Jan left a comment on my post about getting started writing where she said, “I find that I am much more productive if I have projects and things ready to go (that includes a clean desk, nothing scatters my thinking more than a cluttered desk).”
I agreed whole-heartedly and replied, “It’s so nice to hear that somebody else has the same issue with clutter that I do. I HATE working with clutter. I find that it’s like my brain is keeping mental tabs of everything on the desk. ‘I’ll do this first, then that, but that pile over there can wait…’ The more that’s on my desk, the busier my mind is trying to keep track of everything. If the desk is clear, then I can focus.”
Which made me think. I do an excellent job of keeping my physical desk clean, both at home and at work. Years ago, when I worked with my father, he used to say that, if I wasn’t actually at my desk, he could never tell if was gone for the day or not. I would tell him the answer was simple–if my purse was there, so was I. Of course, my father’s desk always looked–still does–like the file drawers had exploded, so to him, a desk with almost no paper was clearly not a functioning desk.
And yet, still, all too often I have trouble focusing on what I need to do, and I realized … my DESK may be clutter-free, but my COMPUTER is not. Right this moment, I’ve got three windows of Firefox open, along with the Explorer file folder, Flickr uploader, and Adobe InDesign. And inside those Firefox windows? Thirteen open tabs.
No wonder I keep getting distracted from what I should be doing. No wonder I’m having trouble sticking to one thing, any thing. I’ve eliminated the surface clutter in my workspace, but not the space on my computer.
This is so obvious, I’m sitting here wondering how on earth I missed it. It doesn’t matter if the clutter is “virtual,” or “real.” If it’s taking up mental space, if it’s a distraction … get rid of it.
Which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have the programs you regularly use open and ready–that’s what efficiency is about–but how many programs or browser windows do you have open that don’t need to be open?
Now, you’ll have to excuse me. I’ve got some windows and browser tabs to close …
What does your computer screen look like?