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Mental declutter

Sometimes life and work gets messy. Physical things as well as our thoughts can get tangled in a big mess at times and (if you’re anything like me) it can feel quite overwhelming. The thing about physical or mental clutter is that it becomes this weird padding or cushion between us and the core of what we’re dealing with. A big mountain of things and feelings can help ‘hold things at bay’, but it will also often prevent you from moving forward.

Think about it. You come into work and your desk is full of piles of work, dirty dishes and other things. It will probably take you a while to find where to start your day and find a clean cup for your coffee. Then your boss comes by and asks for a certain document. You know roughly what pile it’s in, but it will take a bit of digging to find it.

Or how about your wardrobe being spread out across the floor in your room and you get invited to a party last minute. You know the outfit you want to wear, but it takes ages to dig through your piles to find it, only to find that your friend borrowed and spilled red wine on it without telling you.

It’s not about efficiency here. It’s about focussing your energy on the things that matter by having a clean and calm mind. Everyone will have a slightly different view on what ‘clean and tidy’ means, and I’m not here to discuss definitions.

Over the years I’ve coached many, many clients and they often come to me with a certain level of clutter in both their physical and emotional life. Much like I had when I started going to my coach years ago. It’s human. But for most of us it does not give us the results in life we’re after and that’s when it becomes something you should consider addressing.

The most common objections I hear from people:

  1. It’s an organised mess. Very often this is a defence mechanism when we feel like other people are likely to judge us. It has nothing to do with judgement though. No-one else really cares what you do in your space and life, unless it impacts them directly. More importably: hand on heart – do you feel overwhelmed, tired or like you’re wasting energy on things being messy in your space and mind?
  2. I’m not a control freak. Some people become obsessive about keeping things clean and in order and this can be an un-resourceful way of dealing with things. If you find that you can’t function without things being in exact order, you might want to talk someone about it, as it’s likely a coping mechanism for something else. If on the other hand your space and mind is cluttered, you don’t need to go to extremes to give yourself more space for the things that matter to you. There is a difference between being a declutter perfectionist and having some peace of mind.
  3. It’s just who I am or I’m creative, I don’t like things to be too in line. That’s great! If your life is fully functional and you’re getting the results you want in life there is no need to change it! If there is a part of you realising that some things could be easier, you might want to consider a declutter.

As a test, I’d like to set you a challenge. Take a small part of your house that’s currently a bit of a mess. Maybe that kitchen drawer, bathroom cabinet, your sock drawer or whatever else feels like a manageable task, but still something you’ve been putting off. Set a time to go through it and a) throw away anything broken/expired b) give away anything functional that you don’t need anymore (maybe to charity) and c) tidy up the things that remain. How did that feel?

In a world where we are bombarded with impressions, advertising, options and stuff we need to stay in charge (not necessarily in control) over what we allow in and what we clean out. Start small and see how you go!