Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stuff

Tomorrow is moving day for my organization. This means that we have all spent at least part of this week packing up the contents of our desks and offices in order to be ready for the big move. The office is full of plastic crates stacked four or five high with all our stuff in them. What is also taking up room are bins - garbage bins, recycling bins, shredding bins - the quantity of stuff that has been discarded in the last week alone (not to mention the dozens of bins that were filled in February and last August during pre-move clean-out days) is somewhat astonishing. If I had to guess I'd say a third of all the stuff in everyone's office is being disposed of rather than moved.

Besides thinking about the obvious environmental implications of all this waste, it also makes me wonder about the psychological implications of it all. If we have so much unnecessary, unwanted stuff in our personal spaces, how does that affect our ability to get our jobs done? My job involves spending a lot of time getting people to clean up their digital clutter, by putting things in databases or making a single version of a document available on our intranet, in the hope that it will make their jobs easier. But too often I think we forget that our physical environment can have just as much impact on our productivity as our virtual one, and frequently the only time we bother to clean things out is when we're leaving a job and it's too late to do us any good.

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