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The Relenta CRM blog

Mission possible: 5 tips to stop work clutter

A symbol of your inner condition

A new study from the University of Minnesota claims that people with messy workspaces are more likely to be creative while people with tidy desks and offices tend to be healthier and more generous.

Creative, maybe. Productive, hardly.

Haven’t you had a major screw up because of a chaotic work system? Creativity doesn’t make up for letting things fall through the cracks. Luckily, getting rid of clutter isn’t a big deal as long as you commit to a few basic steps:

Make a list

Clutter is not just the stuff you can touch, like that ugly pile on your desk. It lurks everywhere – in your email inboxes, Excel spreadsheets, contact manager apps, CRM software and so on. Do a complete inventory and leave no stone unturned.


Having seven separate apps and logins to deal with all your email accounts, contacts, to-do lists, files, calendars, social media, and email newsletters makes no sense. As much as possible, try to streamline your life into one, two systems tops. At the very least, integrate and sync all the multiple apps that you use, although methinks life is too short for that. Oh, and if you’re a team, it goes without saying that all information should be shared in real time.

Do not fear

Start with a big clean up and throw out as much crap as possible. You will not miss it. When my laptop was stolen in Bali a few years ago, I thought it would be the end of the world. It wasn’t. (A real-time cloud backup is still a very good idea.)

Go paperless

Paper takes up a ton of space and can easily get out of control. Digitize everything, put it on one system, and use tags so that you can easily establish connections with customers, events and everything else. Evernote is great for personal use but it has its limitations if you have thousands of customer relationships to keep track of. If that’s the case, attach digitized stuff to the appropriate contact records in your CRM or contact management software.

Remain vigilant

David Allen of Getting Things Done fame suggests getting to zero – leaving work each day with nothing in your inbox and no new emails. It may work for some, but good luck with that if your shop is dealing with thousands of customer emails per day. I mean, you can file all of your inbox items into a bunch of other folders to get things out of sight and out of mind, but you still have to respond to all those messages, right? In any case, the point is that clutter is a moving target, especially if you are predisposed to it by nature. I recommend regularly scheduled team meetings dedicated solely to tackling clutter. Wash and repeat your daily, weekly and monthly anti-clutter routines.

There’s no time like the moment. Get to it – and as added bonus, become healthier and more generous.

  • Good points Dmitri,

    I especially like the point about making everything electronic. This is good to do at home too. I just read a good book, “Ask and it is Given”, that has a good chapter about removing clutter. They suggest getting some boxes and numbering them. Then when you look at an item in the room, ask yourself: “Is this item important to my immediate experience?”. If no, you put it in a box. As you put it in a box, you say what the item is into a recorder and what box number you put it into. Then later you can transfer the info on the recorder to alphabetical index cards. I would put it in an excel sheet.

    • Jarrod Chesney

      And every month you can get rid of the box you haven’t opened in the longest.

  • Interesting! Thanks Suzanna!

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