Clutter is much more than the physical clutter that we see – in fact, physical clutter is just the tip of the iceberg. The thing is, clutter, visible or not, takes a toll on our lives. Whether we realise it or not, it makes us waste time and money, but it also affects our well-being. Let’s look at the 5 most common types of clutter and what you can do to deal with them.
Physical clutter is all the stuff in your home or workspace that you don’t use, that you don’t need, and that you don’t love. Stuff that doesn’t have a proper home, that doesn’t fit into your cupboards and cabinets and that ends up in piles on the floor or your countertops.
Stuff you know you own but that you can’t find when you need it. Or that you’ve completely forgotten about because it’s buried at the back of a closet.
Stuff that you may move into a self-storage box, paying a few hundred dollars for storage fees every month, and end up forgetting about and never using again.
How To Deal With Physical Clutter
- Research disposal options that resonate with you before even starting the physical decluttering process. Knowing that there are options available to dispose of your unwanted stuff can be a huge source of motivation to let go. Start with Get Organised & Beyond free directory listing more than 50 avenues in Singapore to donate, recycle, sell, or even swap your pre-loved stuff.
- Find a decluttering approach that works for you. There’s no-one size fits all approach when it comes to decluttering and there are other options than the KonMari method out there.
Digital clutter is any unused and unorganised information you store on a digital device, whether it’s your computer, phone, or tablet: several-month-old unopened emails, spam emails, subscriptions to newsletters you never read – and maybe never subscribed to in the first place – duplicate files, photos that haven’t been downloaded and organised, unused apps, old accounts… Stuff that you never really refer back to but that’s taking space on your device and that ultimately may affect its performance.
It’s also all the time you spend wandering aimlessly on social media and checking all the notifications you keep receiving and that prevents you from staying focused on the task at hand.
How To Deal with Digital Clutter
- Set up a system to deal with each type of information you handle. This is, as an example, the system I’ve developed to deal with my digital photos. Once you’re happy with the systems you’ve set up, it’ll be easier to tackle your backlog.
- Put time aside each day, week, and month to deal with the flow of information. It’s easier to do a little bit on a regular basis than wait for a crisis and have to spend a huge amount of time frantically looking for something you need.
- Check these 7 strategies to help you break your technology addiction.
At a time when being busy is worn as a badge of honour, schedule clutter is all those meetings and appointments you know you have no time for but do out of obligation because you don’t dare to confront your boss or don’t want to offend your friend. Or on the other hand, tasks that you enthusiastically take on without assessing your workload for that day and that turn out to completely derail your original plan or miss an important deadline.
It’s all those activities and tasks that don’t necessarily help you achieve any of your goals but that you never questioned and do out of habit.
It’s all those tasks you tackle on a random basis, more based on your mood of the moment than based on real priorities only to realise when the day draws to a close that you haven’t completed your most important task for the day preventing you from going back home to your family on time.
How to Deal With Schedule Clutter
- Be clear on your goals in the key areas of your life being family, health, career, etc. It will help you decide if a meeting is worth attending or an activity worth doing.
- Build a standard weekly schedule where everything that’s important to you, whether it’s driven by a professional target or by a personal aspiration, has a dedicated timeslot.
- Use Julie Morgenstern 4D’s concept on those days when you’ve got too much to do.
Social clutter is all those old friends you have nothing in common with anymore. And all those online “friends” you got acquainted with on social media who spread out negativity or post offensive comments that go against your values. They not only suck up your time, they also sap your energy, preventing you from dedicating your attention to the important people in your life – that includes YOU!
How to Deal With Social Clutter
- Purge your online social network by unfriending, or at least unfollowing, those people, and leaving or unfollowing those groups you belong to.
- For your “real-life friends”, well, you probably know as much as I do what you need to do, right?
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL CLUTTER
Mental and emotional clutter are all those negative thoughts that you repeat to yourself in your head, consciously or subconsciously, and that prevent you from living the life you aspire to.
Mental and emotional clutter can translate into some if not all of the 4 types of clutter listed above (physical clutter, digital clutter, schedule clutter, and social clutter) due to self-doubt, procrastination, perfectionism, over-commitment, fear of failure, or even of success, unclear goals and priorities, etc.
How To Deal With Mental And Emotional Clutter
- This is obviously a broad topic, that goes beyond my scope and capabilities as a professional organiser and you should, first and foremost, seek professional counselling or psychological help if you feel stuck.
- With all that’s said, letting go of the other types of clutter in your life can help you unravel your mental and emotional clutter as many of my clients have experienced.
Where should you start if you face several of these types of clutter? Well, there’s no right or wrong place to start. The most important is to start as it will have ripple effects on other areas of your life. If you decide to engage help, look at someone who can help you look beyond the “stuff”. Be prepared for the process to bring in some level of discomfort. Why? Because you’re going to have to face your stuff and make decisions that you may have been postponing for years. In the process, you’re going to have to let go of the past and maybe of some hopes for the future, but by doing so, you’re going to bring clarity into your life and move forward. And the good news is that the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
I can help you set up systems to deal with your physical, digital, and schedule clutter. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help!