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Fixing a Hole

For someone who spends as much time in my own head just thinking as I do, I don’t reach very many conclusions. For someone who has as many lists and plans and goals as I do, I don’t get very much done.

Why is this?

I have trouble focusing. I’m overwhelmed by the clutter that surrounds me. I don’t even mean just physical clutter. For example, at any given moment I have 3-5 different internet browser windows, each with 5-20 tabs, open at once. My online to do list has hundreds of tasks sitting in it. There are probably 20 tasks listed for today (I’m not bothering to look), if for no other reason than the program automatically moves tasks not completed from one day to the next. How helpful.

Twelve weeks ago, the clutter situation in my office at work reached a peak. I could barely function around all of the books, and piles of papers, and proliferation of post-it notes. I wrote a post wondering out loud how a perfectionist like me could have an office that looked like that.

Then I read the Pish Posh call to action. She proposed a 12-week “Get Fit Challenge.” The challenge wasn’t just about losing weight. And thank goodness for that, because although I did post a race report to the challenge, I haven’t lost an ounce during the last 12 weeks.

I wasn’t the most devoted Get Fitter, and I didn’t really even articulate explicit goals. But guess what? My work office is clean, my work email inbox is still under control (down from 1,600 emails to zero) and I’m looking forward to chucking the clutter from the rest of my life.


The deepest reaches of Hell (A.K.A. my office)


I’d forgotten what my simulated wood-grain desk looked like.

So what have I learned?

I hold on to too much: clothes in my closet I never wear, books I will never read again, emails I don’t need to keep, songs I always skip on my iPod, tasks I can’t prioritize, things I’ve stumbled across on the internet that I don’t want to forget, blogs I don’t have time to read, and 800 scraps of paper with thoughts I don’t want to, but maybe should allow myself to, forget.

All this crap distracts me from what’s really important. It’s allowed me to stay stagnant. It’s long past time to let this crap go or I will never be able to figure out what I really want to do.

I have to learn to focus on one thing at a time. With pride, I can say that I did NOT check any of my email accounts or Facebook before writing this post this morning. I got up, set a timer for 15 minutes and just wrote. I’m going to edit for 10 minutes, add my pictures and publish this thing. It may not be a perfect post, but I focused on writing it and only on writing it and did not allow myself to get distracted by anything else. Go me.

Do you have trouble staying focused? Or clearing out clutter (physical, digital, mental)? Want to support each other and check in sometimes? Let me know, I need all the help I can get.

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14 Responses to “Fixing a Hole”

  1. Pish Posh
    Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    Oh my gosh, haha! It almost looks like a different office! That’s wonderful!! :) It’s an organizational thing, but a psychological thing just like you suggested. I think making room in our physical space can help us train ourselves to make room in our heads too. Especially for anxieties, worries, and those sorts of things, throw ’em out! Perfect – thank you so much for linking up!

    • logyexpress
      Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 11:20 am #

      Thanks, Pish…for the challenge and for the comments.

      I have to break my habit of leaving things out to “remind” myself to deal with them. This is why there was so much on my desk and why I have so many internet browser tabs open, etc…. Must focus on one thing at a time.

  2. paralaxvu
    Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    But for that second picture, you look and sound just like me! But I quiver miserably at the thought of doing something about it…and sharing it with someone else? What if I can’t do it? Responsibility and I are not very good buddies. But okay, I’ll try it. When done here (give me an hour or two, I haven’t yet read my ebay searches…) I’ll take some pix of my room and post them. Oh, wait, I’ll also have to have time to let the anxiolytics work…

    • logyexpress
      Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 11:23 am #

      I avoided the work cleaning for months. But it felt great to actually do it (probably more because I was tossing annoying work crap; this would be more difficult at home). I was practically gleeful throwing stuff out. Honestly, I’m still sort of looking around wanting to get rid of more (like my active files too!). But again, I think that’s because I’m a little fed up at work right now. Now I’m excited to see your pictures.

