Home-Clutter and Mind-Clutter – Summary of the ‘Clutter Series’

The relationship between the clutter in our home and the clutter in our mind

TheClutter Series 

The ‘Clutter Series’ focuses on the clutter in our homes. However, it also refers to the close relationship between our physical clutter and the clutter in our minds.

The ‘Mind-Decluttering Series

It builds on the content of the ‘Clutter Series’. The focus here, however, is on the work we can do to declutter our mind and to make our life in all areas (including our homes) better and more enjoyable.

This series helps us understand the power of our mind and how our thinking creates the results in our life.

We need to learn to declutter and organise our thoughts and feelings on a regular basis. This enables us to take action and create positive changes and results in all areas of our life.

Before we start the mind-decluttering work, let’s briefly summarise what we have learned about home-decluttering, and about the relationship between home-clutter and mind-clutter:

The most important insights of the ‘Clutter Series’

Part 1, What is clutter? Why is your clutter different to mine?

Clutter is anything that no longer serves us. Thus any decluttering decision is absolutely subjective.

Our personal situation and our individual values, beliefs and perceptions determine what is clutter – it can mean something different to each of us.

If you decide that something you own is clutter, it’s clutter. If you decide something isn’t clutter, it’s not clutter. No matter what someone else says about your stuff.

Part 2, What are the negative side-effects of clutter?

Clutter steals our energy, it limits our personal potential, and decreases our decision-making ability – we tend to feel stuck, overwhelmed and stressed.

We often struggle to take action and change our life to the better.

Part 3, What are the benefits of a clutterfree home?

Being aware of the benefits of a clutterfree home can help us to stay motivated and excited during the decluttering process:

If we let go of what no longer serves us we can only win: More space, more time, more money, more productivity, more peace of mind.

Part 4, What causes clutter? Part 1: The inflow of stuff is too high

Impulsive and excessive shopping is one of the main causes of a too high inflow of stuff into our homes.

We all have our own special and very personal reasons why we buy too much.

These are some of the reasons:

Escaping from difficult emotions, fearing of missing out, feeling excessively attached to past experiences, hunting for live improvements, etc.

Part 5, What causes clutter? Part 2: The outflow of stuff is too low

Often, we don’t pay attention to the point in time when our formerly needed and used belongings have done their job. They could actually go but we keep them. They become clutter.

We all have our own personal reasons why we want to keep things that no longer serve us, for example:

We believe the stuff has still a financial value, feelings of guilt or shame keep us stuck with unwanted items, we want to avoid change and decision-making, we lack self-awareness or declutter-skills, we have not time to sort our stuff, etc.

Part 6, What is decluttering?

Decluttering consists of two main activities:

The practical/physical activity of removing/discarding the things we decided to get rid of and the mental/emotional activity of making decisions about what belongs to the category of things we no longer need, use or love.

If we wish to make our decluttering project a success, we have to ensure that both activities are conducted efficiently.

Part 7, What are the benefits of the decluttering activity?

Making decluttering-decisions in our home offers the opportunity to simultaneously make positive changes in other areas of our life as well.

If we are willing to invest some time and energy to prepare ourselves and the working process properly, the activity of decluttering can evolve from a very productive home-improvement experience to becoming a powerful self-development and life-improvement exercise.

Part 8, How does decluttering help us to become better decision-makers?

Making hundreds of small and large decluttering decisions improves our general decision-making skills and our self-confidence – we become experienced decision-makers which helps us in all areas of our life.

Decision-making increases our self-awareness. We learn to better understand what’s truly important to us, thus each decision we make helps us to make the next decision easier.

Making decisions and getting active result in feeling more powerful and in control

Decluttering decisions make it easier to accept or initiate change.

Part 9, Why is the preparation of decluttering projects so important?

For most of us, decluttering our home is a challenging project. Like any bigger project it needs proper preparation.

To make real change happen, we need to invest some time and mental work before the practical activity of decluttering physical belongings begins. We need to understand where we are now (current reality), where we want to go (vision, values, and goals), and how we want to get there (action plan).

Part 10, How do our values and our vision help us to make better (declutter) decisions?

Becoming aware of our core values and our vision makes us feel stronger, more confident, and more decisive.

Decluttering can be seen as the process of honouring our deepest held values. Every time we decide to keep or to let go of an item, we are effectively saying, ‘This matters to me’ or ‘This is no longer a priority’.

Our vision determines our direction in life. Getting clear on where we want to go is essential for setting ourselves up for long term success, not just a temporary adjustment. Once we begin to design a picture of the live we desire to live, making decluttering decisions become easier.

