A clean house or office, free from clutter and perfectly organized—isn’t that the dream?
There are thousands of resources out there with techniques for organizing, tips for decluttering, or a process for cleaning your closet. The list runs the gamut from “150+ Things to Throw Away Today” to “30 Ways to Instantly Declutter” and “The 4-Pile Strategy for Simplifying Your Closet.”
I have another idea: clutter is a mindset.
Organizing your Tupperware is nice; eliminating most of it might be better, but neither are really the root cause. It’s like changing your clothes because you cut yourself and they get bloody, but not bothering to bandage the bleeding.
You’ll just end up changing again...
Fixing the peripheral side-effects without tackling the real issue.
Sure, we all accumulate things. Just because you do too does not mean there is some deep-rooted hoarder tendency inside you that needs to be squelched. Or that you need to become a minimalist.
I think of it like this instead: I know that I want to live with integrity. Sometimes life makes that challenging. So, I practice thinking and acting with integrity with my personal values and it becomes easier; it becomes a lifestyle. (I wrote more about that here: Speaking Your Truth Even When it is Uncomfortable).
With practice, eliminating the chaos that comes with keeping too much can become more of a lifestyle and less of a springtime chore.
It becomes more natural the more you implement it.
Clutter can be similar. The things will naturally come and we’ll all be tempted to hold on to them. The dirt will naturally accumulate (as it does), and we’ll dislike dealing with it.
If you live in a small space, you don’t have room to hold on to things so you don’t. When clutter is not an option it’s easier to eliminate. What if you had that mindset no matter how much space you actually have? It’ll be a practice, a decision to make with every t-shirt that fits just slightly wrong, every household manual that you might need some day and every cord that you somehow have two of.
It does get easier with time.
And of course, the more often you clean or organize, the less you have to do each time—funny how that works.
I am not advocating constant cleaning! That is not the practice. It also sounds somewhat miserable.
As Henry Ford said:
"Improved productivity means less human sweat, not more.”
Eliminating clutter and practicing a lifestyle where you don’t hold on to things will not only make you sweat less, declutter less, and clean less—it will give you back space in your life!
Once you heal that metaphorical blood flow instead of just changing your clothes, you save all that time and energy spent cleaning up.
“For years I managed stuff. I didn’t think of it as managing, but it really was this complicated system of managing things and keeping it put away and sorted. There were boxes, labeled, and full of stuff that I might someday need. There were memory boxes, toys, books, kitchen gadgets, tools, gardening stuff and on and on and on. I didn’t think of it as clutter. But it was.... Instead of spending time on things I loved I was spending time, on what I thought was most important, managing the clutter so that everything was ordered.”
Again, just because this mom found spaciousness and liberation in her choice to purge her belongings doesn't mean you have to take up the practice of minimalism. What I'm advocating is creating more space in your life according to your personal values and what makes you feel at home.
This same idea of creating spaciousness in your life is what I wrote about in an earlier blog, The Spaces in Between Are Just as Important:
“So often we spend our days rushing through space, whether that’s hurtling through traffic from point A to B in our car or hastening to complete the next bullet point on our never-ending to-do list….Whether it is a moment of pause between to-do list items, dawn breaking before the day starts, the rests between notes of music, or the transitions between yoga poses—the pauses are there. Waiting for us to notice. Not to fill, but to occupy and enjoy.”
We discuss emotional intelligence, communication between couples and strong parenting skills a lot here. The discussions almost always lead us to two things: self-awareness and practice. Cleaning your house is no different.