PapierstapelMy storeroom was packed to the gills. My office closet was worse. It was time to clear some of my stuff out.

Today’s venture started with gathering and testing my old photo studio lights so my daughter-in-law can have an easier time taking pictures of products for her cool Etsy shop.

I’ve got a set of terrific soft-box, daylight studio lights that work beautifully. My old lights work fine and will serve her well.

Pulling out those cases required making room to get at those cases – then realizing the stuff blocking those cases was, well, more stuff.

I hadn’t touched a lot of that stuff in years. We’d moved this stuff across state lines multiple times – but I hadn’t referred to it or used it in a long, long time.

Clearing space in the storeroom prompted clearing books and materials from my office closet. Some of the storeroom stuff really belonged in my office closet. My wife needed more space in the storeroom. She helped pack boxes of college textbooks and course materials for the library, for the charity store, and for the dump. Her help made the work go quickly.

In two hours we got space cleared for her needs and for my needs – and we are donating things that others will benefit from immediately.

And, there’s much more stuff that needs to go. It’s plain to see that I keep stuff way beyond it’s potential value.

The problem with having all that stuff is that it requires energy to manage it. If I need something, I look through shelves of books and drawers of files. It slows me down – I have to stop writing (and creating) to sift through my stuff. Too often, I don’t find what I thought was going to be helpful. And, my train of thought, so strong just minutes before, is now derailed.

What clutter gets in the way of your clear thinking, clear creating, clear service, and clear contribution? Some clutter is literal – old files and books and boxes of stuff. Some clutter is figurative – but it disturbs our efforts just the same.

For example, do you rely on dusty, maybe even rusty knowledge or skills to get work done today? Have new, more efficient ways to contribute passed you by?

Do you rely on antiquated systems or processes to stay in touch with internal and external customers? Have new means to engage and connect with peers and customers not made an impression on you, yet?

Have you made assumptions about others’ skills or agendas that inhibit effective teaming and prompt resolution of issues?

In my work with leaders at all levels of organizations, I see this all the time.

If we’re not evolving, we’re eroding. Take the time regularly to clean the lenses, clear the clutter, and start a bit fresher than we were before.

What clutter gets in the way of your best work and your best self? Share your comments and insights on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google +.

How healthy is your team or company’s culture? Don’t guess – get the data with my online Culture Effectiveness Assessment.

Want hands-on guidance for building a safe, inspiring workplace? Join me in Denver for my Culture Leadership Roundtable. This one-morning-a-month series, based on my book, The Culture Engine, starts in March 2015 and ends in September.

Photo © hd-design – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

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The music heard on these podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.

S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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