P.S.

Do you have any questions regarding the clutter in your home that the ‘Clutter Series‘ and the series ‘Clutterfree Life Transitions – Preparations‘ and ‘Infos & Tips‘ haven’t answered?

Let’s talk. Get started with decluttering your home and your mind.

Take the first step of your mind- (and life-) decluttering journey today.

Schedule your free Getting-Started Session

The ‘Clutter Series’, Part 10 – How our values and vision help us to make (declutter) decisions

THE CLUTTER SERIES

The ‘Clutter Series’ discusses important aspects of the clutter in our homes and minds, including the close relationship between clutter and our general wellbeing.

Click here to read a summary of the main insights of this series.

How our values and vision help us to make (declutter) decisions

Before we can start to make decisions about our belongings, we have to become well aware of where we are now, how we got there, why you want to change our home/life,  and where we want to go.

Having a deep understanding of our current situation, our values and our vision for the future enables us to make the right decisions during the decluttering process and to get and stay focused and motivated.

OUR VALUES

Decluttering can be seen a process of honouring our deepest held values.

Every time we decide to keep or let go of an item, we are effectively saying, “This matters to me” or “This is no longer a priority.” By decluttering an entire home, we have to make this decision hundreds of times.

In order to make the right decisions, it is vital for us to clarify and confirm our personal values and motivations before we start to develop a vision for the next chapter of our life and set goals for our decluttering projects.

Differentiating between values and goals is important because in the long run it’s our values – not our goals – that direct and motivate us. We experience our greatest personal alignment with ourselves when we set goals and take actions that are in line with our values.

Values are what we find meaningful and important in our life, giving us clarity and direction. They are like an internal compass that guides and motivates us.

Values exist, whether we recognise them or not. Life can be much easier when we consciously acknowledge our values – and when we make plans and decisions that honour them.

Having clear values not only keeps us focused and motivated. They help us to make decisions.

Whenever we have to make a decision or choice we can ask ourselves

‘Is this (activity, decision, commitment, possession) in alignment with my values?’

Usually, our decision to declutter / to make changes in our life has to do with our values. We are probably not happy with the current reality because we have neglected some of our important values – we haven’t ‘valued’ enough what’s really important to us.

Redirecting our attention to our core values helps us to truly understand our Why – the purpose behind our decluttering ambitions:

    • Why the clutter in our home (or the change in our life) is a problem for us,
    • and why we decided to get active and to do something to make things better.

Whenever later in the decluttering / change process we struggle to set goals or to decide on the next action steps, or when we experience a drop in energy and motivation levels – we can remind ourselves of our core values and let them be our guide.

For lasting change to occur we have to create new supportive habits and release the ones that no longer serve us. Habit change can be a challenge, so being clear on our ‘why’ and our values is essential in this regard, too.

OUR VISION

Our vision determines our direction in life.

Once we begin to design a picture of the life we desire to live, making decluttering decisions becomes easier.  

Getting clear on where we want to go is essential for setting ourselves up for long term success, not just a temporary adjustment.

    • It’s hard to figure out how and where to move if our mind is still occupied by the past. That’s one of the main reasons why managing change can be so demanding and frustrating.
    • It can also happen that we feel stuck and unsure because we are surrounded by too many options or opportunities.
    • Or we might feel lost and desperate because we don’t see any alternatives at all, no way out of the current reality.

Defining our vision of the future in a clear way – a simple powerful statement, just a word or a short phrase – can help us to become unstuck and get active.

Having a clear vision gives us confidence and motivates us to let go of what no longer serves us and to confidently say ‘good bye’ to the things and issues (thoughts, feelings) of the past.

Similar to our values, our vision also helps us to make confident decisions at crossroads and to be deliberate in mapping our way to our desired destination.

Whenever we have to make a difficult decision or choice, we can ask ourselves

‘Does this (activity, decision, commitment) take me closer to my vision?’

Being aware of our core values and our vision makes us feel stronger, and more confident and decisive.

In our daily lives, we often make decisions without thinking much about them. We base them on habit, convenience, conformity.

But knowing our values and our vision – and continually getting in touch with them – allows us to take a step back and to remember ourselves to live our life with purpose, not by default.

Let’s talk about your declutter project, and about your values and your vision for a clutterfree life.

Take the first step of your mind- (and life-) decluttering journey today.

Schedule your free Getting-Started Session

The ‘Clutter Series’, Part 9 – Why is the preparation of decluttering projects so important?

