Hoarding has gotten a lot of press over the last year, thanks in large measure to a reality show called Hoarders. What keeps me watching the show is my fascination with a different kind of hoarding — one that can afflict today’s knowledge workers with very little outward sign: mental hoarding.
Considering the volume of information the average office worker processes in a week – and the fact that this information flow shows no signs of slowing down – this is a very good time to become skilled at clearing out and decluttering the mind.
Unlike possessions hoarding, brain clutter could easily build in private and go undetected for years. I envision cerebral passageways narrowed by the accumulation of unused information – stuff we retain because we might need it someday. Many of us have this problem with our computer hard drives. Ever spent twenty minutes searching for a document buried deep within folders filled with files you haven’t accessed in years? What makes us keep everything? I would guess it’s the conviction that just as soon as we hit the delete key someone will have a dire need for that very file.