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Cluttered and Distracted

Categories: Announcements

I appreciate things being tidy. I appreciate things being at hand. I often defer things if they are not in my sight. The first and third things do not always go together.

Some people are naturally very tidy, putting things away as soon as they are finished with them, or filing papers in the right place to process at the right time. I'm not one of them, but I live with one. A 2009 NY Times article, An Orderly Office? That's Personal talks about how different people deal with this, and how they need different solutions.

At home I will usually keep at a task until it's done. I often don't allow for time to tidy up afterwards, leaving a "mess" when I rush off to something else. The "mess" exists to remind me that I have more to do, but other tasks are usually prioritised.

My inbox is part of my digital to do list. Anything in there still needs attention. It's rare that I achieve inbox zero at home, but this isn't bad; the emails are not in the way of other people. (Inbox zero at work is something I achieve regularly.)

I have improved in some ways. I no longer like to see dishes left, and usually within half-an-hour of dinner everything is cleaned up. Even cooking will have me washing dishes as I go, making the exotic dish look easier than it was.

If I'm trying to clean up I find it very easy to carry something to another room, and get distracted there.

Depending on the task, and if I'm alone, I will have low-attention music or podcasts or audio books playing. If the tasks permits, such as cooking, I might have a new TED Talks video playing on my laptop. These exist to focus my distractability and let me stay in the room and complete the task.

(On a safety note, I'm very careful to have my distractions in the kitchen when I'm cooking.)

However this is not enough. I'm happy with the way my email inbox is, but the rest isn't fair on the people around me.

I've tried to pick up tips from unclutterer.com. I see now that Inherited clutter, and growing up with a depression-era hoarder are part of my problem with having so many things. It's hard to get over the it might come be useful one day thoughts. I know I don't need my school year books. Heck, I know where to lay my hands on them but I doubt I've read them since school. At least they're not part of the visual clutter.

I have an extensive book collection. I started keeping it online and giving away the books I know I'll never re-read. Some I register with Bookcrossing so that I "still have them"; without the storage space.

I have a pile of books to read. Some test books as part of my last Amazon order. Others I've received for free via Bookmooch. I know that if I put them away I'll stop thinking how I should be reading them.

Can anyone help me? How do you deal with your distracting clutter?

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By Brian Logan Permalink Tue 23-Aug-2011

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