General Topic: > Productivity

Summary: The most powerful weapon for beating the clutter monster is right between your ears: your mind - (Tweet This!)

This article would have been published hours ago if I only I acted on the title. My desk has so much clutter on it, that I can't effectively use it to write. Instead I sit on the couch, with poor posture and not in a good working environment.

It's not just my desk. It's my computer's desktop as well. Icons stretch far off the windows screen. I have folders, but they are so many that they stretch off the screen.

It's time to clean the clutter.

Why We Need to Declutter

Basketball in a suit of armor

Intimidating, but not effective.

Clutter saps my focus. Instead of doing what I need to do, I'm thinking about the mound of mess. I can forget about finding the business card from last year's conference... which means lost opportunities.

These things may not seem like much, but they add up and they have a "mental weight" for me. It's like trying to play basketball in a suit of armor. You can't play your best game.

Causes of Clutter

I can think of three main causes of clutter:

  1. Not enough time to put the clutter away
  2. Not enough space for one's physical "clutter" requirement
  3. A mental block with throwing stuff away

I find myself with dealing with #1 and #3 on a regular basis. The problem with time is that there's never enough of it. I'm getting there with all the productivity tips that I'm learning. Also, since clutter costs me time, it is a vicious circle. If I can clear off the time to clean it, it will save me even more time in the future.

The mental block is tougher to deal with. It sometimes hurts me to throw stuff away. These are thinks that I think:

What if I need that again? It cost me money to buy it, so I'm throwing away money. It must have value to someone, so I just need to find that person. If I find that person, I'll be helping save the environment by giving this thing another life.

It's not like I'm saving pizza boxes from 1987 like you might see in an episode of hoarders. However, you get the idea that I'm not much of a minimalist.

Mind Over Clutter

Finally, there's the idea that you might not have enough for your "clutter." In this scenario, I put "clutter" in quotes, because the items may not be clutter in the traditional sense. They could be very useful and even necessary items, but the lack of a designated space or "home" for the items could create the issue.

Get Your Mind into Declutter

So what do you do if it hurts to get rid of things? You do it slowly, taking a few baby steps each day. This way you build a resistance to those questions. You make throwing away a few things habit.

Alternatively, you could designate a few items to go to charity or a yard sale. Simply have a couple boxes appropriately marked in any storage space you do have. Then when you find yourself saying "This must gave value to someone", you have an answer. You don't have to feel bad about harming the environment as you might if you throw it away.

It gets even better. You might even get a tax deduction and save money by getting rid of the item.

Further Reading

If you are looking for more actionable tips, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars by nearly a thousand reviewers on Amazon. That's a lot of value for under $10.

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Declutter, Mind

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