Last week we identified 10 areas we can begin to tackle as we work to conquer our clutter (See Clean It Out, Part I). Share how you are doing – have you noticed any improvements? Are you struggling with letting go of certain items? Have you established a schedule that works well for you? Do you actually see your clutter now or do you continue to walk past it like it isn’t there?
Physical clutter leads to a cluttered mind. A cluttered mind is crowded, confused, unfocused, disordered and unclear. Yuck! That’s certainly not what we want.
We want to live in a clutter-free zone. Our goal is to live in our physical space with mental clarity. To live with peace and freedom from being bogged down by feelings of frustration because we can’t manage our clutter effectively. Or because we cannot find the things we need since we don’t know, or can’t recall, where we put them (or where they are hiding)! Or because we are rushing to clean up because family or friends are coming to visit. Or because we are in preparation for a holiday or upcoming celebration. Etcetera so forth.
Below are what I consider the three main areas of mental clutter.
1. Procrastination. We all tend to put things off because we’re always overextended and busy. We may say we will take care of something, return a phone call, etc. and a few days, a week or two weeks later the task still has not been accomplished.
Solution: Set a deadline. Just like you do at work. Deadlines work toward achieving our goals. Consider asking a friend or family member to serve as an accountability partner to help keep you on track.
2. Excuses. “I don’t have the time.” “I can’t do that.” “I don’t want to do that.”
Solution: Reframe your rationale. We make time for the things we enjoy or want to do. Is time really a factor or are you simply making an excuse because it isn’t necessary or important in your life? If its important, consider cutting back on activities, social media or other items on your schedule so you can do what needs to be done. Is your excuse fear based? If so, why do you think that is? Try something new that takes you out of your comfort zone…you might find you like it.
3. Worry. Many circumstances are beyond our control and there is nothing we can do to change them.
Solution: Identify the cause of your worry. Determine if it is within your control. If it’s not, pray about it and let it go.
Below are some key questions we can ask ourselves to help conquer mental clutter:
- What is holding me back?
- What is keeping me from achieving the vision I have for my life?
- What am I waiting for (afraid of)?
- Why am I having trouble releasing or eliminating this item?
In addition to the mental price of clutter, there are a number of excuses we tell ourselves to avoid releasing and clearing our clutter. I’m sure you recognize a few of these:
- “I paid a lot of money for that.” – Regardless of what you spent for it, if you’re not using it then its clutter. Sell it, donate it or give it away.
- “I hate to get rid of it because I may need it. I better hold onto it.” – If you haven’t used it since you bought it, you probably won’t. If you need it, which is highly doubtful (since you aren’t using it), then borrow it or consider repurchasing if you ever do need it again. Until then, it is taking up valuable space in your home. Get rid of it.
- “I’m saving this to give to my kids, grandkids, etc.” – In today’s society, your kids or grandkids probably have much more stuff than you do! Unless they are old enough to appreciate it, they may not place any value on the things that are important to you and, in all honesty, they probably won’t want it or keep it anyway. If they express interest in it, fine, save it for them and give it to them when they are of an appropriate age.
- “This could be worth something. I better hold onto it.” – Potentially it could. If it is taking up space and you aren’t using it consider selling it on your own or through a consignment shop. Also consider having the item appraised to see if it is as valuable as you believe it is.
- “This was a gift (or family heirloom) and it’s too sentimental to part with.” – Gifted or inherited items from treasured family members are always very special and sentimental. Nate Berkus had the best tips and ways to deal with and/or repurpose sentimental gifts and treasures on his former tv show (e.g., create a memory box, transform furniture pieces, etc.). His biggest tip was to separate the emotion from the item. That was an aha moment for me – because the memory lives in your heart, not in the item(s). Make a decision if you want to keep or repurpose sentimental item(s).
This graphic is a great summary of the impact of clutter.
How did you do? Did you respond yes or no to the questions presented in the graphic above? Did answering these questions give you any clarity?
Continue the work to release the physical clutter. When our physical space is cluttered it makes us feel less productive and less efficient in our homes and in our work place. As we work on clearing the physical clutter, and take the time to decompress to do the things we enjoy, we clear our minds and restore our joy. Peace returns. Confidence returns. Joy flows freely.
When we release the old (items, stuff, thoughts, patterns, behaviors, people) it makes way for the new (items, stuff, thoughts, patterns, behaviors, people, vision, lessons, opportunities, experiences).
Continue to move toward making your home, and your life, a clutter-free zone. Clean It Out.
In what ways has mental clutter shown up in your life? What excuse(s) do you use to justify keeping your clutter?