Clutter = the barriers between you and the life you were meant to lead.
I recently saw a Ted Talk about reducing clutter. Now I like to think of myself as a fairly well organised person, but to be honest, 2017 got kind of messy. I felt disorganised. I had too many things going on. Yoga and meditation kept me sane, but I started to feel like I was just not productive enough.
I realized that I was feeling overwhelmed with all the things I wanted to do and needed to do. And I was starting to dread my ‘to do’ list – it was growing tentacles and becoming a monster to sustain. I noticed procrastination creeping through the mental corridors.
It was a relief to hear and read that many successful people get cluttered and overwhelmed. Some just get very skilled at hiding it. There’s the old adage that ‘more is better’. This leads to clutter becoming the norm. ‘More is better’ seems fixed in our psyches. In psychological studies of people who are chronically overwhelmed, the statistics reveal quite an insight.
Can you recognise the symptoms of being overwhelmed? Or have the warning signs become so normal and part of every day life that you don’t see them? Or perhaps you accept being overwhelmed as just something to put up with to achieve your goals in life?
Tricking your clutter
As I sit to write the first draft of this blog, I’ve got a cold and I initially wanted to postpone my writing today. I thought I would write poorly and without inspiration. But I read an interesting blog about how to get around feeling overwhelmed about blogging and I realized that my muse wasn’t going to pack her bags and abandon me just because I was sneezing and coughing and looking terrible. She was going to hang around for 25 mins and feed me spoonfuls of inspiration, because that’s what she does. And it’s liberating to know that I don’t have to sit and write a blog in one hit – don’t have to write for 2 hours and then go back and edit it. I could take all week to write my blog – just 20-30 mins per day. I don’t have the beat myself up. That’s liberating.
I’m gradually realising that freedom is not being free of commitments and ‘to do’ lists. Freedom is being productive, inspired and creative (and delegating those things that are blocking your productivity). As human beings, we can’t stop action – without action we shrivel up. But we can transform action into something inspiring.
Now, getting back to that Ted Talk, the essence of the topic was this:
Clutter is postponed decisions
When I heard this, a light switched on in my tentacled brain.
Clutter is not just stuff, it can be digital, mental, emotional, spiritual.
Digital clutter = squillions of unprocessed emails or computer files that haven’t been put in the right folders.
Mental clutter = fear, voices, news, anything that bombards the psyche
Emotional clutter = negative patterns, ‘I can’t…’ etc
Spiritual clutter = lack of forgiveness, lack of compassion, lack of inner peace.
Then of course there’s the house clutter, the office clutter, the garage clutter, and so on.
Clutter leads to paralysis and depression, especially emotional and spiritual clutter.
What’s the answer? Make a decision!
That sounds easy, but it’s very difficult sometimes, as we all know too well.
For example, I looked at the kitchen clutter recently and rather than feeling overwhelmed I decided to just organise one shelf – just one tiny little shelf. It was my spice shelf. It had been out of control for months and I was avoiding cooking with spices because I couldn’t face the clutter. It took me about 20 minutes to fix the muddle and I felt as if I’d summited Mt Everest, such was my elation and feeling of victory. (I then cooked a delicious Indian meal!) I was proud of myself. Does that sound ridiculous? I challenge you to try one cluttered shelf and see for yourself.
Some clutter decisions are easy. Some are huge. Some are tiny but prickly.
But no matter what size the clutter is, remember this: Everything needs to be acted upon for your own ultimate freedom. You have the power to affect change by making a decision.
Stagnation around dealing with your clutter will create a type of paralysis, and can easily lead to depression. If you are feeling overwhelmed at any time, just stop and look at what might be causing it. You can be pretty sure that it will be clutter of some sort, and an inability to make a decision about what to do with it.
Remember the golden rule: Momentum reaps rewards (freedom and peace of mind).
The quality of your life is determined by the decisions that you make, about your clutter, your stuff, whatever level it’s on.
Clutter will keep coming back, but you can develop the habit of recognising it, making decisions and moving forward to reach peace and freedom.
If you struggle with clutter, then start with a small clutter removal task, e.g. clean out your emails or a small cupboard. Feel the pleasure of your victory. Reward yourself with something nice.
I’d love to hear your thoughts around clutter. Please share below!