THE CLUTTER SERIES

The ‘Clutter Series’ discusses important aspects of the clutter in our homes and minds, including the close relationship between clutter and our general wellbeing.

Click here to read a summary of the main insights of this series.

Why is the preparation of decluttering projects so important?

For most of us, decluttering our home is a challenging project. Like other bigger projects it needs proper preparation.

Example: Running a marathon

Running a marathon is a good example of another project that – like decluttering – intends to combine the achievement of a special goal with a general improvement of life quality.

Most of us wouldn’t put on running shoes and (try to) run a marathon after a year spent on the sofa.

Instead, we would make sure that we get properly prepared before we step on the starting line on the day of the race.

Our preparation might look like this:

    • We define our goal in detail and ensure that we understand our motivation behind it: Why did we choose this goal and why is it so important to us? What exactly do we wish to achieve?
    • We analyse our starting point – our fitness and experience levels -, and determine the steps that we have to take to make ourselves well prepared for taking action (running a marathon). 
    • We create a detailed action plan to make sure that we use our time, energy and other resources in an efficient way. We get active and start to follow our training plan

Preparation of a decluttering project

A proper preparation is equally important if we want to ensure that we have a good start with our decluttering project and to increase our chances to arrive safely at the finish-line.

Removing the clutter without a deep understanding of its causes and its ‘purpose’ in our life is like ‘sending it on a short holiday’. We remove the symptoms for a while but we don’t resolve the underlying problem(s). The clutter will come back!

To make real change happen, we need to invest some time and mental work before the practical activity of decluttering physical belongings begins.

If we prepare the process carefully, if we organise it in a systematic way and conduct it consciously, step by step, we can use our decluttering project to create positive changes, in your home and in our life.


P.S.

It’s easy to think that decluttering is hard.  

However, it’s absolutely doable – we just have to get started. ☺

Take the first step of your mind- (and life-) decluttering journey today.

Schedule your free Getting-Started Session

The ‘Clutter Series’, Part 8 – How our decluttering work helps us become better decision-makers

THE CLUTTER SERIES

The ‘Clutter Series’ discusses important aspects of the clutter in our homes and minds, including the close relationship between clutter and our general wellbeing.

Click here to read a summary of the main insights of this series.

How decluttering helps us become better decision-makers

Decluttering consists of two main activities: (Click to read: What is decluttering)

    • The practical/physical activity of removing/getting out the things we decided to get rid of,
    • and the mental/emotional activity of making decisions about what belongs to the category of things we no longer need/want to have with us.

The first activity – the physical work – has to be done properly, of course, if we wish to make our decluttering project a success.

However, it’s the second activity – making decisionsthat holds the potential of far-reaching life changes.

Immobilisation and stagnation are caused by a lack of decision making.

That’s how the clutter comes into our home:

We, for example, make spontaneous shopping decisions without considering how useful the new possessions actually are to us. And we avoid to make let-go decisions about those of our possession that we no longer use, need, love.

So things that don’t serve us are allowed to come in and then to stay where they are – they don’t get used, they don’t move, they become clutter.

When we make decisions, we create momentum and action.

As soon as we decide to declutter our home, we have done the first and probably most important decision of the decluttering process:

We made the decision to no longer tolerate the current reality, to change it actively, and to move on to a better – or at least different – future.

Decluttering improves our decision-making skills and confidence.

When we sort and clear up our stuff we need to make decisions about whether to keep or discard items, and where to put them. This is not easy, at least not in the beginning.

However, while looking at hundreds of items and asking ourselves if they serve us, we get fitter and faster in making decisions.

We begin to feel more confident about our decision-making skills, and we are more willing to use these skills – not only to solve clutter problems but also to make changes in other areas of our life.

Decision-making increases our self-awareness.

Many of our belongings are closely connected to certain expectations or emotions which we are often not consciously aware of.

We buy something because we believe: If I own this thing, I will be, look or feel a certain way.

For example: If I buy this nice dining table, I will become a great entertainer. If I get new running shoes, I’ll get properly prepared for the marathon. If I use this cream, my skin will look fresh and young.

As soon as we realise and accept the fact that we often buy things because of the person we want to be or the lifestyle we want to have, we can dig a bit deeper to find the emotions, needs and desires behind our shopping behaviour.

The analysis of our deeper motivations doesn’t feel comfortable all the time, we might experience feelings of guilt or shame.

But the self-discovery process helps us to let go of our emotional attachment to certain things.  