  3. Marie
    Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    Oh lordy! I saw your cluttered desk and I wanted to immediately shut down my browser. I had a boss who operated like that, and her computer desktop was even worse! I thank my mother, I think it’s because of her I live such a clutterless life (she’s a mega-hoarder). I couldn’t even get a thought process in action until I’d get everything cleared away…

    How’s your desk today? Is it still as clear as in the 2nd pic? That’s the hardest part. Getting it clean is only a fraction of the battle, keeping it clean is the real war. Kind of like losing weight, keeping it off is the true challenge…

    Once in a while when I visit my sister’s I have to clean out her linen cabinet and every single bathroom of clutter, actually come to think of it I have 2 friends who also keep begging me to visit them again so their cabinets can look fresh again. Hmm… I may have a business idea in the works!

    • logyexpress
      Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 11:29 am #

      Marie, I know what you mean…I LIKE tidiness, I just have trouble maintaining it. I started dreading being in my office and felt trapped by the crap. It’s still clean…but I only finished up the cleaning the day before I posted this.

      I think if I keep working on staying focused, it will be easier to keep this up. In the past I’ve had a tendency to work on several things at once and I would leave them all out to remind myself of them. But I need to rely on my to do list and my memory more. Do I really need to leave that pile of work I probably won’t get to today out on my desk? No, I do not.

      My Dad’s a hoarder. My Mom is not. I’m somewhere in between. I have a lot of difficulty getting rid of things once I acquire them, but I don’t have much compulsion to acquire. Thank god.

  4. nikkiana
    Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

    Well, you certainly convinced me to get my butt out of my chair and clean up some of my surroundings. We’ve been having mad construction at our home recently so our living room was a disaster as a result of that… and I just fixed half of it in five minutes! Woo!

    • logyexpress
      Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 11:32 am #

      It’s really amazing what you can do when you focus. I just have to remind myself to stay focused on one task at a time. I have trouble with that.

  5. curlygeek04
    Monday, May 28, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    Congrats on the office cleaning (and especially the emails)! That is inspiring. I really need this kind of makeover too. At home I’m fairly organized but at work I need to get things under control. We recently found a place where we could drop off all our outdated technology and shredded a giant box of files. The sad thing is it cost $70 to just throw these things away, but we felt better!

    • besidealife
      Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 3:19 am #

      How I have felt your pain, my fellow Tab Queen! But I kind of like your office better in its original, messier state. But then again, I still have over 3400 read messages on my email.

      • logyexpress
        Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 11:40 am #

        You know, I do wonder if I’m going to get more work heaped on me now that my office is so clean. Quite frankly, I think people saw the mess and thought twice before coming in to ask me stuff. People started saying, “I know you’re super busy, but can I ask you something really quick…” maybe that was all due to the mess. The amateur psychologist in me just realized the mess might have been a defense mechanism against more work.


    • logyexpress
      Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 11:36 am #

      Once I set my mind to clearing things out, I actually really enjoyed it. I kept joking to Dave that now if need be, I can make a quick getaway. With the amount I was throwing away, I kept waiting for someone to ask me if I was planning on going somewhere. I even had a snappy reply ready…”Is it that obvious?”

      We have a shredding service come annually. That’s always fun too.

  6. Kimberly
    Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    Oh, my …you NAILED it. That’s why I can’t get anything done. There’s stuff in the way on my desk. There’s stuff in the way in my closet. There’s stuff in the way in my HEAD.

    One thing at at time. Handle it. Focus.

    I. Can. Do. This.

    • Tracy @LogyExpress
      Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

      Kim, yes one thing at a time is my new mantra. And the physical clutter was nothing compared to my mental clutter. A new rule that is helping me keep my office clean is to only get things out that I need to work on right now. If it’s not what I’m working on RIGHT NOW, it shouldn’t be out on my desk or open on my computer. I had turned my whole office into a messy to do list.

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