AG 097: “Go Clean Your Room!”

Episode Details

In this episode, Jamie discusses the profound impact of staying organized on overall productivity and mental well-being. Drawing from personal experiences, Jamie emphasizes five major benefits of organization: increased flexibility, reduced procrastination, a heightened sense of accomplishment, improved mental state, and enhanced productivity. By maintaining order in both physical and digital spaces, such as cleaning email inboxes or organizing photos, individuals can experience significant positive shifts in their day-to-day lives. Jamie encourages listeners to start small by tackling one organizational task at a time, emphasizing the momentum and satisfaction derived from accomplishing each task. The episode concludes with a teaser for the next topic and a reminder about the importance of seeking professional help when needed.

  1. Flexibility & Freedom
  2. Decreased Procrastination
  3. A Sense of Accomplishment
  4. Improved Mental State/Clarity
  5. Increased Productivity

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Full Episode Transcript

This is Episode 97 of the “After Gambling Podcast”. In this episode, we are going to talk about cleaning up after ourselves and staying tidy.


Hey there, and welcome to the “After Gambling Podcast”. You know me; my name is Jamie, and I’m excited to do this episode. It’s been a little while, I apologize. I had a nice nudging from a good friend of mine who said, “Hey, people listen to you. You’re not holding up your bargain. You’re not releasing episodes, and they count on you.” He likes listening to it, and it was a good reminder and something that, hey, I fail. But I’m back here to say I’m sorry and to try and get back at it.

The topic of today is actually something that’s helping me to get back at it. We’re going to talk about cleaning, staying tidy, whether it’s our spaces or our heads. I’ve come to realize and really see the value over the last 12 years of getting my thoughts in line, my thoughts in order. There have been a couple of things that have influenced me in doing this. One is my spouse. She’s very tidy, she keeps everything very nice and neat and orderly, and she’s inspired me and helped me to see the value in straightening things up. I was definitely the procrastinator who would just leave things around, and she would say, “Hey, why don’t you just do that and get it over with?” Seeing how it worked for her, she definitely was, like I said, one of my inspirations for this.

The other one is minimalism. I think I’ve talked about minimalism on the podcast. It’s something that the discipline pursuit of less, not more, which is really hard to do in today’s day and age when you have all these influences encouraging us to take on more, to do more every day. So, minimalism is just weeding out the things that don’t matter, so you can focus on the things that matter.

Today, I’m going to go over five key things, key benefits, that I see from keeping my room, my space, all those things, a lot cleaner. I will say I’m really excited; my inbox is finally to where there are no unread messages in any of my inboxes. I have several inboxes, which creates a bigger problem for myself, but my email is finally to a point where I don’t have anything that’s unread. Now, there are still things in there that I’m working through, that I have to process, and need to move through, actions that need to happen on some of those emails. But there’s nothing, all the marketing emails and all the spam and junk, I’ve cleaned all that out. I’ve made some steps to eliminate those in the future from coming back in my inbox. It’s amazing how that exercise has spurred me on to have a couple of good weeks in a row. I started working on that last week, or maybe the week before, and I’ve really noticed a difference.

Today, I’m going to highlight what those five things are that I notice when I keep my spaces clean. I’ll say upfront; we have so many places that can get cluttered and so many things that we kind of feel a responsibility to keep up with that it can often become overwhelming. I think that’s one of those things, as the list of things really starts to pile up, then we just dread it, at least I do. I dread doing any of it, and I just put it off for another day because that’s easy, right? We have email, we have dishes to clean, we have laundry to do, we have tasks to do with our work, we have social media responses. Do I need to respond to a message on there? I mean, just think of messaging apps. How many ways can you communicate with your friends and family? You can do it through social media, in person, phone, text, email, and all these different channels, and they all just start to pile up and add up if we let them run out of control.

But in keeping everything tidy, or going through and straightening things up, I’ll highlight the five things that I’ve really noticed when I do a good job of that. The first thing is just flexibility. I’ve always wanted, and I always wanted from gambling, the ability to be flexible in my schedule, to have that flexible freedom. But when things are unorderly, and when I know that my list of things that I need to do is just a long list, anything that comes in just throws me out for a loop. I get really upset and worked up, thinking, “When am I going to have time to do this? I don’t have time for the things that I know I need to do.” A lot of times, it’s because those, especially those physical things, whether it’s an email inbox that I know is just overflowing, or the dishes piling up in the sink, all of those things kind of play into this. Whenever new stuff comes to me, I just don’t feel like I can respond. I kind of want to push that away and add it to the pile of things to do.

