My calendar was open -- only one meeting and nothing else scheduled.
As I went to bed on Sunday night, I contemplated all the many things I could get done with so much time to focus. The possibilities seemed endless!
Then I got to the end of my Monday ...
And I felt totally dissatisfied with how much I'd gotten done. All day long I'd had trouble focusing. It felt like a constant uphill battle.
As I shut down my computer to go make dinner, I took a quick glance at my work space. It was disheveled and disorganized. I quickly developed a hypothesis for why I'd struggled to focus.
So I spent the first part of my Tuesday straightening up.
- I threw away trash.
- I processed stray, unopened mail.
- I organized my jungle of cords.
- I put away items not in daily use.
And a not-so-surprising result occurred: I've been much more focused for the rest of the week.
As Melissa writes at Simple Lionheart Life:
Clutter distracts you, competes for your attention and can visually overstimulate you. All of which makes it hard to focus and can interfere with your productivity.
Frankly, clutter isn't just an issue in my office. My wife and I have been struggling to contain it throughout our house.
It's a three-front war:
- We're still trying to figure out where everything goes in our new house.
- Our daughter is a delightful whirling dervish of joy and energy ... but a messy and disorganized one.
- And a whole lot of new stuff has gotten tossed into the rotation with the addition of a second baby.
At times we laugh it off as just a byproduct of the season of life we're in. At other times it's a source of stress and frustration.
All the while, it's exacting a mental toll on us whether we're conscious of it or not.
So we've decided to get serious about it as we plan to handle our upcoming anniversary-birthday-Christmas triumvirate -- which always runs the risk of adding a whole lot more stuff to the mix if we're not careful.
- No tchotchkes.
- No picture cubes or frames.
- No kitchen stuff.
- No gimmick gifts.
- And on and on.
We want to downsize and get rid of stuff, not add to it.
Being parents who work from home is stressful and distracting enough. Anything that can reduce our mental load and deliver added clarity and space is not only welcomed, it's really a necessity at this point.
Plus, it makes gifts more fun to shop for anyway.
Tchotchkes and gimmick gifts can win the moment right when they are opened, but what is their lasting utility?
For example, after enduring last year's winter storm disaster here in North Texas, when we were without power for a number of days, my wife really wants a battery-powered generator.
It won't be all that exciting to open on Christmas day, but it will pay dividends down the road when we need it. As a bonus, it can be kept out of sight, out of mind until it's needed.
Come to think of it, this leads me to useful question to add to the list I sent last week: will this gift ADD to the recipient's hidden mental load or will it help to REDUCE it?
This is why we think the THINKERS Notebook bundled with our loop and pen is such a good Christmas gift.
Sure, it's a thing that sits on your desk or in your drawer, but its job is to declutter your mind by serving as an ever-ready receptacle for your thoughts and ideas.
Plus, the THINKERS loop attaches the pen to your notebook to reduce physical clutter. And the THINKERS app helps you digitize your notes, so you don't even need to keep the physical notebook around long-term to have perpetual access to what you've written in it.
(You're welcome to grab one now, but just know that we have a ridiculously big customer and subscriber appreciation sale coming in a couple of weeks, before Black Friday. So keep your eyes peeled for it to get an incredible price on our gift bundles.)
In this week's THINKERS Roundup, I'm linking to three articles that discuss the silent but significant impact that stuff has on our thinking, on our mental clarity, and even on our mental health.
Read and consider these articles as you consider what to get for the people on your holiday list.
Then opt for inspiration and usefulness over the easy win of a tchotchke or gimmick.
People should spend more time collecting and organizing ideas, and less time collecting and trying to organize stuff.
As thinkers, we have a responsibility to help guide the people we love in this direction.
Clutter doesn't just occupy space and attention, it steals your time too.
"For the things you use and love, it’s ok because they add value to your life in exchange for the time they take from you. But the clutter, the stuff you aren’t using or don’t love, simply takes your time without giving you anything in return.
"When you have more stuff than you use, need or love, you spend a lot of time managing and taking care of all that stuff. And as a result, have less time for other, more important things."
Read: The Negative Effects of Clutter: 12 ways your stuff is stealing from you! (Simple Lionheart Life)
Steady progress will make a big difference in the long run.
"If the sheer amount of stuff in your house makes you overwhelmed, and you don’t even know where to begin getting organized, you have too much stuff.
"Pick an area that you can declutter quickly and that will have a big impact on your space. You don’t have to have hours and hours available. You’ll be surprised at what you can get done in just 10 minutes a day as long as you’re consistent with it."
Read: 9 Signs You Have Too Much Stuff and Not Enough Space (The Simplicity Habit)
Clutter is a proven path to unhappiness
"All of this physical, mental and emotional clutter can contribute to the inability to think clearly, which can contribute to stress and low energy.
"Clutter can make it difficult to get things done, to find what you need, and to live in an orderly and efficient manner. When we spend time everyday looking for our keys or trying to find that one pair of pants, we can become frantic and stressed, allowing this negative daily energy to build up over time.
"Spending time sifting through physical clutter to find something can take up a large amount of time, potentially taking time away from other important tasks and self-care routines."
Read: How Clutter Affects Our Mental Health (Very Well Mind)
Quote of the week
"The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t."
-- Joshua Becker