I recently spent a week with my sisters (I have three) and I realized something. No matter how well we are doing, we still carry around our own personal baggage. Sometimes it’s from yesterday, and sometimes it’s from twenty years ago. Emotional baggage is very hard to part with. In some way, it defines us. Even difficult experiences make us who we are. Logically, we want to get rid of it, but perhaps we are afraid of losing something important. Perhaps these memories offer comfort, because they show us how far we have come. But when this baggage is always in front of us, how much of our present can we truly enjoy and appreciate?
Clutter is a physical form of this emotional baggage. Sometimes it directly relates to good or bad memories. Sometimes we just remember how much it cost and so we hate to “get rid of it”. But how much is this “baggage” really costing us?
Would selling it be worth the time? If so, great! If not, ask yourself what this item really means to you. What do you feel when you look at it? Does it bring up that emotional baggage? Would a donation to a charity help you get this off your mind, while possibly giving you a payoff greater than the actual dollar amount it is worth?
I believe the freedom people seek when starting to get organized is only possible when they are willing to free their minds from the emotional baggage that led to the physical pile-up. The stacks accumulate because we avoid them, and the negative feelings become more intense when we avoid them, as well. Have you woken up from a terrifying dream, lately? Have you hurt yourself walking through a cluttered space? These are signs saying: “pay attention to me!”
When you are ready, so am I. Let’s get rid of some baggage together.
Live “abundantly clear”,
When I worked in the corporate world, you could tell a lot about a person by his or her desk. The trouble was it was open to many interpretations. I worked with someone (we’ll call him Paul) who had stacks and stacks of files on his desk. His superiors thought he was a real “go-getter”, was always busy, and could seemingly multi-task like a champ. Those of us who were his peers had a different perspective. When you called Paul, he almost always had his phone forwarded to voicemail. Everything was a “fire” he was putting out, and being “in the weeds” was his daily position. He gained a reputation as someone to work around, not with.
In my job, we had ad hoc projects each day, but for the most part, my team and I had a schedule, and we knew what had to be completed and when. As a result, I was able to put files away and sort my paperwork every night before I left work, so I walked into a clean desk each morning. Were there nights when I was just too tired and dragged myself home without doing the nightly tidying? Sure, but I noticed a marked difference in how I felt the next morning and how well I managed my work that day. Here’s the kicker – one night I was about to leave and my desk was pretty much clear. My boss passed by and asked “what – don’t you have any work to do?” Ha ha – what a card. Bosses – do your whole team a favor, and don’t make fun of your organized employees – they know where things are and they can get your answers when you need them. You want them on your side, and you want your other employees to see the respect you show those who can manage their time, and their spaces.
So, if you are a member of the messy desk club, ask yourself why. Maybe there’s a little ADHD going on there, because it’s difficult for you to finish something before another task grabs your attention. If you suspect that, do your research and get some assistance. Lists are great for ADHD, plus other visual or audible reminders (like the *bing bong *on your Palm, or Outlook, etc.) Maybe it’s just a bad habit. Time to break it. Learn some time management and filing skills – (try a professional organizer!) – or delegate anything you can. Maybe you’ve found that people leave you alone when you look busy. You may do well with this tactic for a while, but eventually the little boy shouts out: “the emperor has no clothes!” Do you really want to be the person who never gets promoted due to the fact that you’ve established a reputation for being too busy to ever take on anything new? Information is power – but only if you can find it.