We gain clarity and it becomes easier to decide what needs to go because it has nothing to do with our true self.

If we decide to let go of false aspirations and hopes we also get rid of stress and negative emotions. 

Decision-making requires us to uncover and realise our values and our vision in life.

Before we can start to make decision about our belongings, we have to become well aware of where we are, how we got there, why you want to change our home/life, and where we want to go.

Having a deep understanding of our current situation, our values and our vision for the future enables us to make the right decisions during the decluttering process and to get and stay focused and motivated.

Making decisions and getting active result in feeling more powerful and in control.

In most paralysing life-change situations just getting active, doing something, can immediately make us feel stronger and more in control.

Decluttering a room in our home, for example, or clearing up a kitchen drawer, re-organising the paperwork – these are all examples of hands-on activities that directly deliver visible results, an experience of personal power, and a proof of our ability to initiate positive change.

“A messy closet or an overflowing in-basket is a trivial inconvenience, yet getting control of our stuff makes us feel more in control of our lives.” (Gretchen Rubin)

Decluttering helps us to learn from past decisions.

One of the reason why decluttering can be quite painful is because it confronts us with the effects of our past decisions.

We, for example, realise how much money we spent on items that have become clutter. This can cause feelings of shame and regret.

The upside of facing our past mistakes is that we can learn from them.

Becoming more aware of what went wrong can help us to make better decisions in the future. We might also become more intentional in our shopping habits.

Decluttering decisions make it easier to accept or initiate change.

The only way to grow and expand is to release the past.

Our mind, however, doesn’t want us to change, it wants us to be safe by taking no risks and holding on to what we know and are used to.

If we are hanging on to the physical items that belonged to our past, we may find it difficult to grow and develop. We tend to beat ourselves up for not enjoying the same things we used to, or not getting enough use out of some equipment we once loved.

Sorting through our belonging and discarding what no longer serves us allows to remove the past from our space physically, and this is an important step in figuring out new opportunities and creating change.  

Decluttering decisions are especially helpful in life-change situations.

Decluttering during or after a life transition can help us to make necessary – and often unwanted –  changes easier.

It’s hard to move on into a new chapter of our life if we are surrounded by reminders of past phases of our life and past relationships and experiences.

Decluttering physical items in our home can enable us to let go of old aspects of ourselves that are no longer applicable to our current life or the life we now want to live.

The decluttering process can also be used to process and then let go of feelings of sadness, grief or regret that are tied to items in our home.

Knowing for sure what we wish to leave behind because it no longer serves us, makes it is easier to decide how to move on and what to take along when we enter a new chapter in our life.

Take the first step of your mind- (and life-) decluttering journey today.

Schedule your free Getting-Started Session

The ‘Clutter Series’, Part 7 – The benefits of the Decluttering-Activity

THE CLUTTER SERIES

The ‘Clutter Series’ discusses important aspects of the clutter in our homes and minds, including the close relationship between clutter and our general wellbeing.

Click here to read a summary of the main insights of this series.

What are the benefits of the decluttering-activity?

The most obvious purpose of a decluttering project is, of course, to get the clutter out, to clear our home of physical clutter. And, yes, achieving this goal – creating a clutter-free living place – has a range of benefits.

As a result of the decluttering process we usually gain more space and time, we save money, become more productive and efficient, we experience more peace of mind. (Click here to read about the benefits of a clutterfree home)

However, the benefits of the decluttering activity can be even bigger than the benefits of the decluttering results.

Making declutter-decisions in our home offers the opportunity to simultaneously make positive changes in other areas of our life.

Yes, depending on the size of our home and the amount of accumulated clutter, the decluttering process can be very demanding, challenging, exhausting, time consuming. That’s why many of us feel overwhelmed even before we start to clear up and why we often postpone the project again and again.

However, if we are willing to invest some time and energy to prepare ourselves and the working process properly, the activity of decluttering can evolve from being a very productive home-improvement experience to becoming a powerful self-development exercise.

Decluttering creates awareness, clarity and direction.

When we start to make decisions about our belongings, we have to be(come) well aware of what’s important to us and what’s not, what we want to change and what not, and why we want to make changes in our home/life.

The decluttering process offers the opportunity to learn about our very personal values. It can help us to (re)define our vision for our life. It offers a way to re-direct our attention and energy towards the areas and goals of our life that are truly important to us.

Decluttering improves our decision-making skills.

When we sort and clear up our stuff we need to make decisions about whether to keep or discard items, and where to put them. This is not easy, at least not in the beginning.

