Cluttered Space, Cluttered Mind

My life is so cluttered, I can’t think!

Do you ever have those days when you just can’t focus? You get to work, you sit at your cluttered desk, and a million to-dos fly in and out of your brain, never staying long enough to actually be able to even grasp what that task was. Before you know it, the phone rings, the coffee spills and you just feel like maybe, just maybe, you shouldn’t have even tried to get started today. Welcome to everyday life, right?

As a Professional Organizer, I often experience this. I get so busy with running my business, meeting new clients, going to networking events, attending mastermind groups, going to clients’ homes for organizing sessions, grocery shopping, self-care, connecting with my fiance and trying to have a little bit of a social life(all you busy moms out there have even more than this on your plates) that my home office sometimes looks like a tornado hit it. Life gets cluttered, resulting in an incredibly cluttered mind.

Cluttered space, cluttered mind. Buddha statue.

We are only human.

I have those days when I feel like the description in the first paragraph. These are the days when I feel like I would just like to accomplish ONE thing well today, but a million thoughts and ideas are pulling me in multiple directions.  Squirrel syndrome, anyone? These are the days when I am reminded that a cluttered space results in a cluttered mind.

In her book, “Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui”, Karen Kingston says:

“Having Clutter Can Confuse You. When you live surrounded by clutter, it is impossible to have clarity about what you are doing in your life.  When you clear it, you get fewer colds, you can think more clearly, and life decisions become easier. Being clear of clutter is one of the greatest aids I know to discovering and manifesting the life you want.”

Messy pile of paper.

Clutter weighing you down?

One of my clients sent me a message yesterday, after a paper purge we did in one section of her home office. This message absolutely warmed my heart. “I feel lighter already and my energy increases as I feel lighter.” We had literally dropped about 15lbs of paper into the recycling bin after our purge. This paper was creating an energy block for her, hampering her creativity and productivity. You know those stacks of paper that you never want to tackle, because you’re scared you might find an unpaid bill or run into an old love letter?

Clutter holds an incredible amount of energy, positive and negative. I won’t begin to get into the metaphysical aspects of it, because I’m still working on learning this.  What I want to have you consider is that when we hold on to clutter, what we are doing is holding on to the emotions and thoughts attached to them.

  • I don’t know where to start
  • I can’t deal with it right now
  • It’s just way too much to handle
  • I don’t want to look at those old bills
  • I don’t know what to do with those old birthday cards.  I don’t need to keep them but I would feel guilty throwing them away
  • How did I let it get this bad?

These negative thoughts and feelings then carry with us, making us feel lousy about ourselves. We beat ourselves up, making ourselves feel guilty, avoiding a task that feels like Everest.

Where do I start? 5 things you can do to declutter today.

I like to keep things simple (and fun!).

  1. Designate one spot in your home for ALL incoming paper.  This includes bills, flyers, permission slips from your children’s school, greeting cards, letters, etc. I’m serious.  Designate ONE spot for ALL of it. This can be a spot on your kitchen counter, by your front door, on your desk, at the bottom of your stairs – choose ONE spot that works for YOU and your family. This will ensure that nothing gets forgotten or misplaced.  I’ll expand more on what to do after this in another post.
  2. Bag the trash. Take a trash bag, plastic grocery bag (whatever bag floats your boat). Starting at the entrance of your home and moving through every room in the house or apartment, pick up everthing that is actually trash, and put it in your bag.  These things don’t belong in your home and it’s time to get rid of them. You know, that chocolate wrapper that’s sitting on your coffee table, the used tissue your kid left on the floor, the price tag from the t-shirt your husband bought last weekend. Pick them all up, put them in the bag and get it out.
  3. Box up donations. Grab an empty laundry basket, hook it on your hip and just like the “Bag the trash” exercise, start at the entrance of your home and move through every room. Identify any items that you longer love and no longer serve a purpose in your life and can still be incredibly joyful and useful to someone else. Fill up your laundry basket with items you are ready to part with. Once you’ve filled up your basket, box them up and drop them off at goodwill. I like to do my drop-offs at the local Value Village donation centre or, if I have a lot (or my client has a lot to donate), I call up Diabetes Canada to arrange for a free pick-up.
  4. Pick ONE shelf or drawer to purge. Mmmmmm….. My favourite  drawer to purge is the bathroom drawer. For some reason, this one is so fun for me! Apply the same principles to any space you decide to tackle.  Pull everything out – dump out the whole drawer on your counter or floor. Go through every single item and decide what you are going to toss, recycle, donate or keep. I’m always amazed with the amount of cosmetic samples I find in bathroom drawers that never get used – toss them out! Once you’ve done the purge, give the drawer or shelf a good wipe down (remember, we are clearing out the negative energy, so start with a clean space) before sorting and organizing your items back in.
  5. Pick up 5 things and find a home for them. My mom used to say to me, “everything has a home.” As a teenager, this used to drive me crazy, but I get it now.  It’s so calming when everything has a place to call home.  When your space is cluttered up, all you have to do is start by picking 5 things to put away. This small and simple exercise can start to make a difference in how your space feels as you move towards being decluttered.

Take imperfect action.

What often holds us back from doing anything in life is the expectation for perfection. Forget about it! Throw perfection out the door and aim for great. Aiming for a perfect anything is only serving to create huge pressure that we don’t need.  Listen.  It’s just clutter – that’s imperfect, right? Just get started, start small, make it fun, put on some music, keep it simple.

“The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” ~ Amelia Earhart ~