Monday, July 14, 2008

Who's in Charge Around Here? You or the Clutter?

A frequent theme on Awareness * Connection is productivity and organization in service of making life simpler and reducing the spillover from work, bills, home and car maintenance, etc into the truly important areas of our life, our relationships and our passions. The Getting Things Done approach is fantastic for managing all those areas that like to take over, so that they can be dealt with effectively and efficiently. One potential problem though is that we can begin to put all sorts of things on our next action lists that involve maintaining and organizing all manner of things that are essentially clutter—miscellaneous crap that subtracts from the quality of our lives. The phrase the more you own, the more you are owned comes to mind, and seems to be true on multiple levels. So without taking a look at the clutter issue, we can end up being really effective and efficient with a bunch of junk that gets in the way of living a more fulfilling and rewarding life. This reminds me of Stephen Covey's quip about making sure that before you start getting all excited about how quickly you are scurrying up the ladder, you might want to check to ensure it is against the correct building.

I've got a couple of other books on the docket before It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh. He's the guy from TLC show Clean Sweep. But I'm definitely looking forward to checking it out and looking a little more closely at this aspect of my life. Merlin Mann of 43Folders has high praise for this book. He's in a good place to talk about it judging from his frequent posting about his own batttle with clutter. This has apparently come to a head in his role as a relatively new father. 

I love this title of one of his posts on this: Clutter War II: Attack of the Giant Baby. Boy, he's hit on a big one here. You'd think raising a baby in our current culture entails needing a Lincoln Navigator and a house that would fit at least a couple other families if we didn't have all the stuff. Notice that in the advertising working to convince us that we need all of it, that everything these days with babies involves a "system"—a stroller system, a carseat system...a diaper bag system?!?. Not that some of the stuff isn't really innovative and cool, but let's reign it in a bit here folks. Is it really a diaper bag system?

So just starting by asking, Do I really need, or even want all this stuff in my life? Is it really helping me live the sort of life I want? seem to me like questions worth asking. I'll close with this post with The Hidden Side of What You Own from Think Simple Now. It's a very worthwhile crash course on the same topic as Walsh's book, and a nice place to stimulate a few ideas.

What kinds of things are clutter magnets for you?

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