Where there is clutter, there can be no clarity. Clutter impedes our ability to think clearly, solve problems and arrive quickly at decisions.
We can easily get distracted and lose our focus if we have too much clutter accumulated in our mind. Not only do we need to sift and sort through various pieces of information lying around and get rid of the layers of dust in order to find the relevant ones, we also need to prevent the irrelevant from clouding our judgment.
It doesn’t matter how many facts and figures we have at our disposal and how extensive and wide-ranging our memory might be, it’s of no use if we don’t know how and what to apply to a particular obstacle or situation. We need to be swift in figuring out what to use and what to ignore, only then we’ll able to become an accomplished problem solver and decision maker.
In ‘A Study in Scarlet’, when Dr. Watson expresses surprise that Holmes is not aware of the Copernican theory and what the solar system consists of, he explains that he does his best to forget any information that is not relevant to his work or his existence:
“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”