A cluttered life may not be overrun with things.
A cluttered life may not even look "messy" to others.
But it may feel out of sorts to you.
To someone looking in, the imaginary burden of things slightly cluttered or left undone can go unnoticed, but to you it's like a weight that's hanging when you look at packed shelves in the garage or see a bag of donation items sitting in the corner of your room. It's an almost undetectable burden that weighs you down when you see things unfinished or run out of time at the end of the day for the tasks you really didn't want to put off again.
Interestingly enough, you're the only one who feels this load. You notice it, you feel the pull but you're not quite sure how to make it lighter. While your life is quite amazing, you know it could be a teensy bit better if you could get a handle on those few things that seem disorganized.
Amid the busyness of life and the transitional phases of things like career changes, starting a family and the general stresses of adulthood, simplifying seems to take the back burner.
Unfortunately, as organized and tighty as we think we may be, it's the undetectable-to-the-outside-world stuff that often leads us to feel like we're living cluttered lives.
If you had more time, you'd get rid of those weighty loads. You'd do it without hesitation if you knew how to tackle them or even properly identify them.
While the physical stuff is oftentimes to blame for clutter, it can be the non-physical stuff that is just as much if not more of the culprit.
According to Psychology Today:
"Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren't necessary or important... Clutter makes us anxious because we're never sure what it's going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile."
Starting something but not finishing it creates annoying emotional clutter.
There's actually an upside to this dilemma. It means you've started plenty of projects and probably already enjoy simplifying and cleaning out parts of your house.
The issue here isn't a lack of motivation. You my friend, might just be one of the most motivated when it comes to simplifying. The underlying problem may be in the follow through.
Example: You decide to go through your closet and weed out the shirts you're not so keen on anymore. You enjoyed the Sunday afternoon purge and after you finished the job, you added the said items into a brown bag that you planned to take to Goodwill.
The problem with this very simple but all too familiar scenario is that clean-closet-on-Sunday-afternoon-from-2-4pm all of a sudden became a two-month long journey where that bag sat and starred back at you like a sarcastic reminder of failure instead of success.
And reminders like that just ain't fun.
So here's a little suggestion. Add the purge portion of your project AND the drop-off of those goods into your calendar. Create an actual event for yourself and see if it helps. Add it like you would your hair appointment or trip to the doctor.
It's extremely simple but it might just help you with the follow through.
This doesn't just apply to much needed errands either. You can try this with larger organizational jobs in your house. Sometimes we get in way over our heads with something like cleaning out the garage. So schedule the job on your calendar and in increments. That way you have a time set aside for the job and you won't burn out after spending 5 hours on a Saturday trying to tackle it. While getting in and getting it all done can work for some people, it won't work for everyone and may lead to good ole' fashioned burnout. YIKES.
If you create an appointment to help complete tasks, it increases the chances that you'll get a reminder, it helps you plan around that thing and you'll be more apt to want to check it off your list.
The notably efficient and organized Stephen R. Covey explained it like this:
"The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule but to schedule your priorities."
Remember, it's not that you don't want to simplify. It's just figuring out how to create some accountability so that you complete the task. And lemme tell you, I'm still working on this. It's too easy for any of us to start something and get pulled in a handful of directions. (If you have a toddler, you know exactly what I mean.)
Digital clutter i.e. too many emails and social media updates create feelings of overwhelm and ANXIETY
Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist shares 25 areas where you can minimize clutter. The trusty email inbox made the number one spot on Becker's list.
Bottom line? Virtual clutter is still clutter and we've got it bombarding us all day everyday.
Example: You, like the rest of the world's population like to check your Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram feeds. It's fun to see updates from old friends and watch videos of darling dogs and cats. The downside to the never ending social feeds and updates, however, are feelings of despair, comparison and the fear of missing out. YIKES again.
According to Anxiety.org, online social media addictions can lead to rising levels of anxiety among other not-so-great feelings.
"Feelings of self-consciousness or a need for perfectionism can arise, which often manifests itself into social anxiety..."
And our goal here is to prevent feelings of overwhelm. Because nobody enjoys feeling like this:
For those of you with a Type-A personality - anxiety is probably already your frenemy. Most perfectionists feel like they're never quite perfect enough. Combine this with constant reminders of things in and around your house that you've wanted to get rid of, clean up or get out and it's a recipe for never-ending feelings of anxiousness.
According to an article from Daily Trends, social media anxiety disorder is a real thing that a lot of women in particular experience as a result of too much social media clutter filling up their lives. The article goes on to provide this solution:
"Stress caused by basic social media use is a lot easier to handle, as long as you are willing to alter your way of thinking. “I can spend hours browsing Pinterest, and sometimes that site convinces me that anyone can embark on any DIY project with fabulous results,” wrote Jenna Andersen, creator and editor of PinterestFail, a funny blog that encourages Pinteresters to have a healthy laugh at their mistakes. “This hasn’t been my experience, and I’m guessing it’s happened to [others] as well.”'
In a nutshell, physical and digital clutter can make us feel less than productive and that we're somehow a hot, disorganized mess EVEN THOUGH WE'RE NOT. Even though we're freaking amazing. Even though we're so much better off than we think we may be if we find ourselves comparing our first-attempt at a DIY project to the perfectly curated Pins on Pinterest.
Your inbox isn't going to halt on sending you notifications and your social media feeds aren't going to stop scrolling for you.
So now is the time to simplify things.
Now, more than ever, you need to take your own world by your own hands and figure out what deserves your attention and angst and what simply does not.
Try scheduling time to tackle your next project (in increments) and when it comes to the digital clutter - log off, walk away or go outside.
Whether you're a stay-at-home mom, working professional and/or an adult with dreams, you've got bigger fish to fry than to worry about these types of things cluttering your life.
Good luck - let me know how it goes in the comments section!
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