How to Solve the Heavy Burden of Endless Clutter

Take this simple quiz: What do piles of paper, too many unanswered emails in your inbox, clothes you don’t wear, prescriptions that have expired, random items like toys lying around the house and negative thoughts all have in common?

Answer, please: They are all clutter. Whether physical or mental, all these items take up space, have a heavy presence in your life and emanate a burdensome negative energy.

When you open the door and walk into your office, what do you see? Endless stacks of paper? When you turn on your computer and check your correspondence, are you dismayed to discover an endless stack of unanswered emails in your inbox? What about your home? What are you going to do with those accumulating stack of magazines? Newspapers? Old clothes? And for families with kids, are there lots of abandoned toys scattered throughout the house?

Did you know that a person wastes two years of his or her life searching for misplaced “stuff”? Think about that. What could you do with all that that time if you weren’t wasting it?

Looking up the definition of clutter, you find rough synonyms like “disorder,” “confused,” and “untidy.” Clutter has a visceral effect. You can actually feel it: ponderously heavy, swirling, negative thoughts chasing one another in your head; a lack of clarity of thought; a sense that you’re overwhelmed by something you cannot overcome. You know the feeling, because everyone today has experienced the draining effects of clutter in some form.

Clutter itself is manifested in three forms: physical, electronic and emotional.

Most people are familiar with the physical form clutter can take: stacks of paper and publications, clothes you haven’t worn, and so on.

Electronic clutter typically often arrives in the form of emails and voicemail. In this technological world, we are experiencing increasing amounts of electronic clutter. Mix these with the constant distractions coming from all quarters in our fast-paced society, and it’s no wonder that so many people are constantly being overwhelmed. There is so much going on in our lives already, and electronic clutter can create or add to real chaos.

Last, consider emotional clutter. In general, emotional clutter is an accumulation of human communications and unfinished business left open with no resolution, Emotional clutter is negative thinking or negative self-talk that moves us away from what we desire in life. It depletes our energy. It takes away our clarity and focus. One client said this kind of clutter felt as if it everything she was thinking was swirling around in her head. Another client said this clutter was like bricks piled on one’s shoulders. You get the picture.

Clutter literally takes up the physical and emotional space that blocks the things you do want in your life. So when you de-clutter, you are literally opening the space for something you want or desire to come into your life.

For example, if you have clothes hanging in your closet or piled in your dresser drawers that you don’t wear, they take up a lot of space. There is no more room available to put the clothes you do want to wear in a drawer or in your closet. Gather up and remove the cluttered clothes you’re not wearing (you can always donate them) and open that space to accommodate what you currently desire.

An example of emotional clutter is negative self-talk, our internal dialogue or chatter. Is your current train of thought going to take you closer to reaching your goals, or will it move you further away from what you truly desire? If it’s the latter, it’s depleting and it’s clutter—and you don’t want to fill your head with what you don’t want.

Once you begin physical or mental de-cluttering, notice how much better you are feeling, as you gain clarity and focus, and as you begin to feel lighter and have an improved attitude and mood. Try it. It works.

Here are some useful tips to get you started in the right direction:

Choose a physical or mental area of clutter to address.

Commit to yourself or to an accountability partner (a coach, a friend or a partner) a goal to de-clutter for 15 minutes a day.

Start with something small like a desk drawer, a night table or a medicine cabinet (physical); delete or respond to emails (electronic); or close a situation where you’ve left an open-ended or dangling communication (emotional).

Put on music or the TV and have fun with it while you work on your goal each day. This commitment is not punitive!

Summer Vacation: A Chance to Discover Your Real Life Purpose

 

Summertime has always been a popular time of the year for families to take a vacation because the kids are home from school. It’s a great time to kick back and relax.

I often encourage clients to make sure they take some “self” time while they are away from home. There will be plenty of time to be with your family and taking some self-time helps you to recharge. Remember, to be there for everyone else, we have to take great care of ourselves.

So whether you are going to the beach, the mountains or anywhere else, it is a perfect place to reflect on half the year that has gone by and think about what you would like to make happen for the second half of the year. Life is more than setting and accomplishing goals and doing, doing, doing! What about just “being?”

To get you started, here is a key question to ask:

What do you want? What do you really, really want?

Some people answer “to be happy” or to be “the best they can be,” but what does that really mean? How do you get there?

Others say they have no idea. To that response, I sometimes interject, well, if you had to guess what would it be?Some say they have never given that notion much if any thought, but they concluded they did not feel as fulfilled as they would like.

No matter where you fall on the continuum or what stage of life you are at exploring at the moment, discovering your life purpose can answer many of those unanswered questions you have about your life.

For example, when I am working with baby boomers, the process of helping them discover what they want and who they are is so exciting. Their faces light up with grins from ear to ear radiating child-like joy.

Many boomers went directly from school to work to mortgages, kids, car payments and other responsibilities and never really thought about what they wanted for themselves or what their true passion is. Being out in nature, away from all our electronic devices can give us the time and opportunity we need to reflect.

The first step on our journey to our calling in life is to listen to our internal voices, our self-talk. During the year we rarely have the luxury of a quiet moment to hear it…and to not push it away because we have to do this errand, or be on the go and “doing” something, or because some of our self-talk is saying, “Are you kidding? You have enough already, you don’t have to look deeper…stay the same, stay with the status quo…”

So many of us do this because that’s what our ego wants us to do.

Take that quiet time you’ve set aside and listen to your inner voice and to your gut, your intuition. The symptoms and anxieties that have haunted you will fade into the background and be replaced by opportunities and possibilities, both big and small.

You owe this to yourself. Everyone in your life will benefit, because they will have more of who you are. You will be opening the door to what you’re truly here to do and to what you truly want.