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Chris LoCurto

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August 12, 2011

How To Declutter Your Mind

August 12, 2011 | By | 12 Comments">12 Comments

Everyone knows it’s back-to-school time. Just turn on your TV, and you can’t miss it. But did you realize it’s also the season of our second “New Year.” What do I mean? Well, in the helping-people business,  January 1st and when the kiddos go back to school are when most minds flip a switch and think, It’s time to get things in order!

Usually, it’s about weight loss. But for us, it concerns finances. Since I’m talking to you about leadership, I thought I would throw an idea out there you’ve probably never thought of: getting your mind organized. While there are many things you can do to accomplish this goal, there’s one that I see go unnoticed in leaders all of the time—the state of your desk. If it’s cluttered or messy, so is your mind.

People with messy desks argue, “But I know where everything is!” While I don’t doubt it, that’s not the issue. The problem? There is a stack of papers on your desk  just sitting there.

Your desk should be clear with the exception of what you’re working on. Why? Because everything else is taking up space in your subconscious, telling you to do something with it. Therefore, cluttering up your mind.

So at the beginning of this second new year, it’s the perfect time to get organized, desk-wise. Here’s how:

  • Check your calendar – Start by picking a Saturday to come in and completely organize your office. And remember, it’s not going to be a 30-minute task. You need hours set aside—time when you won’t be bothered by others. Then, with all your focus on the task at hand, you’ll be able to make decisions on every piece of paper you find. And no, you’re not allowed to shove stuff in drawers or closets like you did as a kid!
  • Pick your favorite – Separate into two piles the tasks you must deal with immediately, and what can wait a bit but must be done soon. Then, organize the papers in order of importance, from top to bottom. When you come in Monday, you’ll know exactly where to start.
  • Hate on your team members – Every  job that you can’t get done in the next two weeks or the tasks you don’t need to spend time on need to be delegated to your team. Leave them little surprise stacks on their desks for Monday morning. Seriously, though, make sure you let them know ahead of time of the potential additional work coming their way. If you don’t have a team, it’s all you baby.
  • Put some arch on it – Everything left needs to be filed in an idea file. If it doesn’t get done, it doesn’t matter. If it’s not an idea, it needs to be crumpled up into ball and shot like a free-throw into the trash. I know, it will be difficult for some of you who still have files from 2004, with more dust in them than paper. But hey, you’re improving your basketball skills.

At this point, you are probably surprised because you have forgotten what material the top of your desk is made of. But you should also be pretty proud of yourself. As you leave your office, your mind will be tired, as well as ready to tackle Monday.

Question: When will you do this? 

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  • http://gravatar.com/lgthaxton Louise Thaxton

    Ok – my desk is clear – are you happy now????? Well, that makes two of you – my assistant and YOU! She has been nagging me – so, I decluttered this afternoon – while I was listening to your podcast! So…..now I need to go back and listen to podcast again so I can take notes because as I was listening I was throwing things away – I enjoyed the podcast so much, I hope I didn’t throw away anything “important”…..!

    Did I finish – NO! But I did make a start – and my desk is clear – well, almost…….

  • http://twitter.com/AccuContrive AccuContrive (@AccuContrive)

    In the company I work for, there is an interesting “benefit” for employees that the management wants to promote: A better and bigger desk. As Parkinson’s Law states [Work expands so as to fill the resources available for its completion], the smaller as well as the bigger desks are always cluttered up.
    Several days after I got promoted, the CFO stepped by and asked me why do I need this big desk for; it was literally empty, except my 2 screens, keyboard and mouse… It took hard work to convince him that I need it to enhance focus and clarity. I even had to threaten him that I have no problem cluttering it up, but my productivity will suffer…

    Back to your post: From my experience, having a clear desk in between a forest of cluttered up ones, in addition to the clarity it brings to your mind, it also tells your co-workers and employers what kind of person you are. In the long haul, you earn the respect of all the people who surround you. but this is really a by-product, and you cannot fake it long term. You mind must really be organized in order to keep your desk so.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That’s true. The funny thing is there are people who feel a cluttered desk says that they are super busy and you should respect them for it. Problem is, they’re also the ones dropping the ball.

  • http://ericspeir.com/ Eric Speir

    This is some good ideas. I am a very task oriented person and I work from a “to-do” list. I put a lot of things on there but some never seem to get done. I’m learning to be honest with myself and just take out what I’m not going to do.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      You have to. If not, it continues to remind you it’s there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1077115011 Colette Marx

    Chris, this one really hit home with me! Wowza! I’m going to give it a shot tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it goes! Loved that part about the little surprises for the members of the team! haha:) Does my 10 year old count as my team member??

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Yes he/she does. Just leave a cupcake too.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1077115011 Colette Marx

        So, I did the almost impossible! I took a couple of hours and worked like crazy on my desk (granted it’s at home). My husband has been nagging me to clean it up, but I had figured ~ it’s my work space! When I read your post I decided to give it a try. I wanted to produce the most efficient work when I’m working.

        I’ve gotta say, it’s a little bit invigorating sitting down at a nice clean desk, getting ready to start work for the day. Now I just have to make it a habit to clear the desk again when I’m done for the day so it can stay nice and clean! Thanks so much for the wonderful post!

        • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

          YES!!!! Way to go Colette!!! I’m really proud of you.

      • http://ginasmom.wordpress.com ginasmom

        3 cupcakes was what it took my team members on board:):). Great ideas!.

        • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

          HAAAAA!!! Nice!!!