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Dave Balch: The Stress of Clutter

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I did an amazing thing this weekend; I can’t believe it. I cleared off my desk! No, I didn’t just sweep everything into the trash can (although it was tempting), I actually gave some thought to each item and put it where it needed to go. There were books that went on the bookshelf, papers that had to be filed, notes that needed to be entered into the computer, etc.

The result of this was threefold: it was easier to work at my desk, I had the satisfaction of doing something that had been bugging me for a very long time, and I no longer had that tense feeling from just looking at that unorganized pile of junk. (I also re-discovered that my desk is actually wood, since I could see it for the first time in a long time!)

It is surprising how stressful clutter can be. I can think of several reasons:
a)it’s hard to find the things you need
b)your boss will think that you are disorganized (even if you know where every scrap of paper is in the pile)
c)there is a constant, overwhelming feeling that you should do something about it.

There is a saying that “a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind;” the opposite is also true. I didn’t want to take the time to do it because other things seemed more important, but I have discovered that clearing the clutter wasn’t just a “thing” on my to-do list. It was an INVESTMENT.

Maybe I spent 2 hours organizing, filing, etc, but I have gained that back and much more because I spent that 2 hours. It’s like the difference between spending $100 on a pair of shoes or taking that same $100 and putting it in the stock market. (Given today’s economy, maybe that’s not the best analogy, but I think you’ll get the idea!)

This doesn’t just apply to your working space; it applies to anything/everything in your world including your living areas, the garage, your car, etc. Clean it up – not only will you have one less stressor, but you’ll have quite a sense of accomplishment as well.

In a previous article I had mentioned that there is no magic bullet to reducing stress: we have to find lots of little ways to reduce it and the cumulative effect will be worth the effort.

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