Sunday, August 17, 2008

There's Clutter, then there's Clutter

When I posted recently about clearing out clutter, I had a couple of queries deserving response.

One of my work associates read the post, slipped quietly into my office and asked, in a hushed tone, “Joe, who did you tick off now?” I got a good laugh; the post was not directed at anyone. I simply was fed up with my own propensity for junk to pile up on my desk. As most of my posts, I wrote this one to myself.

Then, Joanna Rothman posted a comment asking about those who stay organized with everything out. Is this clutter? She poses a great point.

Many jobs require horizontal surfaces to be covered with relevant material. In particular, architects, project managers and building planners often need to work with large sheets of paper. They do no good rolled up in a drawer.

As in many things Lean, identical issues can be value-added in one setting and pure waste in another. Recall our usual revulsion at conveyor lines; yet in the chocolate factory it can add value by letting the gooey mix solidify before going to the packaging line.

To Joanna, I’d suggest the difference is in the intent. To answer the question “Is this piece of paper out because I need it or because I’m procrastinating trashing it or filing it?” If the former, leave it out; if the latter, well, it’s just plain clutter.

And each of us knows the difference.

So, keep getting rid of clutter. It just gets in the way.

1 comment:

lafever said...

I have realized while purging and de-cluttering that I don't have a process detemining what I retain vs. what I throw away. So much of what I keep is not about reason but emotion. For example, I lie to myself to keep something because I'll use it in a future project. 10 years later, I throw it away because I can't remember why I kept it. I'm really thing through a process that will help de-clutter.