Everything broken is clutter!

At a recent speaking engagement, I asked the question, "When you think of 'clutter,' what comes to your mind?" Several of the answers I expected: "paper," "email," "my garage", but two of the responses truly intrigued me:

1) "head trash"

2) "relationships"

The conversations that ensued after the presentation resulted in a new conclusion: Everything broken is clutter.

We always encourage our clients to ask the question, "Does this help me accomplish my work or enjoy my life?" If the answer is "Not really," it's clutter, but think about it. Some things are clutter because they don't help you accomplish your work or enjoy your life, while other things need repair.

One of the participants told the story that he had a model airplane sitting on his desk. It had been there for months, but the wing is broken. "How long would it take to repair?" I asked. "Probably five minutes," he replied. With a broken wing, the plane is clutter -- draining mental energy as he repeatedly chides himself, "I really should fix this." In a matter of minutes, it could be a source of inspiration!

Research shows that we become like the five people with whom we most often hang out. Do those five people in your life help you accomplish your work or enjoy your life? One friend told me today that every time she meets a friend and asks, "How are you doing?" the friend replies, "I'm hangin' in there." "I'm getting so I hate to ask her," my friend said. That relationship is clutter.

There are two options.

1) Stop it or

2) Decide whether it is important enough to you to take action to try and fix it.

For example, when I find myself in a conversation where someone says something that I don't understand, or don't agree with, I often respond by including the phrase, "Tell me more." That opens the door to more conversation where I can better understand -- or gives me evidence that this relationship is clutter in my life.

Years ago, at a presentation, I said, "Have nothing in your home which is not useful, beautiful or loved." One woman on the front row replied loudly, "There's goes my whole house -- and my husband!" Of course, everyone laughed. Thankfully, it turned out she wasn't serious, but I'm confident that all of us -- including me -- have clutter that should be repaired or eliminated.

One of my favorite books is Atomic Habits by James Clear. He makes the statement, "We do not rise to the level of our goals. We fall to the level of our systems."

So, I have a challenge for you this week which I'm confident would be a highly productive habit to establish regularly: Identify one thing in your life that is clutter that you need to eliminate so you can accomplish your work and enjoy your life.

Then ask two questions, 1) "What is the next action I need to take? 2) By when?"

Our goal is to help you create a Productive Environment, an intentional setting where you can accomplish your work and enjoy your life. Join us for our next Tame Your Paper Tiger Online Workshop. Check the registration link for the date and time. We'd love to help you develop a plan you can implement and sustain!

Author's Bio: 

In 1978, Barbara took out a $7 ad in a New York City newspaper to advertise her professional organizer business. For 20 years, she focused her business on organizing paper and physical clutter for home offices and organizations. Then the Internet Age came about, and she utilized her principles and expertise to help clients with digital clutter.

Over the past 40+ years Barbara has helped 1000's of companies, and became an icon and top expert in the industry. She has been featured on national media platforms such as Good Morning America, The Today Show and CNN Nightly News. She has also been showcased in publications including USA Today, New York Times, Fast Company, Reader’s Digest, Real Simple and Guideposts.

Barbara and her team teach business owners a 9-step system to go from overwhelmed to optimized. Step 1 is a free Assessment that can be found at www.ProductiveEnvironmentScore.com.