When you don’t have a lot of stuff, you’re clutter free… right? To be honest, clutter free living isn’t what you think it is. We have a tendency to automatically think these two go together, but they are not the same.
Less stuff for the sake of less stuff—is useless to us.
Clutter Made Itself At Home
From a very early age, I would spend countless hours trying to make my bedroom clutter free— but my room would always end up the same way after just a few days. Clothes were all over the floor to the point you couldn’t see the floor because it was just a sea of clothes! My mom didn’t even know what to think. She would often say to me, “I don’t know how you can find anything in that mess.” Ironically, I always knew where everything was, but it looked like a natural disaster had hit my room. No matter what I did, clutter made itself at home—in my space.
Clutter Free Living Isn’t What You Think
Maybe you feel that way, too where you think to yourself, why do I even try when things just go back to the way that they are? It just keeps growing and there is no end to it in sight.
Then maybe you start thinking things like—”I’ll just become a minimalist.” and “Why do I keep picking up these legos when they just end up all over the place anyway.” It then progresses to, “I’ll just toss them out and then my space won’t be so messy and the kids can just play with the empty boxes that I get when I order online from Amazon!”
The problem is that we think that if we can just get rid of all of the excess stuff and find that magic solution to organization then our lives would be so much better.
But, you don’t have to become a minimalist to live a clutter free life. In fact, if you are a minimalist, it often means that you’re just efficient at keeping things from piling up in your home—only.
Clutter Free Living—Is What You Think
To really embrace a clutter free life that sticks, one where you feel more at peace and you truly enjoy it—you have to change your mind.
What you think influences how you feel and how you feel determines what you do.
The Perfect Next Step
In college, I worked as an assistant to an admissions counselor. I really loved my job and I thought that after I graduated, the perfect next step for me was to become an admissions counselor. Who wouldn’t want to do that? They got to travel and meet new people. I wanted to do that. There were a couple of openings in our office and I decided to apply.
I Thought I Had Everything I Needed
Now, in my young adult mind, I thought that I had everything that I needed. I had the experience because I was already basically doing everything that the admissions counselors were doing. There was only one thing that I thought was missing. All of the counselors had a leather briefcase. I thought that if I just had a leather briefcase, then the interviewers would know that I was serious about this position, it would help me to look professional, and it would be really useful for me for the job. So what did I do? I went to the mall and walked right into Wilson’s Leather Store and spent $250 on a leather satchel briefcase. The problem was, that I didn’t have the money so I paid with a credit card. To make matters worse, I didn’t even get the job.
What you think, influences how you feel, and how you feel—determines what you do.
What ARE You Thinking?
It’s not easy or natural for us to think introspection is a key to discovering why clutter continues to make its home in our lives. But, once we start to take a deeper look at the what we really are thinking and believing we can then start to make changes that are lasting. Remember, what you think influences how you feel and how you feel determines what you do—or don’t do!
What do we think when it comes to clutter?
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- Two words: for now.
For now is that moment when you’re getting ready in the morning and you try on several different outfits, shirts, and you take them off and they land in a pile on the chair in your bedroom. At that moment you’re thinking, I need to find an outfit for today, I’m just going to leave it here—for now. Then, I’ll take it later. But in reality, the later doesn’t usually happen unless you intentionally make a point to take care of it later. It’s really an example of what author Kathi Lipp has said, “A pile of paper represents a pile of decisions not made.
- “What if.
What if shows up in the, “What if I just had this or did this, then…I would be happier.” Or it’s the “If I get rid of this, I might need it later.”
- Stuff makes relationships more meaningful.
I see this more often with men than I do with women, but regardless this still has some application. The premise is that when a man doesn’t feel like he has spent much time with his children—either because he works long hours or his job takes him away from the home—he ends up buying things for his children to make up for it.
- Two words: for now.
Clutter Is Connected to Your Feelings
Sometimes it’s really hard to pinpoint the connection we have with stuff that is deeply rooted in our emotions and how we feel. Kathi Lipp also gives some more examples of what we feel related to clutter:
What it sounds like: “I bought these pair of shoes for $75 because I had to have them, but they make my feet bleed. I can’t get rid of them because I spent so much money on them!”
- Fear of Missing Out
What it sounds like: “I need this new cute outfit for….otherwise I won’t fit it.
What it sounds like: “My mom gave me something that I really don’t like, but I can’t get rid of what my mom gave me because—well, it was from my mom! I might hurt her feelings.”
- How Your Home Feels
The tone of your home is directly related to clutter. It has an impact on you and how you feel. It also sets a tone in your home that can bring about chaos and cause limitations.
My son was about 2 years old and I had gotten to the point where I was tired of picking up his little toy John Deere Tractors. For some moms it’s legos that break the last straw. I was tired so I just stopped picking up his toys. The funny thing is…my son stopped playing with them too. One day I hunkered down and cleaned up his play area. I organized all of his tractors in a row and you know what? When my son woke up from his nap, the first thing that he went to was his toys. Clutter—it’s overwhelming even to our children!
Clutter Is A Symptom of What You Think
In the end clutter costs us space, time, energy, money, and ultimately what matters most to us. You may have thought that clutter free living is just figuring out how to get rid of stuff and organize better but the key is really understanding what you think about clutter. If you struggle with clutter, remember that it is a symptom. What you thinking and feeling is the deeper root and cause. If you take the time to determine what you are thinking—you’re one step closer to living clutter free.
What is an area of clutter that you have a tendency to struggle with?