This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

I don’t pretend to know everything it takes to be a great leader. I do know that I have tremendous respect for business people who are calm, decisive, energized, and really present. I also know that I’m at my professional worst when I’m frenzied, unfocused, tired, distracted. And I’ve noticed that I often get bogged down by a most curious phenomenon: clutter.

Clutter appears in my life in various forms—in my file cabinets, my hall closet, my mind, my heart. The messier things are, the more my leadership suffers. Clutter makes my “I am woman, hear me roar” sound more like a meow.

On the other hand, when I “spring clean” by putting things in order and cleaning up relationships, it creates a clearing that allows me to relax and breathe deeply. It gives me the mental clarity I need to pay attention to my environment, rather than live at the mercy of it. It provides the emotional capacity to really tune into my clients, colleagues, family and friends.

[Tweet “There’s a business case for clearing clutter (seriously). #getreal #trustedadvisor”]

The question is this: in the midst of this crazy, fast-paced life, where could there possibly be time to clear out all my mess?

The answer I’ve come to: There isn’t time. I have to make the time.

Now, please excuse me while I step away from my computer to go sort the junk drawer in my office.

A version of this Weekly Tip was originally posted on

Make It Real

Even the smallest clutter-clearing gesture makes a big difference. This week, spend 15 minutes purging files. Or delete the “to dos” that you’ve been pretending you’re going to do and know you will never get around to, once-and-for-all. Or come to terms with letting go of a relationship, either professional or personal, that hasn’t been working for a while anyway.

Learn More


Read about the twelve steps of business relationships, from our friends at Trusted Advisor Associates, or get tips on dealing with untrustworthy people in Chapter 25 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.

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Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).