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Organizing messy desks - your questions answered, part 4

Blog post   •   Sep 01, 2014 12:20 +08

In case you haven't read the previous posts in this series, here are the links to Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

Question:  Should we always listen to our feelings when we do "The Purge". 

One particular step in the decluttering process is so important that we give it a nickname, called "The Purge".  This one step is crucial in determining the success of a project.  If done well, it moves us forward; if not, the links to the past will continue to weight us down. 

Many people shudder at the nickname, but actually, it is nothing to be afraid of.  We are human beings, not automatons, so it is natural to feel fearful or pain when getting rid of something.  However, we also need to recognize that there is a common cognitive error called "loss aversion", where we associate higher weight to losing something that gaining an item of equivalent value.  Without any doubt, you can expect this cognitive error to threaten to overwhelm your feelings during the purge, but knowing that it exists actually helps us to overcome it.  For more information, refer to chapter 32 of Rolf Dobelli's seminal book, The Art of Thinking Clearly. 

The trick to completing the purge successfully?  Do not focus on the loss.  Instead, focus on why you are doing this decluttering project and ask yourself if any particular item helps you to achieve them.  Some of our goals may be:

If that item is an obstacle to the above, then donate or discard it.  Holding on to such item is like driving with a large rear view mirror and a small windscreen.  If there are items you're unsure about, create a "maybe" box.  Place the items inside and leave it for 3 months. 

During this period, if you need an item from the box, simply pick it out and find a place to store it after using it - don't put it back in the box.  After 3 months, donate or discard whatever that's left in the box.  No exceptions. 

If you have many items to purge, be sure to take a breather in between.  Our brains do get tired when it has to make many decisions and the quality of those decisions gets poorer as our brain tires. 
Now that we're done with Part 4, do you still have burning questions about organizing your cubicle/desk, and haven't found the answer yet?  Drop us a note at info(at)edits-inc(dot)com and we'll publish the answers in a post!

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