Get Out From Under the Clutter


Those dreaded piles of paper are accumulating on your desk. The myriad emails stacking up in your inbox, waiting for the spare five or ten minutes you might find sometime today or maybe this week and if not definitely first thing next week, are giving you chills every time you look at them.


It does your head in, doesn’t it? And that’s precisely the point! The more clutter in your life, the harder it is to get anything done. As long as things are left undone, half done or hanging, they’re occupying brain-space. Your brain sends you those little messages that interrupt your day, you know the ones, “Oh, I must get that proposal finished”, “I’ve got to find that email’, “Now where did I put that contract?” These tiny little interruptions take your focus away from the task at hand, even if just for a second, distracting you when you really need to concentrate on what you’re doing.


1. Organise! Do it right now and if you can’t, pick a time when you can.


2. Go through each piece of paper; decide whether you can action it right now and if you can, do it. If you can’t, diarise a time when you can and then file it. Once you’ve eliminated all the paperwork on your desk, promise yourself that every piece of paper that comes across your desk gets handled the same way. If it can be dealt with immediately, do it, otherwise diarise it and file it.


3. Now let’s take a look at your emails. A good friend of mine asked me to help him clean up his computer. He had over 2,300 emails in his inbox! No wonder he could never find a thing! Create individual folders that are meaningful to you. I have a folder for work-related newsletters, another for family and friends’ emails, one solely for emails to and from Wendy and others dedicated to people I receive emails from regularly. I have created a folder for facebook notifications and another for twitter and still others for other social networking sites I belong to. I have a folder to keep track of website registrations and another for google alerts I receive.


4. Having the folders is only a start to organising your emails, now you need to set it up so that emails go directly into the folders where they belong. You do this with rules and it’s a fairly straightforward process to create rules to divert your emails into their correct folders. You can even set it up so that emails from important people play a special alert sound. This is especially helpful if you’re expecting something from them but don’t want to waste time checking your inbox every couple of minutes.


Once you’ve dealt with all the bits of paper and emails cluttering up your life, you’ll feel a lot better, you’ll certainly be able to think clearer and work far more efficiently. You might even find you have a bit more time on your hands for the things that are really important, like going out for ice-cream with someone special or buying a new pair of shoes just because they’re impractical and irresistibly gorgeous!