Several of my very favorite people in the world suffer from the same condition. It’s not an obvious condition, nor is it hurtful, or even morally questionable. It is a harmless condition that doesn’t bother my loved ones at all, but it does give me the shortest moment of stress when I see it. I call it email-junk-tivitis. You know you suffer from this condition if that little red dot on your phone’s mail icon contains a 4 or 5-digit number. The good news is that the sufferers of email-junk-tivitis don’t seem inhibited by the condition at all. They are perfectly happy, healthy, contributing members of society. Like I said, they are some of my favorite people! I often ask someone with email-junk-tivitis, “How on earth can you have thousands of unread emails? Doesn’t that stress you out?” They all respond with something similar, “It’s just junk…it’s stuff I don’t care about…I don’t need it…it’s an account I don’t ever use…it’s not important, just clutter…”
Even if you don’t have email-junk-tivitis, I would guess that all of us have “clutter” of some sort or another, the kind of mind-clutter that gets in the way of us moving forward or reaching a goal we’ve set for ourselves. It might be the clutter of a time-wasting habit, or worse a habit that is truly harmful. It might be a way of doing something that we subscribed to in the past but should now unsubscribe to as there is now a more efficient way of doing it. It might be a creative idea that we loved at one time, but now it doesn’t excite us anymore. Educators are particularly susceptible to this last one; we keep thinking up new and creative ways to engage our students, but instead of trading out one practice for another, we just stack the new idea on top of all the old ones until we find ourselves exhausted. The truth is that sometimes we need to declutter in order to make room for new possibilities. If I declutter, I might have more time for that stack of books sitting on my night stand—one of which is sure to inspire me with the next great idea. If I declutter, I might find I have more quality time to spend with family and friends. If I declutter, I might find that I can become an expert at one thing instead of mediocre at many.
So, giving up one bit of clutter is my challenge to you and to myself this week. It’s the beginning of the Christian season of Lent, a time many people are thinking about giving up something. Do you have clutter you want to give up? Or maybe 14,000 unread emails? Either way, replace it with something that makes your heart sing!