For those of us committed to achieving greater success in our lives, a cluttered physical environment produces three negative consequences:
- You feel drained. If there are things to do everywhere you look, your mind constantly keeps thinking “I need to fix that.” Eventually, you feel drained, anxious, irritable and overwhelmed. To cope, we have to put blinders on and overlook the distractions.
- Problems spiral out of control. We often overlook irritations for the short-term gain of being able to continue you with our daily routine. The danger, however, is that some problems will grow worse with lack of attention. The chip in the windshield that could have been fixed in 30 minutes grows to a crack that requires replacement of the entire windshield.
- You miss important clues and ideas. It’s impossible to selectively numb out your awareness, ignoring only the minor distractions in your physical space while paying close attention to everything else. Our most powerful insights often manifest in gut feelings, fleeting thoughts and subtle cues. Numbing out to our cluttered physical environments makes us oblivious to these clues, as well.
Two ways to deal with clutter:
- Go through your environment and figure out what is irritating and distracting you. Ask yourself how it needs to be fixed. Then think about who you might be able to delegate all or part of the task two.
- Scan your environment to identify elements that need to be removed completely, as well as items that can be brought in to increase the energy in your space. For example, you might find adding a conference table to your office gives you an inviting place for creative work, while adding plants makes you feel calmer and connected to nature.
Remember that not all clutter is bad. For many people, clutter is a part of their creative process. The litmus test to use in determining whether your clutter needs attention is how you feel. If you feel inspired, the clutter is serving you and contributing to your creative process. If you feel drained, anxious or stressed, the clutter needs to be tamed.