But whenever I’m in a state and really focus on keeping things tidy, my personal spaces, my email inboxes, my work schedule, have all my orders, all my ducks in a row, have all of the things that I need done processed, then all of a sudden, when new things come in, I have this flexibility in my schedule because I’m not so hung up on all these to-do lists that are kind of hanging out there. That’s the first thing I really noticed. It ultimately gives me what I want, which is freedom and flexibility.

In a similar way, the second thing that I’ve really noticed whenever I keep my stuff organized and together is that I don’t procrastinate as much. I don’t put things off. I don’t look to continue to add to that pile because I realize how much effort went into getting it back to where it was. But then, also, I just kind of feel that ease, and I see all these other benefits. So, as new things come in, I get in the habit of just doing it now. So many times, that’s the thing. I run across these things, and it’s like a fork in the road, where it’s like I could go and just do this right now, put this dish away into the dishwasher, or I could just leave it there, and I can handle it later. My default mode is so many times to do it later.

As my good friend Todd always says, he has to do completely the opposite of what old Todd did. For me, I have to do completely the opposite of what old Jamie did. So, if my go-to default was like, “Well, I’ll handle that email later,” it’s like, no, you got to do it now. Look at it, figure out what the next action is, address it, and take care of it. Don’t let it pile up. So, when I’m in these clean modes, and when I’m really focused on the value, and I really see all the benefits that come from staying clean, I don’t procrastinate as much. Is it perfect? No, but it’s

95% better. I just look at my email inbox from this last week, and the status of all my projects. They’re all so much further along than they could be or would be if I didn’t have all this organization in place.

So, that’s just one of those benefits. I’m not procrastinating. If procrastination is something you struggle with, I’m telling you, keeping things clean, neat, and orderly can definitely help you. And then the second half of that, which is whenever things come in, process it and say, “Yeah, I could do it later, but I can also just do it now.” I heard a productivity person once say, “If it takes less than two minutes, just do it. Get it done.” It’s not worth making writing it down on the list. It’s not worth having to come back to it. So, I kind of use that in my head. If it’s a quick task, it’s going to take less than two minutes, just do it and get it done. So many things that I would normally put off fall into that category of under two minutes.

Definitely keeping things orderly, having a clean inbox, it just has this domino effect into all areas of my life, where I’m not procrastinating. The third thing I really notice is I have a sense of accomplishment. I do creative work, and so many of my projects are long-term projects. So much of my work is thought work, not physical work where you have an item come in and just show up, and you’re moving it from point A to point B. I can’t always see that progress. So, this is one of the ways, in looking around and seeing a clean space, looking at my email, and seeing that everything is in order, and then knowing that my order pipeline for work is all in place. There’s a sense of accomplishment that really just fills me up and really feels good. We all want to do good work, and when I’m orderly, it just makes doing the work a lot easier. It ultimately gets to the point where now I’m processing things faster. I’m getting through them quicker; they aren’t as big of a hang-up. So, I feel that accomplishment comes sooner, which builds up momentum. I’ve talked about momentum a lot. I’m a huge believer in momentum.

So, when I keep things clean, the order comes in, I know I need to do this, it takes less than two minutes, I move it to the next step, a sense of accomplishment right there. Now, what’s required? Do I need to do anything else? No, I’m waiting for it to come in. So, I know at that point, I’ve done everything I can do, and I can kind of rest and be at ease. Which is a perfect segue into our next one.

Number four, my mental state is so much better when I’m organized. It’s amazing how much looking around at a room and knowing that everything’s put away, and same, I keep going back to email. That’s a huge one for me. Or you may have this, whatever your task list is, and I’ll give you some ideas on things to think of at the end to go through and find out where you can start. But whenever I can just know that those things are taken care of, or that there’s a system in place to take care of them, my mind is just at ease. There’s a peace that I don’t feel when those things aren’t done. So, if you’re feeling stressed out, feeling overwhelmed, feeling like you’re always putting things off, the list never shrinks, it’s just a constant uphill battle against all these things coming at you from work, from family, from your own personal desires, all these aspects. Then give it a try. Find something today that you can start cleaning and start working towards something, whether it’s an email inbox. For me, that was a great one to start. So, if your email inbox looks like mine and it had 6,000 messages, which was a big reduction from the 15,000 it had before, I’m embarrassed to say. But it was a huge reduction. Do something. Find something like that that you can dig your teeth into and get started on this process because the mental clarity and mental ease that comes when you finish that, that sense of accomplishment from doing it now, from not procrastinating, it’s just so good.

Going back to the first one, the flexibility, you only feel this when you know things are done. You know that things are in their place. Then I think our brains can just relax, take a deep breath, and say, “Okay, we have this. We’re good to go. We’re in the right position, and we can handle what comes at us.” We don’t get rocked by just the most minor of requests. So, we have flexibility, we have cutting down on procrastination, we have a sense of accomplishment, we have the feeling of at ease. You see these things all go together.

