Tag Archives: clutter challenge

What Is Your Clutter Telling You?

Clutter is information. It has a story to tell if you can get past its negative, dscn0013overwhelming energy. When I walk into a client’s home or office I look for the story that the clutter tells. Some of the stories go like this:

  • I’ve got too much on my plate to have the time to attend to my space.
  • I have too much stuff.
  • I shop for entertainment, and to relieve stress.
  • I got behind in cleaning up and doing daily maintenance tasks, and could not catch up.
  • My job takes everything out of me, and I don’t have the energy to do daily maintenance tasks like putting things away, cleaning up after myself, sorting mail.
  • I’ve had a very stressful week.
  • I’ve been through a very tough time in my life (e.g. caregiving responsibilities for parents, deaths of family members, health problems, etc.) and couldn’t hold everything together.
  • I really have no idea how to set up and maintain an organized space.
  • I am sentimental. It’s hard for me to get rid of anything that reminds me of a special person or time in my life.
  • I have ADHD and have never been organized. I can’t make myself clean up after myself, put clothes away regularly and go through my mail.
  • I need more help from others, particularly those who contribute to the mess.
  • I spend very little time at home, and when I’m home I just drop things and plop on the sofa.
  • I have no clue how to manage all the paper pouring into my house.
  • I have too many responsibilities and need support from others to maintain an organized home.
  • I am overwhelmed by how much clutter there is and don’t know how to start clearing.

Do you identify with any of those stories? You cannot address a clutter problem if you aren’t conscious of the story it tells. For example, if your story is, “I shop for entertainment and to relieve stress,” that awareness makes it possible for you to focus on finding other ways to reduce stress and have fun.

If your story is that you have ADHD and have never been organized, you can research what works for people with ADHD to get clearing done and sustain order in their space.

If the truth is you have a family of five and are the only one who is trying to create and sustain order, you can acknowledge the impossibility of doing that successfully and negotiate with family members for their participation in tasks that keep your house organized and feeling good.

Instead of beating yourself up because there is clutter or avoiding it, look at it with curiosity. Tease out the story it tells. Then take steps to change the story.

Stories are much more interesting than piles of clutter. Focusing on your story can motivate you to make take action. Be aware that many of the above stories, particularly those that involve large quantities of clutter, can only be changed with some type of outside help. Hire a professional organizer or enlist supportive friends and/or family members to help you change your story.

Making Clutter Clearing Happen: The Value of Support

2006 pictures 034There are some people who cannot get clutter clearing done without support, without help from someone else. Perhaps you’re wondering if you are one of those people. You may be someone who needs support if:

  • you have ADD,
  • you have an enormous, overwhelming clutter challenge,
  • despite the the best of intentions you cannot get started clearing,
  • you don’t know where to start,
  • you don’t know how to start,
  • you repeatedly make excuses for not getting started,
  • you start, but cannot sustain the effort,
  • you have too many other responsibilities that make doing clutter clearing impossible,
  • you have physical limitations that make clutter clearing alone impossible,
  • you are very sentimental and have great difficulty parting with things,
  • you are afraid you’ll make a mistake when clutter clearing, and your fear shuts you down, or
  • clutter clearing stirs up uncomfortable feelings like fear, sadness, and anxiety that block you from engaging in clutter clearing.

Following is a note I received from a faithful follower of my work who experienced the benefit of support. With her permission I’m sharing this note with you.

“Just wanted to tell you that I made some real inroads (with clutter clearing) this year for the first time in forever.  All it took was some help. My 19 year old son could tell I was overwhelmed with the clutter, getting ready for the holidays, and sat down with me and went through the bags and boxes that were littering the downstairs. It was so nice to have someone actually do this with me. So many times I ask for help and it doesn’t pan out. Also, like you said, “Big items first!” I got rid of a piece of  exercise equipment, a clock, an old vacuum cleaner. I cleared up boxes of magazines, and went through bags that were in the closets. It goes a lot faster when you have someone helping and prodding you to do just one more bag. Also, because it looks so nice (and he has some ownership in it now), it’s stayed that way.”

Support helped this woman by:

  • providing her with company when facing an overwhelming challenge, transforming the clutter clearing process from an onerous task to more of a social event,
  • making the process go much faster,
  • having help to move items that were being donated or moved to other locations,
  • having encouragement to keep going, and
  • making clutter clearing a joint effort with joint ownership.

Support for clutter clearing can be the difference between being stuck living in overwhelm, self-judgment and stress or moving forward in a life with purpose, pleasure and peace. What support do you need to clear a path to the environment and the life you really want?