Often, with inspiration and distractions, which lead to more inspiration and distraction, I find myself with a ton of new ideas written down on scratch paper, napkins, magazines, and digital apps on my phone. I also have pages of magazines with post-it’s, print-outs of pics, and massive amounts of images saved to my iPhone and on a folder on my desktop.
As great men once said time and time again:
It all starts with an idea.
That’s great and all, but I have a shit-ton of ideas lingering EVERYWHERE. But it’s also not just ideas, but the accumulation of crap that, to me, just happen to show up. I buy Blu-Rays, video games, magazines, books, clothes, etc., just stuff that some of us would never think too much about until we start running out of space to store them all.
I have mountains of movies and seas of notepads with scribbles and doodles written on them. It looks pretty gnarly from an artistic perspective. Personally, I find it difficult to work in a cluttered environment. Even though I do find myself working through it anyway, my mind is usually working more when there are things around me that distract my attention away from the work. Don’t even get me started on email. I’ve still yet to find a way to nail the crap that gets past my filters.
I made a promise a while back to keep myself as lean and efficient as possible. Only purchasing and keeping things that have value to them. The word materialistic comes to mind when I think of the problem of storing items. Also, shopaholic. Both of which I used to be.
So to battle this problem of information inundation and material clutter I adopted a weekly purging sessions. And even though I may not do it EVERY week, it has made a massive difference in keeping me sane and focused.
THE KEY TO UNCLUTTERING: THE PURGE
Simply stated, purging is getting rid of shit. The extraneous, unnecessary, wouldn’t-notice-it-was-gone… shit. These are some reasons why I purge:
To release any mental buffers and distractions. When it comes to information (ideas, notes, etc.), I know that when they’re in a better place to reference later, I don’t think about them. I know that when I DO need the info, I have just the right place to check. Boom.
A clutter-free environment is a stress free environment. When there’s nothing around that’s battling for your attention, you have an opportunity to feel at ease. Period.
A clutter-free environment is a creative-inducing environment. Some may disagree with me on this, and I personally know a few awesome artists who are not the most well-kept bunch of people. But on my end, when I’m not thinking of anything else BUT the work, magic happens. A clear mind leads to clear thoughts, and that starts with your surroundings.
There’s sexiness in cleanliness. Seriously, when there isn’t shit lying around everywhere, that’s a more comfortable setting, especially when the lady friends are over. Add a throw pillow and some tea lights and well… that’s another post altogether.
THE PURGE SESSION
My purging sessions happen at least once a week, or at least my attempts are (successes are about 1 out of 3). It doesn’t matter what day during the week, the important thing is it happens and you don’t stop until you’re finished. My day is usually a Sunday because Mondays I have my WORK SESSION BLOCKS. (I may have to write about my scheduling protocols one day, but note: I tend to work in hourly blocks)
Now there are two general categories for purging: INFORMATION and PHYSICAL ITEMS. Information is, as I’ve described already, anything written down that needs a place to live. Physical items are just that, PHYSICAL items that DON’T already have a place to call home OR those items that are now deemed unimportant.
The general rule is: if it’s not important, junk it.
I also have criteria that go like this: If I haven’t seen or used it in over a year and there’s no value in it, junk it. This works well for me with movies that I’ve purchased but ended up being nothing more than a one-time viewing. Of course you don’t have to junk it literally, but you can put it in an area that can go to The Salvation Army or any place that recycles or takes in used items.
Feel free to come up with more filters if need be, but for simplicity’s the general rule should suffice.
With those judgments out of the way, let’s get started.
- Start with what’s bugging you the most. Anything that stands out to me is what’s going to be worked on first. If there’s a stack of papers that on your desk, just go through them and toss out the stuff that doesn’t matter. You’re not organizing or filing anything just tossing. Put aside everything with a note on it reminding you to file or organize. Save the consolidating and organizing for another time when you have the time. This is all about tossing junk.
- Create a list of AREAS to work through. This can be broken down any way you want. I break things down into segments of furniture such as: work desk, filing cabinet, entertainment center, etc.
- Work through AREAS of crap, one at a time. By focusing on one area at a time, you zero in and focus on “junking” which will give you a better metric and sense of how much crap you’ve actually thrown out compared to junking a little bit out of EVERY area and not knowing if you’ve actually done anything.
The goal is NOT to become a hoarder. That tends to be a little expensive when it comes to space as well as time.
I strive to become lean and efficient in my daily life, so purging is a necessary evil. Yet, I’m torn at the same time because in any amount of junk you can find treasure. All you need is that one idea. That’s how I used to think, but now, being a one-hit wonder is unappealing in comparison to being a consistent wonder. And consistency takes practice.
//IMAGE: Hani Amir