Monday, July 19

Room to Think

Last Tuesday I helped a friend de-clutter and organize her home office. We re-discovered her desk surfaces, several feet of carpet and 5+ unused storage containers of various sizes. After 3 hrs she had made a huge dent in her accumulated stuff and had two extra large bags of trash to dispose of, plus the box for Goodwill.

There were many bags of "car" papers; papers she had brought in from her car over the last 6 months or so that were collected in multiple bags and which we had piled together, covering half a twin bed. Making our assessment at the end of the clean-up session she wondered, "Should I work on the car papers next?"
Looking around the room, seeing her progress so far and realizing how motivating it was for her to see some empty space in the office I said, "No, keep working on clearing the rest of the things off the floor and edges of the room. Save the "car papers" for after you're done with what we started today." I knew that if she started working on the bags of paper she would get bogged down in filing the important ones and might lose her zeal for finishing the general clean-up of her office.
Now, if there was something critical in those bags of car papers, then they would be a higher priority than finishing up the general clean sweep of the office. But, she did not think the contents of the bags were of high importance--she just wanted to make sure nothing worth saving was thrown away.
A few days later she reported that she had cleaned off all the surfaces of her desk, even going through notebooks and culling out the important papers. Afterwards, she ploughed through her bags of “car papers” and tossed a huge trash bag of discards.
Walking into a room with open space on the walls, desk surfaces and floor is relaxing, calming and sets us in the right frame of mind for clear thinking. It bolsters our motivation and lets us make faster decisions about what to keep, share and toss.