THE SURPRISING BENEFIT OF CLEANING UP
"In the scope of a happy life, a messy desk or an overstuffed coat closet is a trivial thing, yet I find that getting rid of clutter gives a disproportionate boost to happiness." Gretchen Rubin
According to U.S. News & World Report, Americans spend an average of one year of their lives looking for lost or misplaced items. The American Demographic Society says we waste a total of 9 million hours per day looking for mislaid articles.
I'm not a total slob, but I will confess that my office can sometimes get messy. I decided this weekend that enough was enough, and resolved to take real action. In the past, when I had these urges toward cleanliness, I would just move stuff around and make neater stacks. Within a few days, unfortunately, I'd be right back where I was, neck-deep in clutter.
This time I came to the conclusion that I needed something more lasting. I decided that for me, the best long-term solution was to go paperless. Since then my scanner, my shredder, and I have been working overtime to clean and organize my space. I still have a long way to go, but I can report significant progress in my move to digitize my work papers. In doing so, I made an amazing discovery.
As my project progressed, I found something even better than a clean desk. What I discovered was a clearer mind. It turns out that disorganized or unnecessary stuff hides worries that clutter our brains as well as our desks.
As each pile of paper disappeared into the scanner/shredder, I found I could stop worrying about overlooked obligations - both real and imagined - lurking in those untidy mounds. By eliminating the fear of missing unknown assignments, my mind was able to identify actual priorities and develop lists and plans for getting them done. That has given me a surge of energy and creativity, since I am no longer dragging around a mountain of nagging worries.
This project has given me a greater sense of mental clarity and control over my work life. This process lifted a huge burden from my shoulders, a burden I wasn't even consciously aware of. I'm excited about getting more digitized and better organized, not only for the look of my office but for the feeling of relief I feel. I'm determined to get rid of all my paper clutter and free my mind for the things that really matter.