businesswoman on the phone is sitting at a table full of paperwork

Whether it’s piles of paper, stacks of old magazines or old clothes, clutter can find its way into our home and offices. What clutters our space, also clutters our mind, keeping you from thinking clearly and resulting in anxiety and stress.

Often we hold onto things for fear we might need it in the future {what if someone asks me about that article}; or hope we might lose those pounds and fit into it again {great excuse to then buy a new outfit}; or the item holds an emotional attachment {yes the mug is broken, but I was drinking from it when my son got his acceptance to college}.

When you look at your piles of clutter how does it make you feel? Are you overwhelmed, feel a sense of dread that you could never tackle the mess or does dealing with it make you feel a headache coming on?

When we hold onto physical things, it impacts the mind as well. Aside from the feelings you may have experienced in the exercise above, you might find it difficult to think clearly and overall feel a sense of anxiety and stress.

As we recognize the negative impact clutter can have on us, it can be just as overwhelming to think about tackling it. That is where breaking it into small, attainable chunks can facilitate your moving forward. Whether it is your desk, the pile of mail that sits on your counter, or the old clothes that take space in your closet, you can take simple steps to clearing the clutter.

  1. To begin, set yourself a small goal, either with a time limit or a number of items. For example, tell yourself that you will spend five minutes a day clearing clutter off your desk. Five minutes seems much more doable that tackling the whole thing, doesn’t it? If after you get started, you get into a rhythm and want to go longer, go for it, but set a minimum amount of time that feels comfortable for you.

Another option is to target a number of items. If you are attacking your closet, looking to cleanse it of clutter, maybe set a goal to identify five shirts today that you no longer need. Revisit your closet the next day and the next continuing to identify five items until you feel you have gone through the entire closet.

  1. As you review your items to consider whether or not to discard them, consider the following questions:

For your desk and papers:

  • When was the last time I used or accessed this information?
  • Is this information available someplace else, making it a duplicate? E.g. a bank statement that is accessible online
  • Is there more up-to-date information, making this obsolete?
  • If I am going to keep it, where is a logical place for me to store it so I can easily access it?

For your closet:

  • When was the last time I wore it?
  • Does it flatter me?
  • Do I feel comfortable in it?
  • Does it fit?
  • Am I holding on to it just because of sentimental reasons? We all have a shirt, jacket or something that holds meaning but has lived out its life.
  • Could someone else find pleasure in using it? If yes donate the item. Sometimes knowing it will find a good home makes it easier to let it go.
  • Sentimental
    • Are you holding on to it because you like it or because you feel obligated because it was handed down? If yes, consider passing it on to someone else who may appreciate it or donate it to someone who can give it a good home.
    • Is it in your collection of stuff because it may be worth something someday? Your space and mind are worth the clearing
  1. Return to removing your clutter each day and mark on your calendar the days that you complete the minimum five minutes and celebrate your progress. Most importantly, if you miss a day, don’t scold yourself or believe you can’t do it. Step up and do it again and congratulate yourself for not giving up.

Starting to eliminate clutter can be difficult, but once you start often it becomes freeing and a welcomed activity. So give it a try. Set your goal, set your timer and clear the clutter in your home and in your mind.

Share with me below your goal of eliminating clutter and then check in with me on your progress and how it makes you feel!