3 Huge Ways Clutter Clogs Communication


You may wonder, sometimes, or actually quite often, how a certain topic on this blog relates to its stated purpose — promoting clear communication. The bottom line is, communication is connected to everything. Our communication reflects ourselves, via intended and unintended ways.

One clue to the way clutter affects us is the writing adage, Clear writing follows clear thinking. Clear thinking is seldom evident in the first draft.

1. Clutter distracts us. Finding that paper, seeing visual reminders of pending tasks, it keeps us not focused on the task at hand.

2. Clutter reflects procrastination. If we have clutter, it’s because we haven’t made decisions about where to put something, or whether to throw it out. Procrastination is another form of distraction; see number 1.

3. Clutter agitates. It’s hard to be calm with lot’s of stuff hanging around. It keeps us from hearing that quiet voice inside us, the one sometimes called our “intuition.” We’re not going below the surface of things amidst a bunch of junk on our desks.

Clutter is not actually just the stuff laying around, although that is a part of it. Clutter is always small, unimportant activities that have no real meaning for you. Maybe they’re unavoidable, some of them. Maybe you can get rid of some by facing the fact that you took on a stupid so-called responsibility without really thinking about it.

I used to do this and get mad at the person who asked me to work a shift at a charity event, for example, when I was already overwhelmed. I would, for some mysterious reason, feel like if I didn’t accept then it wouldn’t get done (how’s that for egotism!) and then resent having to do the thing.

When I started graduate school in 2003, on top of teaching and caring for my family, I realized I had to cut back on every single non-essential task, or I wasn’t going to make it. I had a itchy mean red rash to inform me of this truth.

Guess what, everything survived without my participation. People get used to asking for your help because they know they can “count of you.” The same fear of making firm decisions, or refusing to do a certain task, that can clutter your office or your home.

Clear communication of all forms follows clear thinking.

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