Clutter: To run in disorder; to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness
Chaos: A state of utter confusion; a confused mass or mixture
Do you ever feel there is just too much stuff in your life?
Do you feel disorganized or overwhelmed or that you could be more effective than you are?
Well, you are not alone.
Clutter creates chaos, which leads to confusion.
It is amazing what people will live in or create. In the TV show Designed to Sell, a real estate expert reviews properties to maximize their selling potential. Each room in the house is usually floor-to-ceiling-full of stuff. At first, individuals protect their clutter because there could be something of value in there, even though they have ignored it for several years.
In every case, the expert recommends “de-cluttering.” Once the chaos is reduced, the homes take on new appeal.
Why don’t we tidy up—whether or not we are selling our home? Maybe we don’t acknowledge that clutter reduces our enjoyment and effectiveness.
You might argue that clutter does not have a negative effect on you, but let me challenge that thought.
Imagine you are going to see your doctor, dentist, or medical specialist. His office is clean but cluttered with files and instruments that reflect a state of general chaos. What is your confidence level for that professional? Not very high, right?
Or you are flying away on vacation and notice the pilot is dressed shabbily and his papers are in disarray when he pulls them from his case. Do you feel confident he will be a good pilot?
In the outside world, we view order as a sign of competence, so we need to establish this expectation of order in ourselves. Being organized will make you feel more together and capable.
Now comes your challenge. How can you de-clutter your life?
These examples are from the past several years of my life.
- After 3 truckloads of stuff when we moved the CRG office it was apparent we needed to reduce our clutter. We needed to get rid of old chairs, computer parts that were stuffed in drawers, files with no current purpose, and old inventory that would never be sold.
- During a recent vacation, when purchasing new attire, I recalled the words of an organizational specialist. His de-clutter rule is do not bring anything into your living space until you remove something first.
- There will be some exceptions, but what about all those clothes you have not worn for years? Others in need could use them more than your closet.
- If you have a storage unit or area, when was the last time you looked at what is in there? If something does not have a current application, get rid of it! Garages can quickly become dump sites.
- We cut down two trees a few summers ago that were overgrown and cluttering our yard. The new openness and space is refreshing.
- Let go of the past to allow the future into your life. Several years ago, I had placed some of my college t-shirts and jackets in storage. I have had to struggle with myself to let them go. Quite frankly, when I am 80, who will want them? I never looked at them unless I was re-loading storage boxes.
- I am working on getting Brenda, my wife, to let go of some of her teaching files. I have yet to be successful; somehow she feels she might in future need her prep-work for Grades 3 to 7 from 12 years ago. Can anyone relate?
- How about magazines that are 6 months old or older? Create a file for storing pages of articles you will need for a project—otherwise get rid of them. In the online world, storage is virtual so we don’t need to hang onto stuff that is available on the net.
- Do you have old books about topics where new information now makes the books’ information outdated, like computers or health? Do you really need a 10-year-old book on Windows 98?
- Some of the best examples are the craft projects you started a decade ago and that remain untouched. Dump them; they clutter your mind as well as your space.
- Look at some people’s cars! How do they even get into them with all the stuff growing inside?
- What’s the other side of the chaos coin? Remove all obligations or responsibilities that contribute to confusion or mental clutter for you.
So what about you?
Do you have personal or work space that needs to be de-cluttered?
Have you cluttered your life with more obligations than you feel comfortable handling?
I have learned how to say No to multiple volunteer opportunities so I can focus on a couple and do them well—without contributing overwhelming stress to my life.
Here is our specific recommendation: Complete CRG’s Stress Indicator and Health Planner (SIHP) to better establish your stress levels in five critical areas in your life:
- Personal Distress,
- Interpersonal Stress Assessment,
- Wellness Assessment.
- Time-Stress Assessment, and
- Occupational Stress Assessment
Though it won’t tell you what you need to de-clutter, the Stress Indicator and Health Planner (SIHP) will confirm your level of stress and where chaos is contributing to your stress levels.
The following CRG Resources will provide additional information to help you know yourself and feel comfortable with the person you are.
Personal Style Indicator (PSI)
Personal Style Indicator
Self-Worth Inventory (SWI)
Values Preference Indicator (VPI)
Values Preference Indicator
Do not underestimate the benefit of de-cluttering and reducing the chaos in your life. When I loaded two bags full of my old clothes and took a trunk-full of odds and ends from our garage, I was euphoric! Don’t delay. Start right now!
Until next time, keep Living On Purpose!