A few days ago, a friend of Facebook posted a screenshot of their computer desktop and it was total chaos, with hundreds of folders and files filling the screen. She was proud of how busy she was, and I don’t doubt it, but it got me thinking about the intersection of busyness and clutter. I think it works something like this:
Starting on the left, when you don’t have much going on, you tend to not have as much digital clutter. As you get busier, things get worse. I think my friend was at the peak of this chart — as busy as possible, but not nearly fully productive. I’ve been there too.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Michael Hyatt lately, as I find him to be incredibly productive, but with virtually no clutter — he’s likely as far to the right on that chart as anyone I can think of. Part of that is the systems that he uses (and the staff to help him), but it’s not an accident. He’s worked hard to keep things streamlined and running smoothly so he can be as productive as possible. If you have a desktop full of icons and an inbox full of email, you simply are putting yourself at a big disadvantage.
I’m certainly not all the way there yet, but I work on it constantly. I do a good job of keeping my desktop and inbox clean, but I still deal with digital distractions that pop up and should be delegated elsewhere.
I recently picked up Michael’s Full Focus Planner, which is something I didn’t think I’d ever do. Having a paper planner to go alongside all of the digital tools that I use seemed foolish, but I’m beginning to come around. I still expect to use all of my fun digital tools to keep things humming, but spending a bit of time at the beginning of each day (and each week) to sit back and plan things out seems like a great way to go. I’m early in this process, but enjoying it so far.
If you find yourself in the middle of that chart and think “I just can’t push any harder”, you’re probably right. Work on finding ways to clear the clutter so you can focus and get more done, and hopefully you’ll continue to work toward the high productivity / low clutter end of the scale.