clear-deskOne of the things that makes it so difficult for us to stay organized is the need to fill empty spaces.  I’m not entirely sure where this need comes from, but I have seen that it is very real.

Sometimes the folks I work with make me feel like I’m doing TOO good of a job.  We may create a completely clear work surface and a couple clear shelves and they may declare “Well, what’s going to go there?”  The pendulum has swung from being overwhelmed with clutter to being under-whelmed without clutter.

I guess it comes down to being careful what you wish for, but emptiness is a good problem to have.  It’s much easier to fill empty space than to create it.  Perhaps the panic sets in at the thought of what needs to fill that space to block the wrong thing from creeping back in.  It takes some getting used to, but empty is good.  Empty means options and therefore empty is full.

I am not a practitioner of Feng Shui, but the part of the philosophy that really rings true to me has to do with the flow of chi (energy).  The thinking is that there is energy in everything and the more stuff there is in your environment, the more the energy is blocked.  When you clear that stuff, you release the energy.

Consider how energized you feel in a heavily cluttered environment compared to clear space, like a house of worship, meeting hall, or welcoming home.  In clear environments there is more of an opportunity to make meaningful relationships with fellow humans and new experiences.  The more you are surrounded by clutter, the more likely you are to form unhealthy relationships with your stuff.

An empty desk, on the other hand, is FULL of possibilities. It is like a blank canvas, where imagination is able to take off, like a jet plane on a clear runway.  My analogy cup runneth over, but you get the idea.

Of course you can’t suddenly transition from seeing everything to needing nothing, but it’s a good idea to start by seeing your clear work surface as sacred and rethinking the priority level of all the stuff that piles up on it.   Has it grown irrelevant? Could the family photos go on a shelf?  Is the booklet something you just need to find reliably? Is there a quantity of action items that just need a reminder for action? It pays to be strict here. It matters.

Resist the urge to fill empty spaces, especially your work surface.  It is nothing less than your most important organizing tool.

Empty surfaces are full of energy and options.  Full sufaces are empty of energy and options.