Managing Clutter

By Noel LaMontagne

The clutter we all accumulate throughout our lives can stifle even the most focused performers. Think of clutter as a fog that makes visibility difficult or sometimes impossible, direction misleading, and progress undiscernible. Legal issues, daily routines, scheduling conflicts, relationships, financial confusion, living arrangements…the potential list of “stuff” that can get in the way of our most efficient self is mind-numbing. Unfortunately, the things that make us less than our best can pile up quickly and in so many ways that we are unaware it is happening.

Organizing your personal and professional lives into lists, to put scope and context to what you are dealing with, can provide a roadmap toward efficiency. The front and back of our mind can be very far apart from one another, and when something is on our mind, we should immediately write it down. The opportunity to forget something decreases if we have a tangible reminder of it. When something unresolved hangs out there unremembered it will slow us down and could cause a critical misstep in what we are trying to accomplish. Habitually updating and referring to lists, especially for extremely busy people, will help show us what we have done, are dealing with currently, and have coming up in the future.

As the complexity of our lives increases, lists can be separated into categories to differentiate between work, personal, networking, health or whatever correlation is most preferred. The idea is to create a more discernable and linear path to accomplishing what matters the most to us. By separating our lists into categories, we can keep a more conscious balance in our overall lives and make sure we are spending time doing things to be successful. The more we check off each list, the further along we get and the closer we are to the next big breakthrough that awaits us.

There may be items that are difficult to fit into any of our lists because they overlap multiple aspects of our lives, tasks that seem to never get resolved, or things that continually reemerge no matter how many times we check them off. When you identify anything like this, take note, because unlike collective clutter due to a lack of awareness or overall organization, this may be specific clutter in the form of a roadblock. Earlier we likened clutter to a fog that made it difficult to see to the other side of something, well this type of clutter is the wall that you walk into while you are in the fog.

The major impediments in our lives that require substantial resources to eliminate are why the organization of clutter is so vital to our success. The identification and resolution of positive and negative milestones are what free us to be able to accomplish all our other list items. These are the big things that absorb big chunks of time and energy and create the environment for smaller things to get cast aside, delayed or forgotten. By organizing everything, these primary barriers can be identified through the fog of life and eliminated systematically to clear up everything and keep you on track to succeed.

Controlling clutter in life takes a conscious effort to identify, categorize, and manage our needs, wants and responsibilities. There will be good and bad that go with each, and we may never fully declutter everything that comes our way, but the idea is to organize our lives and be accountable to ourselves to keep moving forward toward success.