Clutter is one of those unavoidable things in life that we all face. Clutter, in all its forms, can creep up on you. One day everything seems easy and life is simple. The next, there’s all sorts of junk – physical, mental, and emotional – getting in your way, weighing you down, and adding stress to your life.
Clutter is often not the problem – it’s a symptom of some other, underlying issue that’s affecting your life.
Maybe anxiety and indecision keep you from finishing tasks, leaving you with piles of unfinished projects and unfulfilled promises. Perhaps a desire to hold on to the past prevents you from discarding old and unused items taking up space in your basement, attic, or closets. Hoarding, of course, is an extreme variant of clutter and often a sign of mental illness that causes individuals to collect items of no real value or use and stockpile them in their homes until they physically can’t move about because rooms and hallways are filled to overflowing.
Clutter can even be people. Are you someone who can’t let go of relationships, no matter how toxic, unproductive, or even damaging they may be? Do you maintain contact with individuals even though you no longer associate with them? All of this is clutter, too.
Clutter occurs for a wide range of reasons – from simple laziness to something more serious. As a result, decluttering can be a daunting task, difficult for many to undertake. The trick is to start small. For example, you can take just ten minutes a day to work on a small area or project, such as a shelf in your basement or files on your laptop.
For decluttering to really work, though, you need to first believe that filling your life with stuff will never actually make you happy or bring true fulfillment. Once you embrace that fundamental tenet, you’ll be on your way to a simpler, more streamlined – and more fulfilling –life. Life is not about what you have. It’s about what you do.
Journaling is a great way to begin the decluttering process.
Remember that ten minutes you’re going to use to un-clutter your home? Well, take another ten minutes to engage in some journaling about the clutter that’s affecting you. You can use it to uncover the real reasons you hold onto stuff long beyond its usefulness. Or why you maintain relationships even though that person, or persons, cause you pain, make you unhappy, or prevent you from living your life the way you’d like to. Use therapeutic journaling to decide what you want to do with things and then take action.
Mental or emotional clutter may be a little harder to deal with, but journaling can help you tackle that as well. Here’s a tip for organizing those kinds of thoughts and putting them down on paper: think about the various areas or periods in your life as shelves in a bookcase. Each phase of your life is a book – maybe an on-again-off-again relationship with a significant other has become a well-thumbed volume that needs to finally be tossed. Go through your internal bookcase, shelf-by-shelf, book-by-book, and decide what you’d like to keep and what’s no longer appropriate or of interest that can be disposed of.
Use your 10-minute journaling session as a decluttering process where you pick something of a material nature (all those college mementos) or human nature (that annoying coworker who keeps you from getting stuff done) and work on it. Do some free writing to uncover thoughts and ideas you may not have considered previously and to understand what is really going on. It’s easy to take one thing at a time – a closet or a relationship -- to declutter your life, get rid of unnecessary physical and mental junk and begin living a happier, less-stressful life.
If you want to learn how to declutter your life and other life challenges, please download the free eBook titled The Journaling Guide to Manage The Stress and Strains of Life.