out damn clutter

photo courtesy goddessPix

During this year of creativity, I’ve committed not to creating more stuff, but to creating action with purpose in myself and others. I realized in the first few days on the journey that I would need to make room for this new creativity and remove what was in my way: office clutter.

I didn’t want to toss all of my belongings and have a stark white office with a folding chair and table. Let’s face it, I like some stuff.  What I needed was a clutter free, functional office. Or maybe something more. Like Seth said “The space matters”.  So I set out to first remove the clutter and then create a zen-like office.

the great purge

The process is ongoing. I discovered in my assessment of my office that there are several main categories of stuff:

  1. Paper and its management tools
  2. Stuff to manage paper (folders, stapler, staple remover, paper clips…the list goes on)
  3. Stuff to organize the paper management stuff (drawers, plastic storage boxes, file cabinets…you get it)
  4. Books and books and books! (I love books)
  5. Electronics (backup chargers, cases, bluetooth headsets, a mouse or 5…yada yada yada)
  6. Misc things I don’t know where else to put!

paper. My theory:  remove the paper and you remove the need for the first three categories! So I began the great purge. I am being ruthless. I realized I had saved things for some future use but for the life of me I don’t know what that use may be! Shred the paper!

Of course important papers are scanned (electronic files are organized and backed-up). Some important papers will be kept, like tax papers, business licenses, insurance policies, birth certificates etc. Electronic copies may be valid, but if I can’t get to electronic copies…good old fashioned paper is required. These equal a small portfolio folder that can sit on the bookshelf or, more preferably, in a fireproof / waterproof box. All other papers get scanned and shredded. All shredding is taken to the recycling center.

Not surprising the paper and related items are probably 50% of my clutter. Without the paper there is no need for the other supporting stuff. But of course I don’t want to waste it. I let things become depleted and do not replenish. I also bring boxes of office organizing stuff to family and friends who are not ready to let go of their clutter. It’s good to reuse!

books. I have so many books that I dare not count them. Did I mention that I love books? This is a more difficult area to purge. How do you determine which books to keep?

  1. if you did not have the book already, would you buy it right now? if not, put it in the donate pile. Don’t waste any more energy. If you would, move to step 2.
  2. can you get a free ebook version? sources like Amazon have free eBook collections. Though not all versions are in the optimal format. If yes, download it. If no, go to step 3.
  3. can you buy an ebook version? If yes, buy it (either now or put it on your wishlist for later). If no, go to step 4.
  4. keep the book!

Of course there are books you will want to keep with our without the ebook version. I have a few books that I reference daily and I love the feel of a real book, so they stay (for now).

electronics. (sigh). If books were difficult, electronics are a nightmare.  I resist new gadgets, but am equally attracted to them. I guess you could say I have a love/hate relationship with them. But when there is a geek / engineer in the house, you just have to accept that there will be new gadgets (double sigh). So the first step is for me to identify what I do not use. Then I have to get it past the geek in the house to try and remove the clutter from the house.

misc clutter. This is an easy category. If I don’t need it, it goes! Out damn clutter!

The great thing about taking on the clutter in your office is once you get started, the momentum takes care of the rest!

Next post I’ll let you know what is actually left in the office and how I determined what I need to have not just a functional, but an inspirational office.