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Winning the Battle with Clutter

Clearing the decks to help others while helping yourself…


Clutter — stashed, stacked, strewn. I frequently come back to this topic because clutter is like the Lochness Monster — it may disappear for a time in our lives, but it seems to creep up on us until it rears its ugly head again! Let’s do battle!

Right now in my trunk are bags and boxes of clothes, lamps, purses, shoes, old stereo equipment and other perfectly good things that we just aren’t using anymore. All this perfectly good stuff is going to a new home (courtesy of a great charity organization) where it will be put to good use, instead of sitting in the back of our closet, the attic or the basement.

Does this feel great? You bet!

Why does it feel so good to get rid of the clutter in your life? When your life (or your closet) is so crammed with “stuff” that it’s overflowing, there is no margin — no space for something new and wonderful to come into your life. If you are feeling stuck in some area of your life, start clearing the decks!

If you go into an office or come home to a cluttered, crowded, disorganized space you don’t have the chance to fully recharge your batteries. It is sapping your energy! Most of us have become masters of disguise, too, keeping our clutter well-hidden behind closed doors, in bottom drawers, in the basement. But YOU KNOW it’s there and it has the same effect as if it were cluttering up the pathway from one room to the next, creating an obstacle course.

OK, so you are convinced. Now what?

Set aside one segment of time — an evening, a Saturday morning, an hour here and there. Devote it to cleaning just one area of your home. It could be one drawer, your desk, your pantry, your medicine cabinet, one section of your closet. If you are a professional pack rat, here are some tips for you:

1. DO ask yourself: “When was the last time I used this item?” If you can’t remember, then toss it (or donate it). If you haven’t used it in 6 months — toss it.

2. DON’T ask yourself: “Is this useful?” or “Might I use this someday?” Obviously, the answer would be “yes” and you’ll keep collecting clutter on top of clutter, and never get rid of anything.

3. Invite a friend over to help. Not another pack rat or collector, but someone who is not attached to your stuff and who will find it easier to be objective about tossing stuff out.

4. Start appreciating the value and beauty of empty space! You have all seen those shows on TV where experts come in to help someone clean out their house. You know how thrilled those people are when they see their newly reorganized space — complete with clean, white space on the walls, in the cabinets, and on the closet racks.

Every client I have worked with finds this victory in the battle with clutter to be one of their most helpful and rewarding accomplishments. Their lives improve, they get unstuck, they become more productive and disciplined in other areas of their lives. They are happier, freer, and more energetic people.

“At some level of awareness, you become the caretaker for every scrap of stuff you keep. Don’t kid yourself: you are devoting a proportional amount of psychological energy to every object in your domain whether or not you are aware of it from moment to moment.” — Jeff Campbell

Jeff is right! The physical “stuff” creates emotional, mental and psychological “stuff” that weighs you down and takes up valuable mental and emotional real estate that would be better devoted to more important things.

Once you’ve done it, keep on doing it. Make this a lifestyle habit. There are many great books and website out there on clearing cutter and getting organized. If you just can’t do it on your own, get a buddy who wants to take on this task in their own life. Commit to each other.

Get started today and have your first victory celebration as you begin to win the battle with clutter!

Originally published at medium.com

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