7 Tips for Clearing the Clutter from Your Business and Your Mind

“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”  – Albert Einstein

When you hear the term “clutter,” you probably think of your overflowing kitchen cabinets or all the junk sitting around in your garage. Clutter in any area of your life is certainly draining and overwhelming – both mentally and physically.

clutterWhat about the clutter in your business? Is it negatively affecting your productivity and growth? Multiple studies have confirmed that having physical clutter leads to mental restlessness and roadblocks, anxiety, and a lack of focus on personal and professional priorities. This year when you start your spring cleaning, don’t just clean around the clutter in your life – clear it out!

These tips will help you get started clearing out the clutter in your business, your home, and anywhere else that you may have accumulated it.

1. Schedule time to focus on clearing clutter, and establish time goals, not just task goals. For example, if you decide to clean out your file cabinets on Tuesday morning but it’s really an all-day job, you’re only setting yourself up for failure. Instead, set a goal to work on the file cabinets from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and get as much as possible done in that time. That way, once the time is up, you’ll have met your goal even if the task itself is not entirely completed. If you finish that project before your time goal is up, you can start another! If you set time aside each day to work on your projects, you’ll have everything cleared out before you know it!

2. Make a decision. Pick up each item and decide if it is something you need to keep. If the answer is “yes,” put it immediately in its permanent place. You may also find that you need a pile for items you plan to keep but you don’t currently have a “home” for. You can find a place for these items once you’ve cleared out some space.

3. Divide and conquer. If you decide it isn’t something you need to keep, place it into one of four discard piles.
Trash – Hopefully this will become the largest pile!
Donations – If an item is still usable, you may want to consider donating it to charity. An added perk of clearing out your clutter is that the donations you make are tax deductible. Plus, you’re helping others that are less fortunate, and you’re “going green” by recycling your unwanted items.
For sale – Anything you might want to sell at consignment – or even in an online auction like Ebay or Craigslist.
Decide later – Things you cannot decide whether to toss or keep – this pile should be small, as you don’t want to simply move your clutter around!

4. Time to get rid of the discard piles.
Trash – Immediately take these items out to the garbage.
Donations – Call your favorite charity and make an appointment for a pickup, or set aside a time to deliver the items You may want to make this trip once you’ve finished cleaning out several areas.
For sale – As soon as you are able, list your stuff on the online auction site, place an ad in the local newspaper, or take your stuff to a consignment shop.
Decide later – Look back through this pile and try to divide as much of it as possible. If you still can’t decide on any items, place them in a box somewhere out of the way. One month later, if you haven’t needed any of the items in this box, you probably don’t need it!

5. Once you’ve gotten rid of all the excess items, it’s time to think about organization and storage. It doesn’t make any sense to go out and buy more storage containers before you’ve de-cluttered. Once all the clutter has been removed, you’ll have a much better idea of what storage and organization items you need – so now it’s time to go get them!

discovery_cropped6. It’ll get worse before it gets better.
When you start to clean out a drawer or a pile of papers and you begin to divide the items, things will become more spread out and appear to be worse than when you started. Don’t mistake this temporary mess for a lack of progress… just keep going until you’ve gone through it all and made decisions about what to keep and where to keep it. It will be much better once you’re done!

7. If you’re having a hard time getting motivated, reward yourself for your accomplishments. Once you’ve cleaned out every drawer in your desk, go get that massage you’ve been putting off. Plan in advance the treats you will earn as you reach your clutter-clearing milestones. This will help you stay motivated to stick with the process until it is done. Just remember – don’t add to the original problem by choosing rewards that create more clutter!

Complete clutter clearing is not usually an overnight process – it takes time and focus, but it is well worth it! Once you’ve cleared the physical clutter in your life, you’ll release a great deal of mental clutter along with it.

– This article was recently posted in the OneCoach blog. For more OneCoach blog articles, visit http://blog.OneCoach.com.

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