Set the standard as your company's leader and de-clutter your life.

Photo credit: ©istockphoto.com/Silvia Jansen


I’ve had several clients ask me to coach them regarding organization recently. They all talk about similar struggles: “One of my biggest challenges is that I’m just not organized. I never seem to have things in the right place. I feel overwhelmed.”

I can definitely relate to this dilemma. I have challenges remaining organized myself. In fact, many business leaders and entrepreneurs that I know struggle when it comes to the concept of organization. Although it might seem trivial in the scheme of things, maintaining order is a crucial aspect of overall success in business and life. The state of our surroundings is directly related to our level of productivity.

Whether we are aware of it or not, we internalize our external environment. I call it mind clutter.

Have you ever had to get up in the middle of the night to write something down because you were replaying it over and over in your head, hoping you’d remember it in the morning? That’s mind clutter!

Have you ever watched a show with your teenager on MTV and after the program you’re completely exhausted because the camera switches screen shots every second? That’s mind clutter!

Have you ever sat down at your office desk and shuffled one set of papers to the other side of the desk, only to realize they won’t fit there either, so you decide to “begin” a stack on the floor next to your desk? I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has ever done that. That’s mind clutter!

Remember, you’re a business leader. Regardless of the size or type of your company, you are setting the standard as the leader. As you are, so will be your company. If you’re disorganized, your company will be disorganized. If you can’t put things in their place and deal with them in a timely manner, you cannot expect your team to accomplish tasks efficiently either. This is one area where you must truly lead by example.

Three Drawbacks Of Mind Clutter

Several years ago, I returned home from a training meeting with that extra excitement and “juice” that comes from a great learning experience outside of the office. I decided to clean up the clutter in my own workspace. Without saying anything to anyone, I began to organize my desk. Then I cleared all the stacks of papers from my shelves, rearranged my pictures and awards on the walls, and dusted everything as I went. Then, a very interesting thing began to happen.

John, my general manager, suddenly started to clean up his office, getting rid of clutter he had accumulated. A little later, when I returned from running an errand, I saw that our office manager had begun de-cluttering the call center as well. All of this action was taking place and I hadn’t asked them to clean up one single thing. I simply began doing it myself. We always lead by example whether we realize it or not.

1. Clutter wastes time. Being disorganized causes us to waste time looking for that certain document or file we need but aren’t sure where it is. If we spend 10 minutes a day looking for something that has been misplaced, it adds up to 60 hours in one year. That’s a lot of wasted time that could be spent on something more productive.

2. Clutter wastes money. Consider the warehouse at your company. If you can’t find an item, or maybe don’t even know if you have it, you’ll end up purchasing a duplicate item and waste your hard-earned money. This happens in many places other than the warehouse, but we can all relate to that example.

3. Clutter wastes energy. If you have to move it, clean it or work around it for any reason, you’re wasting a vital resource: energy. It takes much less energy to put something in its place, create a file for it or effectively delegate a task than it does to “deal with it later.”

Schedule time to go through those pesky stacks of papers and eliminate any clutter that has accumulated in your office and home. It will really start to free up your mental and physical energy. As your surroundings become organized, you will minimize chaos in your life and feel a renewed sense of freedom and accomplishment.

Removing Clutter

After working with my clients on the subject of organization, I recently took a personal inventory to see if I had any clutter in my own life, and guess what? I did!

My wonderful wife Christy and I did a walkthrough of our home office and found papers that needed to be filed, documents that needed to be hung on the wall and shelves that had to be straightened. Taking care of these things removed mind clutter so I can work at peak effectiveness when I am shooting a video in my studio, hosting a webinar, coaching a client on the phone or whatever else requires my attention.

When we finished organizing the office, we moved on to the garage, sorted through the clutter and donated items we hadn’t used in years. Now it feels great when we get home and hit the garage door opener to enter a space that’s neat, clean and has a feeling of productivity.

We deal with many challenges in our businesses each day. I’m an advocate of stacking the odds in our favor so we can be as connected, clear and productive as possible. What about you? What areas do you need to “clean up” in order to be as effective as possible? I‘m sure you can think of a few. Make a checklist and commit to organizing each item that you listed. You’ll positively impact your company, your team and your productivity by simply removing clutter.

As the leader of your company, the initiative lies with you. Take an hour this weekend or reserve an hour next week, but make sure to schedule your “de-clutter” time just like an important meeting you must attend. Remove disorder from your life and realize how much your mind loves getting rid of the clutter. Be prepared to watch your productivity improve!

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