When a space is cluttered, be it physical or mental, it’s hard to find what you’re looking for quickly. You likely feel frustrated with yourself if it’s a fact or important detail lost in your cluttered mind. If you’re looking for something specific at home or in your office and you can’t find it, you probably swear that you’re going to tidy up the space as soon as you get a chance. Clutter slows you down and keeps you from attaining what you want.
I never want my physical or mental spaces to limit my most precious resource: time.
The time you waste searching for misplaced things can’t be regained. Additionally, the time you spend working on your mental thoughts to “get a clear head” is lost. We all occasionally allow clutter to pile up in our lives, but I have found that routinely and purposefully tidying up allows me spend more time doing what I love. Consequently, this equals less time feeling frustrated with myself and my environment. Here are some techniques you can implement to keep your physical and mental spaces orderly and functional.
Physical Space Cleaning
Home: Everything in my home has a place. “A place for everything and everything in its place,” is my philosophy. During the hectic workweek, things can easily be picked up and set down where they don’t belong in the rush to get out the door. Every weekend, I put everything in my home back in its proper place. I have found this routine to be very calming when I clear off the kitchen counter, throw away the old mail, clean up the desk in my office, and force myself to deal with all the things I let pile up during the week.
Car: I do this with my car every Friday night on my drive home from work. I fill up my car with gas, no matter how full the tank is because I never want to be late to a meeting because I ran out of gas. I clean out, wash and vacuum my car to make sure it’s ready for the week ahead.
Workspace: When I get to the office on Monday morning, I clean my desk, file anything that needs to be filed, and sort any files I had saved to my computer desktop. It’s amazing how quickly dozens of files fill up my desktop, and they can make it hard to find things quickly. Using the “search” function is much faster than hunting.
Once all my spaces are clean, I can start the week without worrying about finding a file when I need it or scrambling to find and charge my headphones before I leave for a workout. I’m always ready to go! This small investment of time maximizes my efficiency for the next few days until it’s time to declutter again.
Mental Space Cleaning
Journaling: I try to write something every day, but I don’t always know what I’m going to write about. I start typing and see what comes out of my brain. Sometimes I write things that seem profound, and other times I’m simply reflecting on the day. Both are worthwhile to get the thoughts out of my head and onto paper.
Meditating: Every morning, I spend 10 minutes focusing on my breath and clearing my mind. It’s all about the process of achieving what martial artists call a “mind like water,” in which thoughts can come and go without causing too much disruption. It frees me up to respond to things with a clear head and thoughtfulness throughout the day.
Talking and Listening: Every month I meet with an advisory group of peers; the Entrepreneur Organization Forum. I spend time with eight other business owners who each own multimillion dollar companies. We share what we are working through both personally and professionally. This sounding board allows me to talk through anything that is troubling me and get some direction and answers. I clear out all the frustrations I have had built up over the past month and come away with some practical solutions.
Just like any conduit, things pass through smoother when there is less congestion and they are wide open. I think our minds operate the same way. If you are mentally obstructed or your physical space is a mess, ideas and actions won’t flow freely. Take the time to clean things out and set yourself up for success.