: It’s All Too Much, An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less. But the current decluttering boom isn’t just about clearing your physical space, it’s about clearing your mental space, too. And I’m here to tell you that it’s only after you clear both your physical and mental space that you can produce the clear, concise communication that the business world craves.
The bottom line is that when your physical world is cluttered with, well, junk, and your mental space is teaming with way too many commitments, your thinking tends to become cluttered and murky, too. This is exactly the opposite state of mind needed to write clearly and concisely, and clear, concise, direct writing is the foundation of superior business communication.
What I’ve learned from my own massive decluttering efforts is that it does take upfront time and energy—but it is incredibly rewarding and smooths your path forward like nothing else. There is near instant gratification from decluttering that just keeps on giving…and rewarding us with clarity.
In this post, let’s tackle decluttering your literal and virtual workspaces. I’m not recommending that you cease producing work until you’ve decluttered and stream-lined your entire life, but I do recommend that you set aside some time each day for decluttering efforts, starting with your literal desk and your virtual desktop. Here’s one tip for decluttering each:
1. If your desktop is overrun with papers, like mine tends to be, set aside some time to cull them to the bare minimum. I’m not a fan of setting a timer and allowing myself only a few minutes (timers make me nervous!), I’d rather choose one pile of papers and take as long as necessary to discard every paper that I don’t absolutely need—be ruthless, here—and organize the rest into attractive folders stored neatly in a filing cabinet. Repeat as many times as necessary to completely clear and organize your desk and office.
2. Organize your computer desktop the same way: make folders for each category of documents and photos and then see which folders can be grouped together into even broader categories to minimize the overall number of folders on your desktop. You should only have those documents and/or photos on your desktop that are necessary for the project you’re working on at the moment.
These tips may seem simple, but how many of us actually do them and then routinely keep up the decluttering efforts? And speaking of the power of a clean desk, there are many more strategies to achieve a zen-like workspace. Yes you can!
The idea is this: Once you see and feel how even one pristine area helps you think, create and perform better and with more confidence, you’ll want to invest the time to keep it that way, and to banish clutter in other areas of your life—like pruning the overload of commitments that clog our mental space—a subject I’ll discuss in the next post in this series. In the meantime, please join our decluttering conversation by leaving your best ideas and/or biggest clutter problems in the comments below.