Look Smart, Think Smart!

Look Smart, Think Smart!

I’ve never been one for clutter. Don’t get me wrong, I like my home comforts and am more than happy to have a few cushions on my sofa and a selection of photographs on my sideboard. But when it comes to keeping things for sentimental reasons or ‘just in case’, I’m more likely to throw them out or donate them to the local charity shop than I am to hoard them unnecessarily. Consequently, my house is generally clutter free, each room home to just one or two framed photographs or a souvenir from my travels.

There is one room, however, that seems to have escaped my strict ‘no clutter’ mantra. My office, the room where I spend most of my time, appears to have turned into a chaotic cave, crowded with boxes, books, paperwork and a host of other displaced paraphernalia. As a result of my desire to keep the rest of the house tidy and clutter free, my office seems to have become home to an assortment of things that have no obvious abode. This sorry state of over-crowding escalated to the point of no return and was far from conducive to a clean, bright, inspirational working space.

Determined to return my office to its former minimalistic glory, I decided to tackle the mountain of ‘stuff’ that had gathered in every corner. The result was astounding. First to go was a box full of electrical items that had been there since I moved house. Inside, I found old lap top leads, a computer mouse, TV remotes, obsolete chargers and an old Sky TV box. If I hadn’t used them in three years I was unlikely to use them now! A box full of coat hangers was next to go; there were more than enough coat hangers in each wardrobe without the need for dozens more! Books and magazines were next. Those I had read were donated to the local charity book shop and those I hadn’t were lined up neatly in my book case. Old photo frames, art prints and shoe boxes were next to go. Why had I even kept this stuff?

I was shocked how much stuff I had managed to accumulate despite my determination to keep my home clutter free. Once removed, my office began to look like the clean and tidy working environment intended. Rather than feeling as though the walls were closing in, it was now a light, roomy space where I could work without first needing to navigate my way around an obstacle course.

I’m not sure where and when I first heard the expression ‘a tidy desk is a tidy mind’ but I must say, I can relate to this particular thought process. Whether it was a teacher in school or a manager at work who first uttered these words to me, it certainly seems to be true. A clean and tidy working environment is essential when it comes to writing. Creativity needs space to develop so a disorderly desk will only hamper productivity. The same applies to state of mind and physical comfort, the two of which, in my opinion, are linked.

I worked in an office environment for over thirty years where ‘business attire’ was the strict dress code. Not only did this project a professional image from a visiting client’s points of view, it also ensured each member of staff looked and felt smart; which reminds me of another well known expression, ‘look smart, think smart.’

Periodically, my employer would organise a dress-down day in aid of charity. The idea was to wear casual clothes in exchange for a charitable donation. The choice of clothing depended on the charity; pink for breast cancer, yellow for armed forces and so on. But as much as I supported the gesture of goodwill, I was never comfortable working in jeans and a t-shirt. By leaving my professional attire at home, I somehow left my business brain behind too. My casual clothing felt alien in my professional work space and my attitude and commitment seemed to slip along with my appearance. My usual efficient self was nowhere to be seen, replaced by a sloppier, less productive version. After a number of fruitless dress-down days, I decided to abandon the jeans and t-shirt and stick to my business suit, whilst still contributing to the charity – a win-win as far as I was concerned.

Whilst others may argue that where you sit and what you wear should make no difference to your work rate, I agree wholeheartedly with the two aforementioned expressions. As a result, my office space is now clean and tidy and I arrive at my desk appropriately dressed for the busy day ahead. The fact that I work from home is irrelevant. In fact, if anything, it’s even more important to remain professional when there are so many distractions. At which point a third well used expression springs to mind – dress for success!

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