Do you find it difficult to operate in a chaotic or cluttered environment? I certainly do. My stress levels rise and I find it hard to focus. My productivity, creativity and sense of wellbeing are all adversely affected.
Earlier in life, I used to perceive clutter simply in terms of the things in my physical space. Nowadays my interpretation has widened considerably and extends to different parts of both my inner and outer world.
I view a cluttered life as a stagnant life; a life within which the energy is stuck. There is no room for movement. No room for new opportunities and growth. No room for lightness; for spontaneity; for mental or emotional ‘space’ to work things out. It represents a life that is heavy and clogged up.
This is why I find it therapeutic to periodically review different aspects of my life and have a good de-clutter. Afterwards I feel happier, lighter, and clearer. I am able to focus, and be more creative. Each time I de-clutter I feel like life and I have come into a state of balance; I can breathe with greater ease, settle deeper into my body, and enjoy the experience of living in the moment.
De-clutter Your Physical Environment
The most obvious place to start de-cluttering is in the home. Many of us have a tendency to accumulate more and more ‘stuff’ over time. Here’s a strategy that I find useful for sorting out what needs to go and what needs to stay:
a) If it is broken and beyond repair, I throw it out; b) If it belongs to someone else, I give it back; c) If it doesn’t fit or I don’t like it, I give it away; d) And, here’s the difficult one: if I haven’t touched it for a year I hold it up for a serious review and then, as a general rule, I do the following:
If it is something that is inexpensive and/or easy to obtain, I dispose of it.
If it is something that is expensive and/or difficult to obtain, but someone I know has one that I can borrow, I donate it to the charity shop or sell it on ebay.
If it is something that has sentimental value, or is rare, precious and difficult to get hold of, then I keep it.
It sounds simple enough but discarding things can be mentally and emotionally difficult. I often have to fight the urge to keep things that I haven’t used in years, simply because I think I may need them at some point. A few years ago I took a deep breath and recycled a whole pile of wedding presents my husband and I received but have never used. We have been married for twenty-four years!
Do you struggle with letting things go? When was the last time you de-cluttered your living space?
The next time you come across something you haven’t used in ages, ask yourself why you are keeping it. What is the real reason?
People hoard things for all sorts of psychological reasons that go way beyond rational reasoning. Ask yourself what would happen if you did dispose of it? Who holds the power? You? Or this item that is cluttering up your home?
The rewards of a good clear out go way beyond just creating extra space and tidiness.
De-clutter Your Schedule
A second area of my life that I seek to keep un-cluttered is my schedule.
There was a time when my life was full of duty and obligations relating to my family, work and home. My schedule was so jam-packed that it felt like there was no room to breathe!
Nowadays, I regularly review my schedule and ensure that I am spending my time as I choose. I say ‘no’ to any commitments or requests that are not important to me, or that don’t fit into the projects I am working on.
When was the last time you had some free time and actually chose what you wanted to do with it? Are there things in your daily and weekly schedules that you could discard?
Perhaps you could:
• group similar activities together so you get through them faster,
• delegate some chores or commitments to others,
• do some things less frequently.
By monitoring and reviewing how your time is currently spent and then implementing a few small changes you can reduce your stress levels and give yourself a greater sense of freedom, choice and space.
De-clutter Your Inbox
Like most people I use IT on a daily basis for communicating, promoting my services, learning, leisure. About a year ago it dawned on me that some of the gadgets I use (computer, laptop, tablet and smartphone) were starting to control me! I was researching the characteristics of addiction for a client when I realised I was ticking a few too many of the boxes myself with my incessant checking of texts and emails! This, along with my need to respond to messages immediately and to stockpile ‘useful’ emails resulted in a very cluttered mind and real feelings of overwhelm.
So, I made a few small changes. I now process emails once a day and only respond to urgent ones immediately. I try to keep my email responses short and to the point. And, I have a zero inbox policy where I deal with what I can in the time I have available and move emails to different folders for further action, as pending items, or reading. I also ensure that I am offline when I am writing. Every now and again I take a serious look at all the newsletters I subscribe to that no longer serve me and unsubscribe. All this has de-cluttered my mind and allowed me to regain the power I had handed over to the gadgets in my life.
Who is running the IT show in your life? You? Or, your phone, tablet or computer?
De-clutter Your Relationships
This is a less obvious and more difficult issue to address. When was the last time you reviewed your relationships? Have you ever sat back and thought about the impact that different people have on your mood and sense of wellbeing?
In 2008 I trained as an Electromagnetic Field Balancing Technique Practitioner Since then I have been acutely aware of the energy dynamics that exist between people. I’m always mindful of how people make me feel and, in my personal life, have distanced myself from those people that drag down my energy.
Do you have people like this in your life? Are there some who take a lot from you without giving you anything back in return (emotionally, materially or spiritually)? Perhaps you know some ‘drama queens’ who constantly disturb your peace? Or, maybe you have a lot of friends and acquaintances and can’t relate to all of them with the depth you would like?
Relationships provide a fertile ground for personal growth. Some of us actively use them as a tool for highlighting areas within ourselves that need to develop, grow and heal. But, relationships can also clutter up our lives and disturb our peace. So, there is a balance to be struck. It’s not always possible to cut people out of your life but you do have some choice as to how much time you spend with them. Being mindful of and ‘cleaning up’ the space between you and others can have a significant impact on your stress levels and sense of wellbeing.
De-clutter Your Body
I know how lethargic I feel when I don’t exercise and eat well and this single factor seriously affects the quality of my life. Diets high in fat, sugar, chemicals and processed food have an adverse and coagulating effect on the human body. We all know the benefits of a detox. We feel lighter, brighter and more energetic.
Recently I made some significant changes to my diet based on advice from an Ayurvedic doctor. I have significantly reduced the amount of sugar, gluten and dairy that I consume, and increased the amount of water and fresh vegetables. My digestive system loves it! And I love the new surge of energy I’ve experienced; energy that I can channel into enjoying life.
Are there changes that you could make to your diet and lifestyle? What is your body saying about your current levels of health and wellbeing?
De-clutter Your Mind
This is the big one; the one that can make a colossal difference to the quality of your life in every way.
About thirty years ago someone gave me a little blue book called "The Quiet Mind" by White Eagle. This tiny book, and the spiritual organisation that published it, changed my life. I realised that the cause of most of my suffering wasn’t coming from outside me, it was coming from my own mind. I also realised that if I could de-clutter and quieten down my mind then I could access my divinity and bring true peace, joy and wellbeing into my life. Eckhart Tolle’s life changing book “The Power of Now” reinforced this learning for me. I’ve since been on a long journey spanning decades to transform my crazy, negative, unruly mind to a quieter, calmer and more focused one.
A busy, cluttered mind makes it difficult to relax, to think clearly, to problem solve effectively, to concentrate, and to feel joy. Ultimately it stops a person being happy.
Have you ever spent time observing your mind?
What is it filled with all the time?
Can you control and quieten down your thoughts?
Can you access that place of stillness, of peace, that exists deep down inside all of us?
Mindfulness and meditation are great practices that have been proven to quieten down a busy mind. Taking time out everyday to actively work on this goal can positively change your life forever. If you would like to learn how to meditate and find a practice that fits in perfectly with you and your lifestyle then check out my instantly downloadable home study course.
So, how about spending some time reflecting on the amount of internal and external clutter that exists in your life? Are there areas, in addition to your physical surroundings, that could benefit from a good spring clean?
It’s well worth making the effort.
You will feel lighter, freer and happier.