Look around you and notice the clutter — stuff lying around. Things are put in spaces just because there is a gap.
This is a projection of my new office. I moved house, and I’m surrounded by boxes. I am relieved that the big stuff, meaning the furniture, is all in the right place, and generally, the space feels productive. After all, my computer has found a home, and I can connect with the world. That is a significant celebration. The small stuff needs to be organised and packed in the right cupboard and on the appropriate shelf.
I am getting into the grove of being productive in my new environment. The energy in the space feels fantastic. However, I am noticing that I am distracted by things not being in their proper places.
There is a right time for clutter. During the creative process, while the cogs are turning and the juices are flowing, it is normal to dump things wherever. Having to put things back in their place interrupts the flow.
The analogy of having to break eggs to make an omelette is apt. But afterwards, the dishes need to be cleaned, and the utensils returned to their rightful place.
I have the sense of dirty dishes lying around after cooking an epic meal. It’s ok to sit down and eat and enjoy the product of a great cook-up, but soon enough, the clean-up must begin.
Having clutter lying around is not just a physical manifestation; it’s a mental one too.
Incomplete thoughts and too many operations are running simultaneously, out of routine and several unfinished tasks. It all makes for inefficient use of processing power. That sounds like my computer when it’s data crunching a massive Excel file. That is my brain now.
The next steps are to slow down. One thing at a time, restore some order and then speed up.
A process that works well to reduce the metal clutter is called a “Thinking Pair”. I have used it with great success many times. It works best when you have a thinking partner who can help you with your thinking. The idea is to speak your thoughts aloud to your partner, who listens with full attention. Expressing your thoughts aloud requires you to complete your thoughts and not take mental shortcuts to the next topic or item on your to-do list. Set aside a defined amount of time, say 5 minutes per person and take turns. Don’t ask questions or interrupt the person who is thinking aloud. Let them think.
Thinking aloud requires you to be vulnerable. Pick your partner wisely. Trust and confidentiality are vital.