However, while looking at hundreds of items and asking ourselves if they serve us, we get fitter and faster in making decisions.

We begin to feel more confident about our decision-making skills, and we are more willing to use these skills – not only to solve clutter problems but also to make changes in other areas of our life.

Decluttering increases our confidence and sense of self-efficacy.

Tackling a declutter project successfully changes how we experience ourselves and our ability to take action and control in our life.

The process of decluttering and organising our belongings delivers real and visible results: We take action and directly experience the results of our hard work. This experience of effectiveness and success triggers a sense of ‘I can take action’, ‘I can organise’, ‘I can achieve results’. It allows us kind of start believing in ourselves and our ability to accomplish tasks.

Our sense of self-efficacy gets a boost and this can play a major role in how we approach goals, tasks and challenges in other areas of our life.  

Thus, a deliberately prepared and conducted decluttering project not only results in more space in our home.

It also creates more spaciousness in our mind – we gain awareness, clarity and focus, we experience an increase in self-confidence and new energy to change whatever we want to change and to move on with our life.

Take the first step of your mind- (and life-) decluttering journey today.

Schedule your free Getting-Started Session

The ‘Clutter Series’, Part 6 – What is decluttering?

THE CLUTTER SERIES

The ‘Clutter Series’ discusses important aspects of the clutter in our homes and minds, including the close relationship between clutter and our general wellbeing.

Click here to read a summary of the main insights of this series.

What is decluttering?

If we ask Google what decluttering is, we get answers like these:

Definitions of decluttering:

Decluttering consists of two main activities:

    • The practical/physical activity of removing/discarding the things we decided to get rid of,
    • and the mental/emotional activity of making decisions about what belongs to the category of things we no longer need/use/love.

If we wish to make our decluttering project a success we have to ensure that both activities are conducted efficiently.

The physical part – taking our belongings out, arranging them in a working area for the sorting process, packing and storing things, carrying items around and organising the discarding of clutter – can be delegated. It can be done by someone else – a family member, a friend or a service contractor such as a professional organiser or declutter expert.

However, we are the ones who have to manage the mental/emotional part of the job – we have to make the decisions about what still serves us and should be kept, and what no longer adds value to our life and should go.

Often, it’s our inability to make decisions that causes clutter.

A lack of awareness about our values and priorities leads to procrastination.

We postpone decluttering-decisions because we don’t feel able to decide what’s important to us and what’s not – we fear we could make wrong decisions that we might regret later.

That’s why we should invest some time and effort to make ourselves aware of our core values and to determine the purpose of declutter/change process.

Getting a deep understanding of our current situation, our values and our vision enables us to make the ‘right’ decisions later in the process and to get and stay focused and motivated on our declutter/change journey.

Thus, as soon as we start to appreciate getting rid of clutter as an opportunity to honour and realise our values, the process of ‘decluttering’ loses its negative image. Instead of being the unpleasant activity of just throwing things away, it evolves as a powerful ‘self-awareness tool’ which helps to add clarity and direction to our life

We no longer have to hate our clutter or feel ashamed of it, we can accept it as what it actually is: a collection of belongings that were useful to us at some point in our life but no longer serve our current/future needs.

Before we declutter anything, we take the time to thoroughly evaluate and ‘understand’ our belongings. We ‘study’ anything we own, but especially the clutter, and explore its former meaning and value.

Now we consider and decide what’s of current and future value to us. These are the things we want to keep.

Finally, we are able to decisively loosen our attachment to the objects and issues of our past which no longer serve us, and sort them out.

Take the first step of your mind- (and life-) decluttering journey today.

Schedule your free Getting-Started Session

The ‘Clutter Series’, Part 5 – What causes clutter? Part 2 – The outflow is too low

THE CLUTTER SERIES

The ‘Clutter Series’ discusses important aspects of the clutter in our homes and minds, including the close relationship between clutter and our general wellbeing.

Click here to read a summary of the main insights of this series.

What causes clutter? – Part 2: The outflow of no longer needed belongings is too low

The imbalance of inflows and outflows

The constant inflow of new belongings becomes a problem for many of us because we don’t ensure that it’s met by a constant outflow of things.

We don’t admit that we bought something we actually don’t need and don’t use. And so we keep it, out of guilt or shame, or just because we forget about its existence.

And we don’t pay attention to that point in time when our formerly needed and used belongings have done their job and become clutter. We keep them, too.

Why do we struggle to make decisions and to let go of what no longer serves us?

There are as many reasons why clutter is kept as there are people who keep clutter. We all have our very personal reasons and explanations.

