There seem to be two kinds of people (although I welcome you to let me know if you fall somewhere in between). Those who function well in clutter, and those who don’t.

Here’s a scenario.

A single mother, a business women, has stacks and stacks of paper and files on her office desk. She’s functioned this way for years, running several locations, and a large number of staff. Her employees swear she can’t find anything, but she knows exactly where each and every piece of paper is in that pile. Her daughter, who has spent years of dealing with clutter in the home and office, is the complete opposite. She is a freelancer, entrepreneur, running multiple businesses at once (like most entrepreneurs). Her desk is neat and organized. Her files in order (most of them) and projects each in their own clear plastic folder so she can easily see the project especially when she has multiple projects going on at once. And if it’s not neat and organized, right before a new project starts, it’s a whirlwind of activity, filing, data entry and more.

If you can’t guess, these two polar opposites in approaching work are myself and my mother. We are polar opposites on how we approach our daily work life.

That’s not to say we don’t have our moments where we function like the other one. As I look around my living room right now, it is far more cluttered than I like. Which likely means I will annoy my household on a cleaning and organizing spree this weekend. It’s ok, they’re used to it. I do enjoy my Sundays of going through any of the magazines that have built up over time.

The question came up as to why I function better with a structured, less cluttered, organized space. I’ve decided it’s because I function better with organization, clearly defined spaces and storage for items and projects. I like to be able to find things and because I do so many different things (i.e., not all related to the same line of business), I can’t rely on my semi-photographic memory to let me remember exactly where in a pile of papers a particular item is. I can rely on my memory if I’ve placed the self defense projects in one place and the writing projects in another, if even they sometimes do overlap.

A friend of mine, who prefers keeping her files piled so she can easily get to them said she knows exactly where everything is. A to be filed pile, to do, working, invoices, etc. I realized. I have those too. Mine are off my desk though, behind me in a vertical filing structure so that I can easily reach them and switch between ‘hats’ – or lines of business.

Hmm, maybe we just approach organization differently. I use several tools to declutter my desk/office space:

  1. Clear project folders
  2. A defined snail mail box
  3. Franklin Day Planner
  4. Google Calendar
  5. iPad & iPhone to sync notes, etc.
  6. Gmail – can get my email anywhere
  7. Task lists – I used to use paper ones and now I found electronic post it notes for my screen. Been working GREAT.

Post up some of the ways you stay organized, perhaps you’ll find some new ways to try to keep yourself on track and focused on your goals. I know I need to figure out a better way to keep track of invoices, receipts, etc., so if you have any ideas there, share!

Photo from: Interior Design Ideas For a Home Office …

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