Today’s post is the featured article from the May 2008 issue of The Front Porch Newsletter. If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.
It has been busy here at Keynote Concepts between speaking engagements, working on finishing the manuscript for a new book — and on clearing the clutter!
Sue Komarynsky joined our staff in early February. We don’t have an official title for Sue just yet. I have never been much into titles — especially just assigning them. They sometimes can be limiting. Having spent 18 years of my professional life working in a large worldwide professional services firm, I understand that titles can serve a real purpose and bring some clarity to the chaos. But I figured Sue might eventually want to come up with her own title! And we will eventually certify an official title worthy of her significant contribution!
But in her initial few weeks at Keynote Concepts, Sue has been on a mission as the Chief Clutter Clearer! She is relentless, in her own nice way, to push away the clutter that piles up in the midst of the speed of all that needs to get done. The office is already looking like a new place — and I have a feeling she has just gotten started!
And as the clutter clears, there is a new sense of energy that begins to surface from the bottom of the rubble. Things begin to become clearer. What is really important doesn’t tend to get lost in the shuffle. Yes, we have been clearing physical space, but more importantly we have been opening up mental space. And there is a momentum that is hard to ignore. As I travel the country speaking to organizations of various sizes, I hear a common them over and over again — I am overwhelmed! The speed at which most professionals move is breath-taking. It is non-stop. There is a lot of clutter that clings to us. It weighs us down. And it might just be blocking our real potential.
Things seem to be different than they were in years past — although I am sure prior generations would tell us differently! They too had their clutter. Maybe just the context has changed. Our clutter goes well beyond just physical piles. We have electronic clutter. We have a lot of noise that clutters the air. And we have schedules packed with a 24/7 mentality. And in them midst of all of this I am not so sure our clutter clearing skills have evolved at the same speed as everything else.
Are we really overwhelmed or just blinded by the clutter? I am convinced that a considerable amount of our stress is caused by our clutter. Clutter clearing can clear the air! Historically, clutter clearing was likely an annual project. So goes the concept of spring cleaning. I would propose today that clutter clearing needs to be a rhythm in our life. It goes beyond just getting organized. It is a constant process of awareness that needs to infiltrate our DNA. It is about making great choices in an environment where choices are abundant.
But in an old-fashioned way — there are times where we just need to stop and do some serious spring cleaning.
Some of that spring cleaning may very well be physical. We may need to just stop and get things cleaned up — physically and electronically! Others might be physically organized but in the midst of mental chaos. They may need to take a hard look at exactly how they are using our time. Are we reactively letting our calendars fill with good stuff or are we intentionally and strategically guarding it for the great stuff? Some may need to purge some old habits to make room for what is really important. Are we just going through the motions with tradition or setting the stage for more relevant initiatives? Others may need to do an inventory of their relationships. Are we investing in the right connections — making room for new ones while nourishing the current ones that are really important?
Some of us may need to do all of this! I am convinced we know how. Most of us just don’t do it. Blinded by the clutter, we just keep going and complaining that we are overwhelmed. The spring season will soon come to a close. And when it does, will you have done your spring cleaning?
It’s good to spend time on your “front porch.” But sometimes you need to get up and sweep it off! With Sue on board at Keynote Concepts, you can bet we will be spring cleaning. I have a feeling we will be clearing clutter well beyond spring! I think it just might become a habit. And I am convinced in doing so, we will be seeing more clearly come the lazy days of summer!
ACTION IDEA: Create your own clutter free zone …
1. Start with your work space. Make it a truly clutter free zone. Don’t just throw things in a closet. You will mentally know they are still there. Throw away everything that you can. Mental organization starts in your physical space! Even if you are not a neat freak, you just might be surprised how it inspires you!
2. Take an inventory of your calendar. Review the past few months and look into the future. What clutters your calendar? You can’t change the past, but you can sure make great choices for the future. This may require some tough choices. Make them or they will make you.
3. Take an inventory of your current projects. What needs to stay on the list? What needs to be delegated or discarded? Again, make some tough choices.
4. Think about your relationships. With whom should you be spending your time? Make a list of those who can be helpful to you and those you can be helpful to. Then make sure your calendar reflects your choices!