Then my fifth one, which I’ve just completely noticed, I kind of touched on this earlier, is I’m so much more productive. I’m getting so much more done in my work. I’m getting so much done in my family life. The house is in order. I’m able to sit down, and I was working with the kids on a project last night. I wasn’t thinking about all these other things, these other tasks that I had to get done. Our minds can be at ease, as I talked about in ease, and we can be more productive. We can do the things that we care about, the things that are the most important things. So many times it’s these little things, like email, that get in the way and hang us up, these small little tasks that take less than two minutes. But because we tend to procrastinate and just say, “We’ll deal with those later,” we have bigger fish to fry, that’s always our thinking. But I’m here to say, I’ve been down that road, you know, I know that thinking. I’m sure you do as well. But coming back and finding these little things, this is one of the things I found to be really a cornerstone, keystone thing. When I really get in these modes where I’m really productive for long stretches, it all starts with getting things organized, getting things in order, which makes sense. I tend to think I’m probably pretty good at juggling chaos, but how much better will I be, or am I, when I don’t have to juggle the chaos? It’s pretty obvious, and I’ve seen that in stretches. So now, I’m trying to get back into one of those modes, really be very mentally healthy, have mental clarity, which is something we all want.

So, if it just takes cleaning out an inbox or taking care of it so there’s never a dirty dish just hanging out in the sink

, always making sure that’s in the dishwasher, or when the dishwasher gets done, the dishes are put away, when laundry gets done, it gets put away. We’re straightening up around our house, physical spaces as well as the tech spaces, things like email, things like your social media account. How about pictures? Photos? How many pictures do we have on different phones or on different computers? If you’re like me, they’re everywhere, and we know we would hate to lose them. So that can be a project to go through and focus on your pictures and get those organized. Whatever it is, find something that you can do, find something that’s interesting to you that you want to start organizing. Come up with a plan to address it, and even with the plan, just start addressing it. Dive in and make your plan as you go, but make sure that you’re moving forward, leaning forward, and digging into some progress, just not delaying it and adding it to another list of to-do things for down the road.

If you’re like me, you probably see so much crossover between this idea of focusing on cleaning our spaces along with what we were doing when we were gambling. My thought was always, “Well, I’ll be able to handle that later.” It’s all those little details, like filing paperwork or paying bills. “I can handle those later. I’ll have plenty of money when I can do those.” And ultimately, that just becomes a facade. It becomes the mirage in the middle of the desert that we never get there. And ultimately, it just takes doing these small little steps. For us, I think cleaning, staying tidy, staying organized is something that’s probably not natural in our DNA. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that for most of the people listening to this, that is not our natural state. We’re a little bit more eccentric, kind of fly by the seat of our pants, we’ll figure it out on the way. And then what we realize is that plan can work, but it can only take us so far. And then when it fails, it fails dramatically. It goes downhill quick. So this is a whole different way of living and thinking, and it’s just a way that, like I said, has so much more peace of mind and ease and has so much productivity. It’s really a win-win on all fronts.

A little bit of effort along the way breaks up those small tasks into these manageable pieces that really, like I said, give us momentum, give us that encouragement that we need to keep going forward as we see it working throughout our lives. So, I encourage you, when you’re done with this, figure out whatever it is. What’s your one thing that you want to focus on, and get that cleaned up? Just put your head down, whenever you have time. It doesn’t have to be all in one sitting. You can do it five minutes at a time, 15 minutes at a time, 25 minutes at a time, an hour at a time. Whatever you can do, but really focus in on getting something cleaned up. And then you’ll feel that sense of accomplishment along the way, as well as when it’s completed. And then move on to the next one. Move on to the next one. And as we go, obviously, these things, we want to then keep them in order. And that’s something that, there’s a perfect tease for next week’s episode. I’ve been doing a lot of work on trying to include some ways that I don’t have to always have these heroic efforts of cleaning an inbox, going from 6,000 emails down to the 1,500 that I still need to sort through. But that is a topic for another day. So, until then, remember, this is for informational purposes only. There is so much help out there, and there’s so much great professional help. There’s telehealth, there’s the 800 numbers you can call if in your state to find out if there’s free. It’s free, so many times the treatment is free and available. You just got to pick up the phone or find a website where you can connect with those people providing that in your state. Get that help. You’re worth it. You deserve it. You struggled on your own long enough. And as we always say, alone, we struggle. Together, we can do some damn good things. So reach out, get some people on your side that will help you through your specific situation.

Finally, music for the show is “Something Related” by Broke For Free and is licensed under the Creative Commons license. My name is Jamie, and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode.