tidy not clutter

estimated 3 min read

Today I’ll scribble a short and friendly reminder: recent study after recent study indicate that when in the midst of clutter we are more distracted, waste more time looking, and just don’t do the best we can.

I will sum up and link to what I’ve been reading soon. Why not now? The clutter in my office has been distracting me and my work, causing me to enter that downward spiral of “must attempt to do work and ignore all else”. If you’ve commented, emailed, or written and I’ve not gotten back to you or you’ve expected high quality posts, the clutter is why; to anticipate questions, no, I wasn’t accomplishing anything beyond wallowing in clutter and frustration. I spent hours working on problems that with focus require minutes to solve.

To that end, I took five minutes this noontime to tidy up my office knowing it would do worlds of wonders. It did. I knocked off a request in half the self-estimated time, definitely a good thing; I like to beat my time estimates.

E walked in tonight and commented about the large amount of cleaning I did in my office. I explained that I hadn’t taken much time: I only cleaned and neatly piled the stuff on my work surface and moved a few things to the periphery to bring more space into the room. I also took off the temporary sewing machine cover I made years ago, I didn’t want to waste fabric so I used an old t-shirt (mistake #1), I didn’t bother to make it fit so it always fell off (mistake #2), and I’d rather dust out my machine than keep looking at it and feeling bad. Tonight as I close up for the night, I will take 5 minutes and make sure that what needs to be put away is put away and try to pick up and clean one part of the rest of the office. 10 minutes of cleaning tops. If I had kept up with 5 minute clutter control weeks ago I wouldn’t be in this predicament now. Mum should be amazed, at age thirty I’ve finally learned to clean up.

Once what’s here is clean then I can begin to attack the seven boxes of office stuff we moved. My desk surface still has a way to go before it won’t easily into the temptation of easy clutter, but it’s getting there.

I don’t have questions today, just comments and friendly reminders:

  1. Try to put things away where they belong when you are finished with them. Turning a one step process (putting it away now) into a multi step process (putting it away later after moving it several times and thinking about putting it away) leads to clutter.
  2. Find what works for you, both for clutter control, and for tools.
  3. Five minutes a day can make a huge difference. Rome didn’t fall in a day and it won’t get mother-in-law-visiting clean in a day, but five minutes are manageable. Do it!
  4. Shine your sink (a.k.a. your clutter hot spots) every day. I agree with doing it as part of a going to bed routine (or leaving the office). It puts a positive spin on things.

It’s a lifelong challenge. I’m aware of my personal challenges and I’m rising to meet them. I will probably never fully conquer my disposition to clutter a space, but I shall try.

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One Reply to “tidy not clutter”

  1. Our office has become a disaster area again so this post is quite timely! It’s going to take more than five minutes to get things back to “tidy,” unfortunately. Maybe I’ll tackle it this weekend after I get my digital decluttering figured out.

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