Clutter and Accumulation
Our stuff can weigh us down and hold us back.  Staying light and nimble will ease the journey.

A couple of weekends ago we helped our son move into a new apartment.  He spent his first couple years out of college living with some high school buddies down in a hip section of the city in what amounted to a frat house.  As is typical, the time came to live on his own and move into more “adult” digs, and he picked out a nice apartment nearby. When moving time came, his mother and sister helped him get it cleaned and set up; I was tasked with helping him move stuff from one apartment to another (think beast of burden). In the two short years in his old apartment, he and his roommates accumulated lots of stuff – some great things – some good, many mediocre, and lots of junk.  Keep in mind that he still has much of his childhood stash in his old bedroom at our house. So as he prepared for this move, he purged a bunch of what he accumulated in the apartment and we moved the rest, implying that he would go through and purge some more as he settles in.

I was speaking with a colleague the following Monday telling him about my weekend activities.  When I mentioned how surprised I was about all the stuff, he observed “that is no difference than in business, where we accumulate all kinds of things; stuff, habits, data, and processes that tend to become clutter and weigh us down”.  We went on to discuss how the moving process forces us to deal with the clutter and make decisions. We questioned that since the clutter seems to weigh us down and distract us, why we don’t deal with it more proactively.

As I look back on our business, I see these issues also affected our methods and processes for delivering our services.  When processes lose their relevance, they start receding into the background and end up never to be used again. However, they caused clutter which made it more difficult and distracting to find the current relevant processes.  Data is another area where we accumulate clutter: email, files, apps (exacerbated by the proliferation of the Cloud and Mobile); even with search, I find myself challenged to find things I am looking for; it seems that no one is ever tasked to go back and purge.

So here are my two main takeaways…

  • Be thoughtful when accumulating.  Many of the things one buys are impulsive, bright shiny objects that turn into mediocre or bad purchases.
  • Periodically review and purge.  Sometimes this means a heavy “spring” cleaning; other times it is maintenance cleaning.

As we move through life and business, our stuff can weigh us down and hold us back.  Staying light and nimble will ease the journey.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to clean out my garage…


What I am reading:
Professional:  Leaders Eat Lastby Simon Sinek – Amazon Link
Why some teams pull together and others don’t.
Personal: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – Amazon Link
He can’t leave his hotel and you won’t want to.