Some of them are:

The remaining financial value

We are hesitant to give away things that we spent a lot of money on. We believe that the items still hold a high value because we remember what we spent on them. It feels wasteful to just let them go.

Feelings of guilt or shame

We keep things because we feel guilty for the money we spent on them already and don’t want to feel even more guilt for giving them away – although we don’t use them (any longer).

Guilt is also holding us back from letting go of things we have been given as gifts and have never used/liked.

Holding on to the past

We might still appreciate and feel grateful for the value that some of our belongings have added to our life in the past. Now we continue to hold on to them because we still cling to our past and struggle to let go of anything that relates to ‘the good old times’.

Avoiding change

Change is seldom easy and letting go of things equals actively making changes in our lives. This can feel terrifying. Thus, we prefer to persuade ourselves that we are comfortable with how things are now and that there is no need to change/declutter anything.

Avoiding decision-making

The success of any decluttering process depends on our willingness to make decisions. Decision-making sucks energy. And it’s risky. What if we decide to give something away and later regret that?

General fear of letting go

As soon as we start to consider getting rid of things, we begin to rationalise how useful they might potentially be, even if we haven’t used them for years. Suddenly something we have nearly forgotten about becomes an important possession again.

Lack of self-awareness

We can’t say with confidence what’s important to us and has to be kept, and what’s no longer important and can go. This happens when we are not aware of our core values. We can’t decide what items no longer serve us if we don’t know what actually does serve us and adds value to our life.

Lack of declutter-skills

Some of us grew up in a cluttered environment and/or never were taught how to organise and arrange our households and belongings. If we don’t know how to do the decluttering and how to start, it’s no wonder that we never start.

Lack of time

Not having enough time to declutter has to do with our priorities. If our days are filled with tasks and work we value higher than our decluttering project, we feel it’s justified to postpone the clearing job again and again.  

Desiring, buying and owning things is not the problem when it comes to clutter.

The problem comes when we are not willing or able to take full responsibility for the consequences that our decisions about the inflow and outflow of things have on our home and our life. 

Creating greater self-awareness results in better decision-making,

it is the necessary first step of our journey into a clutterfree life:

    • Becoming aware of our core values helps us to determine what’s important to us and what’s not.
    • Defining our purpose, the vision of the current or next chapter in our life, ensures that we can confidently decide what not longer serves us and holds us back in the past.
    • Honestly assessing our belief systems and emotions enables us to uncover the self-limiting feelings and behaviours that contribute to the creation of the clutter in our homes/lives.
    • Evaluating our personal strengths and weaknesses allows us to identify the skill sets we intend to develop ourselves and the type and extent of support we need from others.  

Take the first step of your mind- (and life-) decluttering journey today.

Schedule your free Getting-Started Session

The ‘Clutter Series’, Part 4 – What causes clutter? Part 1 – The inflow is to high

THE CLUTTER SERIES

The ‘Clutter Series’ discusses important aspects of the clutter in our homes and minds, including the close relationship between clutter and our general wellbeing.

Click here to read a summary of the main insights of this series.

What causes clutter? – Part 1: The inflow of new possessions is too high

The cause of ‘fake’ clutter

In some cases, a lack of organisational systems can create the incorrect impression that our place is full of clutter.

In this case, the seemingly ‘cluttered’ area is actually not covered by clutter-items. Instead, the things lying around in a cluttered way are truly valued possessions, things that serve us and are used frequently.

The only problem with these spread around items is that they don’t have found a home yet, we haven’t assigned a place where they are kept between the times we use them.

The solution to this ‘clutter’ problem is to set up clear rules and to determine where we store our possessions when we don’t need/use them.

The causes of ‘real’ clutter

Usually, though, the accumulation of our ‘true’ clutter – things that don’t serve us (any longer) – is caused by an imbalance in the circulation of stuff:

The inflow of new possessions coming into our home is too high, and the outflow of no longer used/wanted belongings is too low.

Why do we bring so much stuff into our homes?

Sometimes, we are not directly responsible for the things that enter our home:

We inherit  belongings from a relative, we take in stuff after the death of a close family member, we are given gifts from family and friends, our new partner moves in and brings along a complete set of household belongings, etc.

In most cases, however, we are the ones who initiate, arrange, allow the inflow of new stuff:

We go shopping.

Acquiring new things has never been easier than today and many of us spend a lot of time (and money) in shopping malls and with online shopping.

Some of our new possessions might be useful, attractive or enjoyable in the beginning.

