Is Clutter Killing Your Career, You?

I know, the title sounds dramatic. A bit like the teaser for your local six o’clock news during sweeps, but it’s absolutely true. Your home office could be killing you or at the least, your career. Right now. Wait, before you jump up and run for the front yard let me explain…

Clutter kills.

You don’t have to have junk piled up to the ceiling like some reality TV shows, but disorganization in any area can affect others. Gone are the days of the lovable, messy writer whose creative passion overflows into piles and piles of papers, books and knickknacks. True genius is knowing where everything is and being able to locate it within moments.

Time thief.

Shifting though papers and the like steals minute amounts of time that add to hours and hours before you know it. Think about it, if you spend 10 mins a day looking for various items – your favorite pen, a clean notebook, your phone charger, you’ve racked up up to an hour a week if you work a weekend day. Couldn’t you spend that time on something else that will further your career? Wouldn’t you rather have four extra billable hours a month rather than the time suck that is paper clip hunting?

Inventory loss.

How many pens, notebooks, note cards and other essentials do you lose a year? How about you keep the money you’d normally spend replacing them and put it toward your computer upgrade or a membership into that writing organization or writers conference you’d like to attend?

Inventory loss doesn’t just cover supplies, let’s talk about clips and research materials. Right now if I asked you to provide a clip from an assignment completed two years ago could you do it within five minutes? How about 10? How long do you think an editor with dozens of writers trying to get their attention wants to wait for your email?

Tardy for the party.

Do you arrive to an event on time with business cards and witty conversation in hand or do you arrive with a streak of smoke following you and spend the first half hour of the event calming yourself down and trying to catch your breath? The second mouse gets the cheese, but you have to hope that the other mice are to dumb to fall into the  trap.

Clutter and disorganization – looking for your keys, your business cards, your favorite shoes, purse, wallet, remembering that thing you were supposed to send off to someone at the last minute so you have to run back to the office, sit down at the computer pull it up, attach the file wait……………hit send, jump back up run toward the door, remember you left half of your stuff in the office, run back, pick it up and spend the next 20 minutes swearing at every driver who isn’t late so they aren’t doing 80 in a 45. Not only will you be late, or barely on time and frazzled, you’ll be stressed which leads me to…

Stress death.

I wish I could spend the day in a determined zen state. Calm, collected, focused. However, like most people, I’ve got regular stresses – kids, work, etc. add in the stress of being disorganized and you’ve got a recipe for all kids of stress related illnesses.

How do you eat when you’re on the go? When you’re in between several close deadlines? When you’re running about networking? The difference between eating healthy and not is time. Sure it’s economics sometimes, but you can find healthy foods and prepare them in cost-effective ways saving yourself from greasy take-out or those cookies in the cabinet.

Exercise takes a back seat for most stressed out people. They are too stressed to workout. If you take an hour a day to work out, that’s an hour you’re not hitting the keys! Well, when you don’t hit the gym, pavement or DVD player with that way-too-happy-to-be-sweating-that-much workout guru you are making time be dead 24/7.

So you lose your keys every now and then, do you now have to turn into SNL’s Anal Retentive Chef? Not at all – tomorrow I’ll give some great tips for organizing that fits into your lifestyle and personality.

What do you do to combat clutter? 





5 responses
  1. Hana Haatainen Caye Avatar

    Basket for keys inside the front door. Lots of designated boxes in my office so I can easily reach for business cards, brochures, software CDs, printer ink, tax deductions, instruction manuals, etc. Monthly file folders in a desk drawer. Index cards — something I use all the time for my projects and file as soon as a job is paid for. These are essential for me!

    It’s taken me awhile to get a system down, but it helps immensely and keeping my office looking good, helps me to focus on work and not the mess.

  2. Noemi Twigg Avatar
    Noemi Twigg

    Clutter is killing me, period. Oh, and I am also using it in the other ways – mentally, etc. – not just literally. I can’t wait to read your tips in the next post, Terreece.

  3. Misti Sandefur, Christian Fiction Author Avatar

    I don’t know about other writers, but if my workspace is cluttered and disorganized, I can’t think. Really, I can’t! I don’t know why, but it affects my concentration, and I can’t write well until I tackle the mess.

    Here are a few things I do to keep my workspace organized and free of clutter:

    1. Keep a trash can near my desk.

    2. Invest in a desk with drawers. A few years ago I bought a desk with drawers so I’d have plenty of space for novels in progress, printing paper and other items that I use often.

    3. Tidy up every evening before I begin work. In addition, lighting a Glade oil scented candle near where I’ll be working helps me think and makes the room smell cleaner, especially the clean linen scent.

    4. Keep a file cabinet and place the folders in alphabetical order. This is a great way to stay organized, because when you have something you need to file, just take it directly to the cabinet and place it in its folder. Since the folders are in alphabetical order, it makes them easy to find, so the task only takes about a minute to complete.

    Yes, I realize we’re in the digital age, but I still keep papers such as contracts/writer agreements, business receipts, magazines that published my articles and etc. 😉

    5. Put accessories such as a pen/pencil cup (a coffee cup works too) and supply caddy on the top of your desk. The supply caddy is great for paper clips and other small items, and, of course, the pen/pencil cup is wonderful for keeping track of your pens and pencils. Well, unless you have children that snatch them and don’t return ’em. 🙂

    Hopefully these few tips will help you and your readers keep their workspace free of clutter.

  4. David Avatar

    Not fair. I have so many careers.. I need supplies… Some could see it as clutter.. I see it as inspiration.. sometimes. Ive got juggling equipment in the kitchen.. magic stuff in the dining room.. and lose pens ? I probably have ten mugs of twenty pens in each .. within reach. Is that clutter ??

  5. Em Avatar

    Can we talk about e-mail clutter? The horror of the perpetually overflowing inbox…

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