What does researching have to do with clutter? At my place not much, but for many of my clients, research is a way of life. Or maybe it’s a way of not getting around to making decisions, which is what causes clutter.
How you research, and make decisions based on the research is the key to eliminating most of the paper clutter I encounter. Can you find the information you have been accumulating when you are ready to act? If not, then having a simple strategy about how you find information when you need it can save you hours of time every month.
Here are some key questions you can answer ahead of time to make your information gathering clutter free.
Where do you look for the information? Do you use the numbers in your phone, the Rolodex on your desk, the yellow pages, Google? Ask a friend or other trusted source? Knowing where to look allows you to keep the information in that place until you need it.
Do you trust the source? Trusting an information source in the first place will also save you a lot of time and help you avoid duplicate information. How many cards from your computer guy are floating around the office because you didn’t think you put it in the right place yet so you grabbed another one just in case?
How many opinions do you need to make an informed decision? I like to stick with 3. It’s an arbitrary number I picked a few years back to keep my curiosity in check. Before that limiter, I could research for years before I took action. What a waste of time.
How much time and effort is worth it to save money? You do know that the ads in the paper about what’s on sale are more likely to get you to buy something you didn’t know you needed and to drive 5 miles out of your way to do it don’t you?
When do you need the information? Investigating a purchase too far before you actually need to leads to piles of irrelevant information by the time you do need it. If you start the research closer to the purchase by date, you will only be sifting through relevant and current options. You won’t be attached to the purple t-shirt that hasn’t been in the store for at least 6 months, and you will be happy with your decision to go with the iris colored one that is in the store now.
To eliminate even more research related clutter, I wanted to share these 2 bonus ideas.
- Once you decide against something, the research about it can get tossed.
- Don’t do research for other people, let them create their own clutter.
Now, stop printing out blog posts and clipping articles about how to get organized and go toss some research clutter! Then let me know how it goes in the comments.