However, often our shopping trips end with us carrying heavy bags of new stuff home that we actually don’t need or like.

Impulsive and excessive shopping has many causes.

We all have our own special and very personal reasons why we buy what we buy and why we sometimes acquire too many or the wrong things. Often, we are not even aware of the motivations behind our shopping decisions.

These are some of the reasons why we acquire more than we need / are able to use:

Escape from difficult emotions

We don’t want to experience ‘negative’ emotions such as feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety, boredom, and use shopping as a distraction or avoidance strategy.

Fear of missing out

We constantly compare ourselves with others and fear that their life(-style) is better or more exciting than ours and that we risk to fall behind if we don’t follow the latest trends and buy the current ‘must-haves’.

Reminders of past experiences

We buy souvenirs and other mementos as reminders and proofs of places we visited, achievements and experiences we made, events we attended.

Fear of lacking resources

We buy things we don’t want to use now but fear we might need/miss at some point in the future.

Running after life improvements

We believe advertisements telling us that we will feel happier, have more fun, look better if we acquire and use certain things.

There are so many other reasons – Which are yours?

If we define ‘clutter’ as belongings that don’t serve us, we have to admit that some of our newly acquired possessions become clutter as soon as they enter our home – that’s when we unpack and then never use them.

However, most of our clutter doesn’t actually start its life as clutter. We first use/love the things we bring in, we appreciate their existence and honour their value.

But in time – over months or years – they loose their attractiveness and usefulness, we no longer need, use or like them.

If we then don’t make the decision to discard them, they become clutter.

In the next article of this series, we’ll discuss the other big cause of clutter: The outflow of no longer needed belongings is too low.

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Take the first step of your mind- (and life-) decluttering journey today.

Schedule your free Getting-Started Session

The ‘Clutter Series’, Part 3 – The benefits of a clutterfree home

THE CLUTTER SERIES

The ‘Clutter Series’ discusses important aspects of the clutter in our homes and minds, including the close relationship between clutter and our general wellbeing.

Click here to read a summary of the main insights of this series.

What are the benefits of a clutterfree home?

Living in a clutter-free and organised home has significant positive effects on our daily life.

Think about your own situation. What do you wish to change? How would you like your life to be different?

Then have a look at this list of the benefits you can expect to gain as soon as you have got out all the clutter from your home, mind and life:

More space

    • Having less stuff means having more room for activities such as entertaining guests or working on projects, playing with the kids.
    • Having less allows us to use storage areas more efficiently.
    • Having less stuff lying around in our home lets us move around easily and safely.
    • More physical space creates more openness and space for new things to come into our life.

More time

    • Having less means having less things to sort and arrange, to take out and put away.
    • We save time because tidying and cleaning becomes faster and more efficient.
    • Having less means less effort and time to keep everything organised.
    • We save time by quickly finding what we need when we need it.
    • We need less time to choose what we want to use/wear.

More money

    • We save money by not having to buy duplicates of things we own but can’t find.
    • We know and we like what we own, which keeps impulsive or frustration shopping at bay.

More productivity

    • Having clear surfaces and working areas makes starting to work on a task at any time easy.
    • We can easier focus on what we are doing when there is little to distract us.
    • More order and clear spaces give more room for creativity and imagination.
    • Our household work can be organised and done faster and more efficiently.

More peace of mind

    • There is also less mental work to do: The less we have, the less we have to take care of or worry about.
    • A spacious environment without clutter allows our mind to relax and calm down.
    • We enjoy our home more when we are only surrounded by things we like and use.
    • We feel more in control when we know that there is nothing that shouldn’t be there.
    • We experience less anxiety and confusion if our surroundings no longer feel out of order.

What are your top 3 upsides of a clutterfree home? What’s the final goal of your decluttering / change project?

Being aware of the positive changes you wish to create can help you to stay motivated and excited during the decluttering process.

Take the first step of your mind- (and life-) decluttering journey today.

Schedule your free Getting-Started Session

The ‘Clutter Series’, Part 2 – The negative side effects of clutter

THE CLUTTER SERIES

The ‘Clutter Series’ discusses important aspects of the clutter in our homes and minds, including the close relationship between clutter and our general wellbeing.

Click here to read a summary of the main insights of this series.

What are the negative side-effects of clutter?

If we struggle to make let-go decisions, if we keep belongings that no longer serve us, we end up with clutter. We get surrounded by things that we no longer need, use, love.

Having too much clutter in our home creates clutter in our mind, too, and can make our life unnecessarily difficult and frustrating.

