Mess is murdering my productivity

by James Macintyre 30/1/15

Most weeks, my desk is a disaster full of papers and files and sticky notes with sparks of ideas just like below. Yes, you may say I’m typically a creative type.

Creative type example: disorganised and dishevelled

I put his down to the artist in me; to be honest this is somewhat embarrassing.

Mess is not my friend; it is my true enemy

Mess equates to procrastination. It is my resistance, a subtle form of stalling and self-sabotage. It keeps me (and you) from creating stuff that matters and makes the difference.

The mess is not inevitable. It is not cute or quirky. It is an enemy, and it is killing my art.

Clean up our mess!

Bringing your message to the world does not begin on the stage or TV. It starts at home, in the kitchen at work sat at your desk, on our chaotic computers.

We need to clear our life’s from the distractions, not everything, but enough so that there’s room for you to create.

Do it with your profiles online, it’s no secret that friends, nosy family members, and potential employers will all take to Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. They look for more information about you when they want it.

In the case of family and friends, they already know you. When it comes to potential employers or people interested in working with you, it’s important to make sure that the things they find about you are representative of who you are (or who you want them to think you are.)

The relationship between clutter and creativity is back to front. The more you have of the former, the less you have of the latter. Mess can enhance stress. Which is far from an ideal environment for being the brilliant person, you are.

Make more with less

I was once told, “inspiration comes from restriction. If you want to be inspired, then give yourself boundaries. That’s where art can blossom.

At a public speaking conference last year, I learned this truth, as it relates to communication. An important adage the presenters often repeated was: If you can’t say it in three minutes, you can’t say it in 30.

We spent the conference writing and delivering five-minute speeches every day. I learned that if you could summarise our ideas in a four or five short sentences, then you found it hard to elaborate on them for half an hour.

Sure, you could ramble and rant. However that’s not communicating effectively, its word diatribe.

In a world full of noise, it’s nice not to have to weed through digital SPAM to find the nuggets worth reading. This doesn’t always come naturally. Briefly getting your point across is a discipline learnt.

I like to talk — a lot. I often share ideas out loud as they come to me and hold audience. However when other people do it then I switch off. So I’m trying to master the art of working clutter-free in both writing and audio.

It can be said in five words instead of 50

This process of cleaning up your message is not intuitive for people. But it is important — an essential discipline for anyone with something to say.

If you don’t know where to begin, here are some top tips:

  1. Reclaim your inbox. Throw away magazines and newspapers you have no intention of reading. Clean up your email, getting it down to a manageable amount (zero, if you can).
  2. Clean up your desk and desk top. Again, throw away stuff you haven’t used in months.
  3. Find a clean space to create. This is different for everyone, but it needs to not stress you out.
  4. Limit distractions. Arrange certain times in the day to email, phone, and social media tools. Force yourself to focus on one thing at a time.
  5. Start creating clutter-free messages. Remember: less is more. Use restrictions to be more creative.
  6. Repeat this for the rest of your life.

Books to read:

  • Gemba-Kaizen-Commonsense-Continuous-Improvement
  • Anyone Can Do It: My Story by Duncan Bannatyne
  • Get Organized: How to Clean Up Your Messy Digital Life

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