Thursday, August 7, 2014

Silence is Golden (And So is a Clean Work Space)

I was sitting at my desk tonight trying to come up with a blog post idea.
Surrounded by my mess of a desk, I could hear the semi-muffled T.V. from the other room, my computer humming and my background music bopping away. I was scrolling through my Evernote notebook of blog ideas, but nothing seemed inspired. There was too many sub-par ideas, too much stuff around me and too much noise. Just...too much!

It was overwhelming. 

When I'm overwhelmed, I shut down. I don't want to blog, I don't want to write, and I don't want to create. I just want to sneak off into my cozy bed to read and binge watch some T.V. show, which isn't necessarily a bad thing (ok, maybe the T.V. part...psh), but it doesn't help me accomplish what I really, deep down, want to accomplish (like posting on this blog). There's a name for this, a name you know well, I'm sure.

Writer's Block (duh, duh, DUH) 

or if we're talking more general-like


I was reading a blog post by Young Yankee Lady on finding focus (aka I was not writing), and she made a comment about how cleaning up her clutter helps her focus. And I was inspired to de-clutter my work space.  Sure enough *SPOILER ALERT* cleaning up my crap clutter helped me regain my focus and get down to business.

For me, my cluttered work space was made up of three types of clutter:

Physical Clutter
This is arguably the easiest clutter to get a handle on. My desk was a huge mess. It had become a dumping ground for papers and knick-knacks. Every time I sat down at my computer to work, I got distracted by all the stuff.So, I filed papers away and threw a lot of stuff out. I took it from this:
Feel free to judge me. It's pretty slobby looking, I know. 
I wasn't aiming for a pristine desk while I was de-cluttering (I still have some cable management issues, tehe). Instead I was trying to get it back to a manageable place. A little mess is fine, so long as it's not distracting, so long as it's a functional mess. I didn't want to get so obsessed with decluttering that I forgot the whole purpose of it! After cleaning, it looked like this:

Mental Clutter
Mental clutter is all of those partial thoughts and ideas that are roaming around your brain and begging for attention. If you're anything like me, I have a hard time focusing in on one idea when other worries or thoughts are consuming me. 

To clear my mental clutter, I did a good old-fashioned brain dump. I got out a piece of paper and wrote down all the blogging/writing thoughts I had. Then I stroked out the ones that weren't usable and entered everything into my Evernote notebook of blog ideas. I also did some journaling. I wrote down some personal thoughts and feelings that were bothering me. It really helped to get everything out of my brain and onto paper; I felt like I could release that mental clutter and focus. 

Audio Clutter
This type of clutter is one that I didn't realize mattered. Audio clutter is all the background noise in your workstation. Music is great, in fact I'm listening to it as I write this, but sometimes silence is golden. I find that if I can hear the TV, the computer, the music and whatever is going on outside when I'm already feeling overwhelmed, it puts me over the edge. It's the straw that breaks the camel's back of productivity, so to speak. 

My solution? Turn off anything that you can and block out the rest with earplugs. The gift of my little yellow earplugs (see in picture above) from my sister was one of the best gifts to my blog ever.

And that, my blogging friends, is how I decluttered and got back on track. What about you? What do you find overwhelming and how do you deal with it? Are you a declutterer or do you have other methods? Let me know all of your thoughts and comments on this topic. I'm curious to hear them!

Reading: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
Listening: City and Colour
Watching: Rookie Blue


  1. There's is nothing quite like sitting down in a clean workspace and having everything in order. I've never actually thought about needing to clear away audio clutter as well, but I can definitely see that that would be an issue. Now I come to think of it, I really do work worse when there's a lawnmower going, or sounds of people having a good time without me. I'm going to have to do some decluttering before I start my edits I think.

    1. Yes, decluttering feels so good! Audio clutter wasn't really something I thought of either, until I started really thinking about what was inhibiting my workflow.

      Good luck with your decluttering!

  2. My desk isn't in a huge mess right now, but it definitely will need a reorganization/clean up soon. I have to do routine reorganizations, because after a while, my desk just gets messy again. I definitely agree that cleaning up my workspace helps me work a lot better. I can focus on my work instead of how messy my desk is.

    I'm not really affected by audio clutter, but definitely mental clutter. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed at how much I need to complete that I just can't bring myself to start doing any of my tasks.

    Thanks for this post! It's encouraged me to go clean up desk.

    1. Your desk habits sounds a lot like my desk habits, tehe.

      Audio clutter is one of those things that I've noticed doesn't affect everybody. Some people are great at tuning noise out, and I wish I was one of those people, but I'm not. You're lucky!

      You're welcome for this post. Hope your desk turns out nice and organized.

  3. This was a really nice post. I'm not exactly cluttered right now, cause I'm still on a break from school etc but I think this is a good reference post for when my studies do start :D

    1. Thanks! Happy to help! And lucky you; you don't have to start school yet:)

      Thanks for commenting!


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