Clutter steals our energy, it limits our personal potential, and decreases our decision-making ability – we tend to feel stuck, overwhelmed and stressed.

We often struggle to take action to change our life to the better.

Living in a cluttered environment can be very harmful to our general well-being, mental health and social relationships.

These are just some of the many negative side-effects of clutter:

      • It’s tough to feel energised and excited when clutter pulls us down.
      • It’s tough to gratefully appreciate what we value and love if it’s hidden under layers of other stuff.
      • It’s tough to get active and take control when we feel encircled and besieged by an ‘army’ of clutter piles.
      • It’s tough to focus on projects and tasks when the clutter around us suppresses our attention and creativity.
      • It’s tough to engage with family and friends when our clutter leaves no space to entertain them.
      • It’s tough to sit back and just relax when our clutter stares at us and makes us feel lazy and guilty.

During major life transitions, getting rid of clutter becomes an absolute necessity: 

Change needs space: We have to be willing to let go of the old to make space for the new.

However, our physical and emotional clutter is very powerful in holding us back.

To move forward, into a new phase of our life, we need to make sure that we are no longer surrounded by stuff that’s related to the past and no longer of value to us.

We have to LET GO to MOVE ON!

Take the first step of your mind- (and life-) decluttering journey today.

Schedule your free Getting-Started Session

The ‘Clutter Series’, Part 1 – What is clutter?

THE CLUTTER SERIES

The ‘Clutter Series’ discusses important aspects of the clutter in our homes and minds, including the close relationship between clutter and our general wellbeing.

Click here to read a summary of the main insights of this series.

What is clutter? – Why is your clutter different to mine?

The definition of ‘clutter’ can be tricky.

I struggled for some time to truly understand and – equally important being a Clutterfree-Life Coach – to explain the meaning of ‘clutter’ in an easy-to-share way with my clients.

Of course, it was always clear to me that supporting my clients doesn’t mean that I try to tell them what’s the clutter in their homes. 

However, as I wanted to help them make confident decisions about the clutter, I needed a definition of ‘clutter’ that was comprehensive and broadly applicable but also clear and simple.  

If we ask Google for help, we get answers like this one:

Clutter is “A collection of things lying about in an untidy state.” (https://www.lexico.com)

This explanation seems to be too simple. Clutter is – just untidy things?

Another definition on the Internet says “Clutter is a lot of things in an untidy state, especially things that are not useful or necessary.” (https://www.collinsdictionary.com)

This definition is a bit more complex/comprehensive. It includes ‘untidiness’, too, but it links the untidiness to ‘a lot of’ things and it also refers to things being ‘not useful or necessary’.

Studying numerous organising and decluttering books and the approaches of several renowned experts in this area helped me to analyse ‘clutter’ from different angles. (Click her to have a look at my favourite quotes from experts.)

However, I don’t find it easy to bring all those different points of view together, into one clear and unambiguous clutter-definition.

Discussing the issue with other professional organisers and with my clients brought interesting insights but not the one and only explanation of clutter that everyone could agree on.

It seems that we all have our own ideas about the meaning of clutter!

And that’s exactly, I now believe, the answer to the clutter question:

There is no one final definition because we all define clutter in a very personal and unique way.

Clutter is in the eye of the beholder. If you decide that something you own is clutter, it’s clutter. If you decide something isn’t clutter, it’s not clutter. No matter what someone else thinks.

Our personal situation and our individual values, beliefs and perceptions determine what clutter is – it can mean something different for each of us.

Clutter can be anything that we keep/store although it doesn’t serve us: we don’t need it, we don’t use it, we don’t love it.

We neglect, postpone or completely avoid making decisions about the value of the things that we surround ourselves with.

The consequence is that those items that no longer are (or never were) valuable to us remain in our home, becoming clutter.

The important point here is:

Our unwillingness or inability to make decisions creates clutter!

How can we become better in decision-making?

If we are not fully aware of our values and priorities, of our purpose and our goals in life, we struggle to decide what’s meaningful to us and what’s not, what serves us and what doesn’t.

Investing some time and effort into the exploration of our values and our beliefs about our life and its purpose has only upsides:

Having a deep understanding of your current situation, your values and your vision will enable you to make the right decisions later in the decluttering process and to get and stay focused and motivated on your declutter/change journey.

Knowing what’s truly important to us not only makes decluttering decisions easier. It also helps us to make decisions in other areas of our life with more confidence.

Take the first step of your mind- (and life-) decluttering journey today.

Schedule your free Getting-Started Session