The root cause of your clutter can be deeper than you think. Wise Bread makes a case for fixing your mind to fix your mess.
I've been messy since birth. One of the constants in my life has been arguing with my mother over how to clean the house, any house, properly. My neatnik mother is one of those naturally tidy people. You know the type. She's so put-together that she looks like a flight attendant.
"A cluttered desk equals a cluttered mind," she'd say, passing me the feather duster. "If that's the case," I'd shoot back, quoting Einstein, "Then what does an empty desk signify?"
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I mean, really. Does it even matter that I have a messy mind?
I asked my friend Dr. Regina Lark, who chairs the Education Committee of the National Association of Professional Organizers, if there's any connection between a messy desk and a messy mind.
"Of course," she said.
I hate losing arguments to my mom.
To quote Regina, "There are people who are genetically messy because their brain is hardwired for non-linear thinking. They are very right brained and artistic. They are out there in the world. They are social. They'd rather do anything other than file. So when these people come home, they get an idea for a project, and everything else just goes on the floor."
Uh oh. As of this moment I count seven, SEVEN unfinished projects in my living room alone. On the floor. Of course.
So, how do non-linear thinkers clear their internal and external space? For me, this means less about relieving the footprint of clutter and more about maintaining a level of organization that allows me to spend the maximum amount of time pursuing creative projects.
I asked Regina how she would handle a client like me. "We'd develop a workaround for you. We'd find a fix that would solve the mess but not make you feel like you are losing your creative edge. For example, I have clients who have piles of clothes cluttering their bedrooms because they hate hanging up their clothes. They argue that, 'the clothes are just going to come off the hangers anyway so why put them on the hangers to begin with?' Since I'm never going to convince the clients that hanging up their clothes isn't a total waste of their time, my attitude is, 'If you just can't stand putting your clothes on hangers, let's go get you some really awesome looking hooks.' Take the sticking point — the hangers — out of the equation."
Read on for more.