“Get rid of clutter and you may just find that it was blocking the door you’ve been looking for”
– Katrina Mayer
Claustrophobia is described as having an irrational fear of confined spaces. Fortunately, claustrophobia is estimated to only affect 5-7% of the population. While workers might not suffer from claustrophobia, they can cause similar experiences when they have a cluttered mind. Do you feel trapped in a cluttered mind?
How do you do your best work? For me it’s straightforward; I need clarity to focus. When I’m disorganised I waste time and find it draining. I hear similar stories from workers and executives I talk to. You see our brain likes organisation. The greater the level of disorganisation, the more our brain wanders and finds it harder to recall information.
These feelings are supported by research that shows the toll it takes on our mental well-being and overall health.
Some of the examples I see that negatively impact workers are when they:
Treat their inbox as a To Do list
Have a To Do list, but have made no commitments when items will be completed
Don’t have a plan
Have a schedule that isn’t reflective of their workload (maybe it only contains other people’s meetings)
When examples like these happen, we’re forced to think about when and how we’ll do the work whenever we’re asked for something. We’re mentally reprioritising the work. That’s why it’s so draining. We get a sense of the walls are closing in when impending deadlines loom.
Systemising how we work is a far better and easier way to work because it reduces the need and overwhelm from having to remember every minor detail. Our basic systems need to be able to manage the storage / retrieval of information and help us to prioritise the actions we need to take.
If you want to reduce cluttering your mind, then start by getting your systems aligned to keeping on top of what you need to do to be successful in your role.