Every now and then you hear a bit of wisdom that shifts your entire way of thinking. This year, I have become a big fan of the back to work podcast with Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin — and in an episode from the back catalogue, they talk about the idea of clutter in the workplace and how it affects your workflow and day to day life. Merlin said something along the lines of “Everything needs a dedicated space where it lives. If it doesn’t have a defined place where it goes when it’s not being used, it will become clutter.”
In this, they were jokingly discussing buying things for your house or office, but it hit me in an entirely different way. I realized that this applies to all the things in life. Not just physical clutter around the house, but in our work, our goals and even our relationships.
“Imagine creating a system where every little thing in your life has it’s place and time, and when you’re working on something, whether it be paperwork, watching a movie or being in an engaged conversation, everything else is put away and in its place around you. You are constantly doing your best work”
A very successful and influential pastor once said, “Your ministry will be as neat as your bedroom. The little things add up.” And a couple of years ago, I would have heard this and rolled my eyes. But now, as someone who is trying to run multiple businesses, be in a responsible and serious relationship, while also maintaining an enjoyable quality of life throughout it all, I see the truth in this statement. The little things most certainly add up.
For example, in the seasons where I am on top of keeping my room, home and car clean, other things benefit as well. I am less forgetful of the things my friends and family tell me, I am more productive in my work and I am happier in the day to day life. Not solely because my environment is well maintained, but it is definitely a large contributor to it. Why? Because it cuts out the clutter. Imagine creating a system where every little thing in your life has it’s place and time, and when you’re working on something, whether it be paperwork, watching a movie or being in an engaged conversation, everything else is put away and in its place around you. You are constantly doing your best work, while also keeping your sanity in tact.
So with that in mind, I remember what Merlin says and I started applying that to other parts of my life. Whether it is dedicating time of the week to go to lunch with old friends, or defining what amount of time I spend on social media sites, and working on very specific things at very specific times. I have given everything a shelf in the house of my life, some are used more than others, but it always lives there when I am not using it.
This might sound hippie-dippy, but truthfully it has changed my whole life. I am devoting the right time to the right things, and when I am not using it, I put it away neatly, and in a space where I can pick it up again later.
Now it’s time for some cleaning. Lets get the clutter out of our lives.