Thursday, February 28, 2008

Serenity Enemy: Clutter

Recently a self-employed person came to me with this block to her serenity:

During the week, I'm too busy to clean my office, and just can't seen to be able to justify taking the time to organize it all. On the weekends, I don't feel like going in my office and doing work stuff. So, cleaning my office seems to fit in no where. It's a great space, really the best in my condo, and where I spend the majority of my time. But it's so disorganized and undecorated (aside from matching furniture I bought at IKEA when I moved in) that I don't enjoy being in here at all. I'm embarrassed when others see it, and I complain about it all the time.

This is such a common problem. Is this about serenity? I'm not sure. I do know that being unable to find things (especially bills) can lead to tremendous stress, discontent and worry. And if you don't like what you look at every day in your office, chances are you aren't enjoying your work as much as you could be. (And as I've said before, if you're happy and grateful, you are much more likely to pay it forward.)

So what to do?

First, I'll suggest something that I do once a month:

Sit in a comfortable position, before the stress of the workday is upon you (you can do this in bed as you're waking). Close your eyes and breathe deeply. As you settle in, ask yourself this question: "What do you want your office to look like?"

You can get more specific, and I often do:

* What would be most abundant and serene for you?
* What do you see when you look at your office in your mind's eye?
* What's one thing you can do to make your office more like this today?

This is, as my friends call it, a visions meditation. Create a vision for yourself, something that excites you and gets you enthusiastic about making the change in your office.

I do this once a month and I often have the same vision: Cherry wood desk with tempered glass top, lots of plants, free of clutter, overlooking a big window with a view of trees or a garden.

When I look around my office this very second, I don't have that view. But what I do see is a big window, a bookshelf with cherry wood and tempered glass shelves and a small bouquet of dazzlingly yellow freesia. It's a small thing, but it makes me happy. And I'm aware that it's a process.

Now, there are lots of ways you can bring this vision into being. The way I do it is to do one hard thing toward cleaning your office a day.

But professional organizer and former freelance writer Janine Adams uses an online motivational tool To help her clean off her desk at the end of every workday. Here's what she says:

"My big obstacle when I was freelancing and until recently as a professional organizer was as messy desk. I couldn't get myself to clear it at the end of the workday, even though I knew I was much more productive on the rare occasions that I had a clean desk when I arrived at work in the morning. But this year, it's changed. I cleaned my desk off thoroughly on January 5 and, with the help of to build the habit, I've cleared it off every single day, save one Saturday when I left my knitting on it. That habit alone has really, truly affected my work serenity."

There are still other ways you can do it. You can set a timer and do 5 minutes of cleaning every day. I even have friends who have "clutter buddies" who come over and sit with them as they clean their offices, because they can't seem to motivate without that kind of support.

The point is, of course, not to do this the One Right Way, but to make a start.

What do you do to bring serenity back to your office?

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