The past couple of weeks I’ve been tackling a variety of projects around the house – from installing new faucets on the sinks in the master bathroom to doing minor plumbing work on my pond to get the waterfall working again.   As I’ve been doing these projects I’ve been taking the time to clean things up a bit – cleaning out the clutter under my bathroom sink (and on the bathroom counter),   weeding around the pond and cleaning up the yard (still a work in progress), etc.

Through these efforts I’ve begun to notice a greater appreciation of clean and minimalist ideals.  Put simply, I like it when things are clean and not cluttered.  This goes for not just my bathroom sink and landscaping – but for everything.  I get frustrated at the cluttered, slow, clunky and sometimes confusing interfaces on most TV / Cable providers.  I get annoyed when I see marketing materials that try to cram in every buzzword possible instead of being clean, clear and concise.  I abhor applications that eschew clean and easy interfaces for the sake of cramming in unnecessary (and ultimately unused) features and options.

A couple of weeks ago I ran across a proposal for a remake of Adium, the popular IM client for Mac.  Titled “Adium Reborn“,  I instantly fell in love with the clean and minimal interface.  There would be nothing to get in the way of using the app – exactly as it should be.

The more I think about and consider this line of thinking, the more I realize that when I go through periods where finding motivation is difficult, I allow clutter to pile up around me.  The clutter makes it ever more difficult to be motivated and to find inspiration.   It frustrates me.  I avoid it like the plague, and in doing so allow it to get worse – perpetuating the cycle until something gives and I can’t take it anymore.

The solution for me – inasmuch as there is one – is to recognize this cycle and identify it when it’s happening.  I need to deal with the clutter early and with a vengeance to short circuit the cycle and – with any luck – find further motivation and inspiration to do more.

Professionally, as a product manager,  I should strive to push the teams I work with to produce products that are clean, simple and effective.  The product should never get in the way of doing the work.

If it does, we’ve failed.