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  • Writer's pictureMonique Waggoner

Clear the Clutter: How to Regain Control of Your Work Space & Business

Updated: Oct 2, 2020

Back to Basics Series #1

We can joke that a "clean desk is a sign of a sick mind", but in reality, clutter costs us. It steals time, energy, and creativity. Clutter is not just the piles of things on your desk, but it can also be the mental fog and chaos in your mind, emotions and relationships.

The goal of this article is to help you clear all (well, most) of that clutter so you can regain control of not just your work spaces, but also your business.


Author Tisha Morris describes clutter as "stagnant energy." Clutter on the outside can hint to clutter on the inside. Some scientific studies suggest clutter is a clue to our emotional state. Unused items can signal we are afraid of the future. Unfinished projects speak to perfectionism; perhaps a reminder we failed in the past and don't want to fail again.

When we dive into clutter, it released the stress hormone cortisol. Since it released this hormone to protect us from danger, decluttering brings out an emotional state of protection. NOW you know why it is so hard to throw all those scrapes of a paper away.

Not only do we feel stress about decluttering, but we feel shame about the clutter itself. A nice, neat environment says, "I've got my act together." A cluttered environment says, "not so much." Whether this is true, it's how our mind categorizes the state of clutter. Don't believe me? Think about the last time you strolled into a tidy environment. Got it? Now, think about the last time you strolled into a disorganized and cluttered office or home. What were your thoughts about the capabilities of the person who runs the organization or business?

Clutter creates visual chaos. All businesses rely on creativity. Studies show visual clutter blocks the ability to think of anything new, because the visual field is already trying to process the information in front of it. Clutter competes for your brain's resources. And clutter always wins.


So, how do you overcome the lure of clutter?

Here are some simple ways to take control.

Create Daily Processes

Daily processes can help you stay on task. For some, that might be to daily put away everything on your desk. This physically clears the clutter so you can have a fresh start the next day.

Try this process to see how it can work for you:

Open your email 3 times a day: 30 minutes after the start of your morning, 30 minutes before lunch, and 30 minutes before the end of day. Go through your emails and commit to touch any email that comes in once (ok, maybe twice).

One day per week, invest 30 minutes to clear out and file away your emails. This keeps your inbox from being an overgrown disaster that overwhelms you when you open it.



Lists clear your mind to be creative and reduce your stress. And often, the simple joy of checking off the item creates a sense of empowerment and completion.

Yes! YOU CAN complete what you start! You can do great things.



I love to organize! It should come as no surprise then that I am watching a show on HGTV called Hot Mess House, which is all about organization. The host Cassandra says, "You're not disorganized — you're just not organizing for your unique style." So true! My husband and I organize differently. He likes to take over our dining room table and "files" our bills visually so he doesn't forget. I have a magazine holder labeled "current bills". I like to throw our bills in there to clear the clutter and then pull out what I need when I pay bills.


The Power of 15 Minutes

Too much to clear and the task seems overwhelming? Use the power of 15-minute increments to force that clutter into submission.

Set a timer on your phone for 15 minutes. Choose ONE AREA to de-clutter. (IMPORTANT: Focus only on one area at a time.) Pick up an item and take it to the place it belongs and put it away - or throw it in the garbage. Resist the temptation to organize the drawer the items go in! Return to your focus area and continue the process. (Tip: I can get off task if I leave the area I'm cleaning to put something away in another room. If you are like me, label small bins with the names of the different rooms in your space. Place all the items that go in that space in the bin then at the end, take all the contents of the bin to the appropriate space.)

It will amaze you at the progress you make in just 15 minutes of focused attention. Set the time for another 15 minutes and continue working in that area. Or tackle a different location.

Add the Power of 15 Minutes to your Daily Processes and Lists will help you regain your space and clarity before you know it.


I'm curious. What does clearing the clutter mean for you? I'd love for you to share some of your best de-cluttering tips and tricks with us.

And, if you want to learn more about how Waggoner Professional Services can help you take the stress out of running your business, check out our services page at


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