Audio for Day 23
Welcome to Day 23
Today is a different take on de-stressing. It’s all about clutter. There’s been much said over the past few years about the connection to clutter in our homes/offices as it relates to our state of mind, much of it contradictory. I read something recently that said highly creative people tend to have cluttered desks. This included some pretty famous people – Tony Hsieh (shay) , founder of Zappos.com, Steve Jobs – Apple, Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook, Mark Twain and Einstein to name a few. Having things in neat piles is counterproductive for these types it said because they get inspired as they search for whatever it is they’re looking for, linking the concept they’re searching for with whatever their eyes land on coincidentally.
While I certainly don’t hold myself in that company, I have to admit that’s true. When I’m in the middle of creating a new program or seminar, I seem to find exactly what I need as I go looking through the papers and books that are stacked on my desk. I never seem to get to the reams of notes I’ve neatly filed away. Seems counterintuitive but I know it’s true. On the other hand when it’s time to actually write, I need a clear space, actually lots of space. That’s why I went to Newport for 3 days to sketch this program out. It’s why I usually write long hand in a pad facing the water. I need the open space to visualize what I want to create, to be able to see clutter free.
That’s the positive side of clutter. There’s the downside. A Princeton Neuroscience Institute study said clutter affects our ability to focus, interferes with achieving our goals. I know when I have a lot of clutter in my house, I am less motivated to do anything. Some even say a cluttered space equals a cluttered mind. I do know that when I clean clutter, I do feel less brain stress so that must be true as well.
A study at the University of Minnesota said that those with messy desks are more likely risk takers and prone to creativity while those who have cleaner desks are the rule followers, the people who take less risks. So many different findings on such a simple but challenging topic.
So how does this affect you, your stress level, your productivity?
Determine how you fit those descriptions above. If you are that creative person, give yourself permission to have a bit of clutter, to keep those books and magazines around for inspiration. Don’t waste time feeling guilty about not having the neatest spaces. Those are thoughts you can now release because you know clutter can be in your best interest – up to a point. Know that if it’s a work environment though, you may be judged for the neatness of your work space. Only you will know how far you can go in terms of what you’ve accumulated.
This does not mean that you’ve collected enough stuff to be classified as a hoarder. Collector, fine. Creative soul, check. Hoarder, problematic. Why? Because at the more extreme ends of the spectrum, you’ve now added elements of chaos to your daily life. You can’t find anything. Things are constantly falling over. It’s becoming dangerous just to navigate the space. As you can see, I’ve seen this up close and personal. No, it’s not my house. It is a highly stressful environment on many levels so it’s obviously not something you want to create for our own space.
If you’re someone who is not particularly creative or who likes things neat and organized, make sure you come up with a plan that fits your life style and those you live with. There are certainly enough magazines and Pinterest tips for de-cluttering.
The stress busting tip on this end of the spectrum is to not obsess over everything being perfect. I’ve seen people who can’t get the important things done because every little thing must be just so in their houses often to the detriment of those around them. Neat is great because it’s visually appealing and to some inspiring as long as it doesn’t become just another item on an already overly long to-do list or part of the never ending quest for the unachievable perfection.
Bottom line in all this?
Know yourself and don’t feel guilty about your style whatever it is
Don’t go too far in either direction or risk the stress that those extremes bring
Find what works with those you share your space with, understanding that they too have their preferences. This includes those creative kids who might thrive a bit better in less than perfect surroundings.
Come up with a system for putting things back. The old ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’ is the key to keeping things under control. I made a Power Phrase for myself a few years ago that still resonates in my head. “Put it back. Put it back,” pops into my head when I take something out so it goes right back to its proper place. It’s a habit to be sure created by thousands of repetitions.
Limit how much you bring into the house. We live in a consumer society and often forget that what we take in has to go somewhere. My best friend loved shoes and seemed to buy them on every trip out the door. She said her husband came up with a rule that for every pair in, two had to go out. Not sure how they worked all that out but it’s not a bad plan. I mean how many black pants or t-shirts can you have??
Less really is more as I realize every time I vacation in my minimal time share with only the most basic items. It’s so incredibly freeing. Don’t let all your stuff weigh you down. Make a once a month de-clutter session for yourself and family. Sell or donate so that others can benefit from what’s just sitting around your house.
Mission: what can you eliminate from your desk, your home this week? Who can benefit from your kindness and generosity?
See you tomorrow!
P.S. Now you can choose to continue to the next day or wait until tomorrow. Either way, here's a link to the next chapter.