Being inclined to be a bit of a paper-accumulator – never know when I might need that piece of paper – I do find it a challenge to keep my work area de-cluttered. But it wasn’t always that way and I can recall when I was so obsessive about having paperwork organised I would take stacks of stuff home and go through and organise them when other, less obsessed people, were in bed asleep.

So for me it was a great leap forward when I got to where a full time, dedicated secretary came with my position. I could just hand stuff over and ask for it to be organised. Not having to go through piles of papers, deciding what really needed my personal attention and what didn’t, made me aware of how much more efficient and effective I could be in doing what I was really being paid to do – which was not really about sorting papers.

When I set up my home based consultancy and coaching businesses no secretary came with the business. In fact, in the early days in business I kind of prided myself on being able to do a lot of the things the secretary used to do, like typing up letters and printing them out.  I was also enjoying not having the responsibility of managing staff. But I recognise these days that I’ve been less than efficient in keeping the paper tiger under control. 

Which is why every now and again I think wistfully about the days when I was privileged enough to have a secretary and other staff who were really expert in keeping my paperwork in order and rescuing me from clutter.

And while I’m at it I must mention that I’ve had no help from reading wholesome articles by people who are obviously compulsive sorters and organisers and can’t quite comprehend how anyone can get cluttered if they follow their five or twelve simple steps religiously every day of their lives. While I’m reading that stuff there is a little voice saying things like ‘that’s not me’ and ‘so is that what you want to achieve in life, being renowned for having a tidy desk?’.

Don’t get me wrong. I do respect those people who seem to be effortlessly tidy and well-organised and still manage to hold intelligent conversation and be highly effective in their business and domestic lives. As long as they don’t tell me how easy it is to be like them!

What to do?

Well, I figure I could do a lot worse than to re-read a great post (and a sequel) by my fellow LinkedIn Blogger, Ariane Benefit from New Jersey, USA, in her excellent Neat Living Blog.

Clearing Clutter – Part 1 – Understanding How Clutter Affects You – Whether you Realize it or Not spells it out in a way I found very credible, convincing and motivating. One reason Ariane is so convincing from my point of view is that she is a professional organizer and ‘Neat Living Coach’ and acknowledges that she herself faces a challenge with clutter. Much more credible for me than hearing from the natural-born neatniks. 

Ariane includes in the post a somewhat mind-numbing list of the deleterious effects on various aspects of life, that can arise from a failure to deal with clutter. Fortunately, to show the rest of us slackers how we might escape these dire consequences of our laziness and/or inefficiency, Ariane offers a remedy for home business clutter-generated redzone syndrome, telling how she and her husband took the US Memorial Day holiday as an opportunity to tackle their clutter together and the happy outcome of that joint effort.

And for anyone wanting lots of clues as to how to de-clutter and keep de-cluttered, Ariane has a related post with reviews of five books on how to deal with clutter.

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