Decluttering – it works for business too

Bullshit button


There is always much talk in January about decluttering. Some invest in the Marie Kondo style of tidying up, but the mainly the application is to personal/home lives.

But we wanted to take a look at how this can be used within your business environment.

Bringing joy

One of the key guidelines used by various experts in the field is to hold an object and if it “brings joy” you put it on the keep pile. Now this might be useful for a treasured jumper or picture, but is less easy when staring at the hole-punch or stapler on your desk!

Similarly it’s not recommended for using this method to declutter a difficult work colleague from your environment.

With the practical things around us at work, think about how and why you use the objects. You may have a favourite pen, or indeed stapler. Is there other “clutter” that impacts on how you perform at your work station. By taking a step back and critically looking at just what is on your desk, does anything need to go?

I’ve just counted up at least 3 coasters (only 1 in use), 4 paperweights (only 1 in use) and 6 pens (currently none in use), second pair of glasses (how many can you wear at one time?), a light up glass eye that’s just frankly weird, and our often used “Bulls…t” button. This is roundly whacked every time there is nonsense spoken by us or someone else, and definitely brings joy, so that’s staying!

Does this clutter impact on the ability to do a good job? We’d all say not, but until you clear some space how can you honestly know? Having a clear space can give you the focus you need when undertaking projects, reports or planning strategies.

Take a dispassionate view of your workspace…what could you do without and what’s just hanging around because you’ve not really looked before?

Career decluttering

This can take a number of forms.

  1. You may want to take time to look at where you are currently in your role – does your job spark joy? Do you need it to in order to progress on the path you’ve identified? Where you are aiming to be going forward and do you need to make big changes in your career? If so, what do you need to plan to make this happen?
  2. Or it could be as simple as deciding not to attend so many meetings where there’s lots of talking but few actionable outcomes.
  3. Reviewing the use of your time in work (see 2 above) – whether remotely working or sat at your desk – is there a better way for you to make changes that benefit you both professionally and personally?
  4. Difficult colleagues – are they draining you of energy? Do you need to tackle the impact they are having on your wellbeing? Are they affecting others too? Is it time to speak with management and do something proactive about dealing with their negativity or underperformance? The easier path is to accept the status quo and do nothing, but taking a step back and deciding that you are going to “declutter” their attitude may enhance your time at work.

The standard decluttering boxes of Keep, Donate, Dump can be used for your work environment.

  • Keep what you need to do your job effectively and those things that spark some form of joy and fun in the workplace;
  • Donate – anything that others may find useful – maybe that leadership book that you read and now would be of interest to a young manager coming up through the ranks
  • Dump – anything that impacts on your ability to do a good job, whether that be a broken stapler, or a colleague that is draining your energy and enthusiasm for what you do.

Decluttering personally or professionally can be daunting – but using the method of starting small, creating a habit, focusing on what’s important to you and doing it regularly, make a start and see where it takes you.

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