What is Clutter?
When you hear the word "clutter", do you just think of physical clutter? A messy desk? A pile of paperwork? A room in your home that is disorganized?
According to Merriam-Webster, the verb clutter means... to run in disorder; to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness.
I think Peter Walsh explains it best when he said,
“Clutter is not just the stuff on your floor. It's anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living.”
In 1995, I was a newlywed and a music teacher who launched a home-based business as a side gig. (Long before the term "gig economy" was a thing.)
Over the next 20 years, that business ended up changing my life and the life of my family. I could go on and on about the joy and blessings and opportunities I experienced by being a business owner.
But, being a business owner also had its challenges. For me, one of the biggest challenges was clutter.
Every day I was trying to keep up with my customers and my team. Trying to keep up with information and training systems that always seemed to be changing. Technology and social media were supposed to make our lives easier, but as the years went on... everything felt more complicated. There was more to learn, more to figure out, more to do.
And then there was my office. It was a disaster with a capital D. Piles of paperwork, stacks of contact information, receipts for business expenses, and random notes and post-its filled my workspace. My digital space was just as cluttered as my desk. My desktop was full of screenshots and images, files I could never locate, passwords I never remembered, and thousands of emails in my inbox.
An example of my workspace prior to 2013 (not my actual office which was much worse than this)...
Working in this type of environment not only cluttered my space but cluttered my mind. Many times I wasn't motivated or able to focus on the activities that would get me to my goals. I was overwhelmed and stressed because I knew I was missing opportunities and wasting so much time.
While I used to tell people I was busy and blessed, I really meant frantic and frazzled! Clutter was holding me back.
What is Clutter Costing You?
I recently did a 4-Day Banish Business Clutter Challenge and I asked business owners to share ONE WORD that described how clutter made the feel.
As expected, many said...
Some of the responses went much deeper. And I realized clutter is costing us more than we think...
Anxious? Inadequate? A failure? I deeply feel the weight of these words, don't you? When we feel this way, we lose our motivation, ability to be creative, and confidence in ourselves and our purpose. This is why reducing physical, digital, and mental clutter is essential.
What Causes Clutter?
According to Barbara Hemphill of the Productive Environment Institute, “Clutter is postponed decisions.”
Why do we postpone decisions and allow things to build up until we are BEYOND overwhelmed from all the clutter?
I believe it's because at that moment we are lacking two things.
A Plan and A Place
Have you ever forgotten to follow up with a business lead? Maybe you wrote their name down on a Post-It note and you found it 2 months later in a pile of paper? (I won't ask for a raise of hands on this one.)
If you had A DESIGNATED PLACE where you kept your lead list, and A DESIGNATED PLAN for follow up and communication, what difference do you think it would make in your business? Knowing that just ONE new lead can lead to MANY opportunities, it's worth determining how you will work with every lead.
Let's talk about those tax receipts. For years I told myself at the start of each year that things would be different. That each week I would organize my receipts and each month calculate my expenses. But, it never failed. EVERY year I either submitted my returns on April 15th or got an extension and submitted them on October 15th!
I know I'm not alone.
No matter how much I desired to implement new habits and how much I said I was committed, nothing changed until I created A PLAN or system for how I would handle tax expenses and determined A PLACE for my receipts to be organized and categorized... not monthly, not weekly, but INSTANTLY. (Yes, it is possible!)
The Plan is the system you commit to.
The Place is where the information or item lives.
Creating business systems is key to increasing results and accelerating growth in your business. Without those systems, it creates clutter.
Fast forward to today and my life and business are completely different. For the last 7 years, I’ve completely eliminated paperwork piles. My desk (and desktop) are clear of clutter. All of the information I need has a place and I can find it easily. And I'm proud to say that I submitted my tax information to my CPA in FEBRUARY this year! (A personal record!)
My actual office today...
Having gone through this process and discovering what tools and systems reduced clutter in my life and business, I launched a business focused on helping business owners do the same.
In my 4-Day Banish Business Clutter Challenge, we focus on implementing systems that increase clarity, productivity, and effectiveness. In a nutshell, we turn chaos into calm.
Clutter does not define you or your value or your giftings. It's just "a thing" that requires you to make a decision. Instead of being overwhelmed by ALL you need to do, take that first step in determining a PLAN and a PLACE for your clutter to go.
Ready to reduce clutter so you can create the business you desire? Aren't sure where to start?
Let's do it together,