We all love sunny weather. And yet, at least here, in the Pacific Northwest, when the clouds part and the sun appears, people start squinting and reaching for sunglasses. We can obviously see clearer in cloudy weather.
That got me thinking. I always aimed for a clean desk, organized papers, emptied Inbox, and scheduled appointments with people. The idea was to create space for creative thinking, for focusing on big items, and for replacing reactivity with proactivity.
One week I cleared it all and couldn’t wait for the new levels of efficiency. But I got super disappointed. After everything was neat and organized, for a couple of hours I felt free to think and focus, but then I started feeling super bored. Nothing inspired me. I was craving that sound of a new e-mail and was ready to jump on anything that people would want me to be a part of. I was missing the clutter. This cleanliness was way too sterile for me.
Clutter actually helps me develop skills that are important for my professional success.
Here are some of them:
I have a basket full of printouts of stuff I want to read at some point, my mailbox is full of e-mails that are not crucial to react on, but can be interesting. So, once in a while I randomly pick one, read it and ask myself, “What does this inspire me to do?”
Getting comfortable with clutter teaches you flexibility and ability to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
If you had a clean desk you would react to everything that comes your way. Only when you are surrounded by a lot of e-mails, random papers, tasks or people coming and going, can you develop a sense of what’s important and what’s not.
Don’t spend your days organizing and de-cluttering. If your goal is to create space to do something you always wanted to do, then just do it. You may realize that you’ve been using the de-cluttering as an excuse to delay taking action.
Embrace the clutter!
Get comfy in the cloudy weather – get used to the discomfort of the messy desk and the clutter in your Inbox. Trust your ability to know what’s the most important at any moment. Don’t wait for the sunny weather. Get an umbrella instead.
Henrieta Riesco is a founder of Intentional Career. She is all about meaningful conversation to empower professionals on their career journey. After experiences of being a teacher and a corporate trainer in Slovakia, a customer advocate and a training consultant for 10+ years at Microsoft, she is comfortable with calling herself a Career Coach. You can follow Henrieta via Twitter, or via her blog.