Carl and His Clutter – A Real Executive Coaching Story


Coaching Spotlight #2
By Ann Yaggie, Certified Coach & Executive Consultant

Carl had a large office and an equally formidable size desk. When I walked into his office on the morning of our first coaching session I was shocked at what I saw. Throughout the room were shelves and cabinets stuffed to the brim with all types of paper materials and books. His desk was buried beneath a white avalanche of paperwork. On the far end of the room, a small table stood enveloped in dusty piles.

Before entering his office that morning, I had begun to form a rough idea of the things that Carl and I might discuss and tackle together. After seeing where he worked, I realized that many of those topics would have to wait until we talked about just what his experience was like working in such an organizationally challenged office.

You might expect that helping my coaching clients with clutter reduction is some huge, Herculean struggle between my clients and me. Perhaps you picture me standing vigilantly over my client as they sweat under the pressure of my nagging voice and the harsh ring of my whistle. But this is actually not at all how it goes down. The reality is a lot less stressful and a lot more calm and welcomed.

Most of the people I’ve worked with to improve organization have been the first to admit that they have a messy or disorganized office, and they’re usually eager to change their habits with my help. When I broached the subject of organization with Carl, I was shocked by how easily he admitted, “Yeah, this is a distraction.” He understood the harm that disorganization did to his image and his timelines and was obviously ready to make a change.

While foraging through Carl’s piles, we discovered all sorts of important, overlooked items—even $500 in unclaimed expenses! I thought it was a perfect example of how being more organized not only improves your potential and your career, but it also saves you money.

Once we’d cleared the room of its unnecessary items, we couldn’t help but notice how different the space felt. It was so much more open, as if your mind could actually breathe better.

I’ve found that a lot of people, such as Carl, end up with a clutter problem for reasons that you wouldn’t typically associate with clutter, such as the need for perfection. Perhaps you’ve hesitated to start cleaning that room or office because you fear you couldn’t do it perfectly.

Others may avoid tackling the mess because they turn to their disorganization for distraction, or as an excuse for failure. Have you ever been guilty retreating behind your mess?

One easy way to defeat the pile of paper is to push yourself to be clearer about your goals. If you aren’t clear about what’s truly important, you may tend to keep it all stacked on top of your desk. You think, I might need this soon—better keep it out. If you fear that putting items away will cause you to forget about them, consider this: If the item is “out of sight, out of mind,” perhaps it should be out of mind. Is it really that important?

Many people have lived with clutter for 30+ years and are just waiting for the extra push to change. If you’re interested in learning how executive coaching can help you or others in your organization to create organization, develop potential, facilitate a transition, act as a sounding board, address derailing behavior, or take control of the pace and quality of life and work, don’t hesitate to contact me today.


Related posts:

  1. Stop Playing Clutter Catch-Up
  2. Why the Organized Bird Gets the Worm
  3. Operations Director Changes Her Life through Coaching
  4. Time Management Tips for Executive Assistants
  5. Can You Say “No”?

Leave a Reply