Clutter includes things like: the dishes in your kitchen sink, unworn clothes in the closet, worn and dirty clothes on your bedroom floor, the pile of notebooks/books out on your coffee table, and scuff-marks on the walls (call me Type-A, but that definitely adds to clutter). These are all examples of physical clutter, but clutter also includes: business cards of people you mean to reach out to laying on your dresser, the mail out in the foyer that needs to get sent out, promises to reach out to your kids’ teachers, and even anxiety about your business numbers and performance failures. Whenever you have things in your life that are not finished (unclosed loops), they are, at best, distractions; but at worst, they’re your dream stealers.
Clutter doesn’t have to be something you can physically touch. Clutter is simply the presence of thing(s) that distract your mind from moving forward with a goal effortlessly, or take away your ability to be absolutely and throughly present in the moment. When that happens, the goals that mean most to you get pushed back to another date; your ability to see clearly is diminished, and you don’t realize what you’re capable of, or what you want out of life.
Consider this: when you wake up, you wake up fully charged, like a battery. But what happens when you have unnecessary apps running in the background? Your battery sits leaking to support these unnecessary apps. Every app (clutter) depletes you of your energy. When you have to-do tasks that never get done, you can’t find your favorite work shirt, or you harbor resentment towards your coworker who stole your idea at work, you have open apps that are stealing you of your battery – and your capacity to pursue your dreams and a life-lived-well.
Things you can do to declutter:
- Figure out if the clutter serves you. Sometimes when we’re doing creative work, clutter actually helps us to feel inspired and find creativity in connecting dots to things we may not have done otherwise. If it helps to leave out all of your ideas out on your desk as you write away, by all means – do so. But remove them afterwards.
- Look around you and find things that need to be: removed, changed, or added. You may need to remove the stack of unread books in the corner of your bedroom. It might help to change your office furniture to face away from the window (that occasionally hosts entertaining visuals of disgruntled workers leaving for the day). It might be beneficial to add a bookshelf to the room if your desk and drawers are cluttered with information that needs to be accessed efficiently.
- Review your to-do list. Schedule time in your calendar to get them done. Remove items from your surroundings that “need to be done” and place them in a designated area for when your calendar says it’s time.
- Reflect and see if you hold resentment, anger, or sadness from an event that happened in the past. It’s time to tidy them up – if you can do something about them, schedule them in your calendar. If not, visualize yourself creating distance from what brings forth those feelings. With your eyes closed, picture yourself releasing the negative energy that stemmed from that event.
- What sorts of things keep you up at night? What gives you anxiety and agita about things that haven’t happened yet? Schedule time in to worry about them later. Outside of that scheduled time, you’re not allowed to worry about them.
*Bonus: While you’re at it, add exercise and nutrition into your calendar. If you’re not taking care of your physiological needs, you won’t have enough resources necessary to deal with your day-to-day life, in a way that you can be proud of and gets you results. This, I know from personal experience.
Photo courtesy of @srosinger3997