Leadership Tip: Don't Let "Stuff" Get in Your Way of Success

Have you ever walked into someone’s office and papers, folders, magazines, and/or books were in piles all over the place?  Is that the way your office looks? What kind of effect did that have on your confidence in that person’s ability to lead a project, a team or even a company?

Recently, I heard Andrew Mellen, author of Unstuff Your Life!, speak about getting and staying organized.  His talk was very timely and insightful for I have just combined households with my fiancé in preparation for our upcoming marriage.  Actually, his book would have been more timely a few months ago when I began “unstuffing” my condo.  However, going forward I will use some of his action based plans, tips and solutions in getting and staying organized in my new place, including my home office.

Several years ago, I took an 8 week teleclass series on this same topic.  First, there’s getting rid of the clutter or getting “unstuffed”.  Then there’s putting systems in place to get you organized and for you to STAY organized and clutter free. 

Some insights on getting “unstuffed” include:

PLAN YOUR WORK AND WORK YOUR PLAN! 

For example, I divided my office into sections I would conquer each week of my 8 week class.  As co-workers saw me diligently cleaning and organizing my office, they got inspired and began to declutter too!  A plan helps it be more manageable.  I also committed to cleaning 15 minutes per day.  I’d set the timer and go for it. 

Realize that stuff is just stuff. 

I realized in listening to Andrew, that I had trouble getting rid of certain things because I was more attached to the “story” about the item than the item itself.  When you back that out, it’s easier to let go of things you don’t really need.  At work this could be awards, reports, files, etc from a project that you worked really hard on.  Even though that was 5 years ago, you’re still having trouble parting with some or all of it.

Realize that you are not your stuff. 

Some people collect articles, books, magazines and the like thinking they will read them and become smarter or more interesting. You might need them or use them some day.  And so they pile up, usually unread.

Realize that someone else’s stuff is not your stuff.

Are you keeping someone else’s OLD project files that you inherited which haven’t been touched for several years?  Parents, are you keeping your kids stuff and they have been long gone for years? 

Give yourself permission to DO IT NOW.  Someday or later never comes.

Andrew said the average person spends 30-60 minutes a day looking for stuff.  I’m sure there are a lot more productive things you could be doing with your time.  As a business leader, your time is especially valuable.  Getting organized and staying organized will benefit you and your organization greatly. Don’t let stuff get in the way of your success!