ORIGIN: Starting the Conversation

Focus On What Matters

01.20.14 by Brad Thurman
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It’s kind of a tradition. Not necessarily in a good sense, but a tradition nonetheless.

Every year, our company hosts a big open house for our clients and friends, and, every year, I get a box and clean off my desk. After the party, I pull out what I need, but rarely do I empty the box. So the box sits waiting, holding the stuff I felt I couldn’t toss out but that I didn’t need immediately. Which is how I came to have eight (count ‘em…eight!) boxes stashed under my desk.

Just before the end of the year, I decided to go through all the boxes, keep what I wanted, and get rid of the rest. There were books I bought and never read, tons of unnecessary paper, old Post-It notes with cryptic phrases written on them, a to-do list from April 2007 (unfinished, of course), and just plain stuff dating back to 2003. Yes, 2003. And, to be completely truthful, we moved into our current office in 2006, so a couple of the boxes were moved here from the old place!

Now, I have a pretty good memory, and sometimes to a fault, everything I touch tends to have a memory attached to it. If I throw something away immediately, I don’t think of it again. But if it gets left on a shelf or in a box or on my desk, it becomes like an old friend. It has a sense of place. I’m not a hoarder by any means (honest!), but the OCD in me makes it hard to get rid of some things.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I tossed out probably 95% of the crud in those boxes…and it felt good. Cathartic, in a way. It was fun to look through some of those old memories and wonder why I felt the need to keep certain things. It was good to decide what I needed to keep. And it was good to let the rest go.

Too often, the things that matter—family, friends, loved ones—get caught up in the flotsam and jetsam of everyday life, tossed in a box with everything else, waiting to be sorted out some day. But a new year is upon us and, with it, a new resolve. Let’s cut through the unfinished to-do lists and old Post-It notes and focus on what matters. And what matters? That’s up to you to decide for yourself. But, trust me, it is possible to clear out the clutter, just like those eight boxes I used to have under my desk.

Brad Thurman is the CMO and a principal at Wallace Engineering, a structural and civil engineering consulting firm. He can be contacted at info@wallacesc.com. Follow us on Twitter (@WallaceEng) for blog updates.

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Brad Thurman, PE, FSMPS, CPSM


As Chief Marketing Officer, Brad directs marketing and business development for Wallace Engineering. He received his Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies and Master of…

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