The October Challenge: Aargh! The Clutter is Returning!

All is going well with our challenge. Well, except for car girl, where the clutter in her house has overtaken her concern with her car. But she still has five days, and we’re all hoping for the best. I offered to go to her house and help, but when she learned that many garbage pails would be involved, she refused.

For the rest of us, the danger now is not to become recluttered. You know how it is: You have a clean desk on  Monday morning. And then on Monday evening, there are five or six papers that you’re not quite sure how to handle, and then on Tuesday, there are a few more. And then a few more. And by Friday, piles of paper once again threaten your productivity and, in some cases, your safety.

Here are some tips to keep clutter away:

  • Handle items as few times as possible, In a perfect world, you would deal with each piece of paper as it came to you, and then you would either throw it away or file it. Emails could be answered or deleted, but we all know it’s not a perfect world. Still, it’s a good routine to get into. Don’t have slips of paper hanging around on your desk or emails lingering in your box long after they’ve ceased to be relevant. Deal and go. If you can’t deal, put them in a folder to work with later.
  • If you can’t bear to throw away or delete, at least get them out of sight. Make a folder (real or virtual) and put projects in. Check it after a certain length of time. Is any of it relevant? Does anything still need to be worked on? If not, let it go into the trash can.
  • Don’t mistake moving stuff around with actual progress.
  • Make technology work for you. I’ve found I can delete most emails that come to my box because when people respond, the entire chain of comments is there for me to review. And, if for some reason, they’re not, I can retrieve them from my sent box.
  • Also, don’t mistake decluttering with actual progress. This is a lesson learned while I was writing my dissertation. There was nothing more appealing than cleaning out my files or reordering my books when I was supposed to be writing. And since it was ‘related’ to my project, I felt I was doing something useful, but, at the end of the day, I wasn’t any closer to finishing the actual dissertation.
Still, we’re better off than we were at the beginning of the month. Now we’ll wait with hope for Car Girl’s final report next Wednesday.

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