How To Move From Clutter To Clarity

To move from clutter to clarity, start by decluttering, then commit to shopping less and buying only those things that are useful to you right now. You can have more money, more time, more space, and more clarity by having less.

Title Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Paths Obscured

Over the years, I have worked with a number of clients whose dreams were derailed due to their lack of organization. One wanted to search for a new job but she couldn’t see past her messy office and kids’ toys strewn about. Although she had graduated from school years before, she confessed she still had college books and papers stacked in boxes. Boxes she never opened.

Another client wanted to start her own business and had a great idea for an organization to help struggling students. Unfortunately, she frequently struggled to pay her bills – not for lack of funds but for lack of a system. She mislaid things – including bills that were due – and came close to having her utilities cut off more than once.

Others were so stuck in place because of the clutter in their lives that they didn’t even have concrete goals. In all these cases, the first task we took on together was to help them become “well-enough organized”, able to find what they needed when they needed it. Which, by the way, necessitated getting rid of a bunch of clutter. To be able to focus on a BIG goal, they all needed to move from clutter to clarity.

from clutter to clarity
Photo by RF._.studio

Have More By Having Less

I don’t think many people would argue with the statement that most of us want more money and more time; time and money to do more of what we love and to make a difference in the world.

In addition to time and money, there are other things we want more of. The results from an informal survey [Nimmo] indicate that we’d also like more happiness, more fun, more love, and a quiet, calm mind.

You can have more of all of these things by (1) shopping less (more time & money) and (2) permanently removing the clutter from your life. You can have more by having less. You can move from clutter to clarity and pursue the things that matter to you.

Start By Decluttering . . .

Clutter does more than simply take up space. We must spend money to acquire possessions, then spend time to clean and maintain them. Plus, a cluttered space detracts from a calm mind and uses up willpower.

Sometimes, we attempt to organize our living spaces, but we end up merely organizing clutter. And organized clutter is still clutter. But organizing clutter “is just well-planned hoarding,” according to Joshua Fields Millburn. [Pajer] As you start decluttering, keep the things that add value to your life and get rid of any items that don’t. [Pajer]

Removing clutter frees up space and helps you gain clarity.

. . . Then Buy Less

Here is a way to have more time and more money: shop less.

As we’ve discussed before, to expedite behavior change, to create or change a habit, you must change your environment. For example, if you want to give up junk food, don’t bring it home from the store. Make the decision once.

If you want to have less clutter, don’t bring in things that are destined to become clutter. Make the decision not to bring it home, then you never have to deal with a clutter situation. Here’s a question Joshua Becker proposes: Does the item you’re considering promote purpose? Is the item you’re looking at, writes Becker, “in some sense, a tool that contributes to your pursuit of the things that matter to you?” [Becker]

If not, reconsider if you need to acquire it at all.

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Things To Throw Away Now

The easiest way to begin a decluttering project is to throw away the obvious clutter, trash, etc. This is the beginning step to move from clutter to clarity.

Here are items to let go of:

  • Actual trash – junk mail, piles of paper waiting to be shredded.
  • Broken items that you’ll never repair.
  • Things you’ll never use – empty containers, books you’ve read or will never read, gifts or freebies you were given but have no use for, junk drawer items.
  • Items from a past phase. For example, when our cat died, we decided we wouldn’t get another cat. So we got rid of cat toys, cat beds, scratching post, pet carrier.
  • Items past their expiration date: food, medicines, makeup.
  • Clothes that don’t fit, are out of style, or that you don’t like and which you will never wear.

Move From Clutter To Clarity

To move from clutter to clarity, start by decluttering. A good way to start is by throwing out the items suggested above: trash, broken things, and stuff you no longer or will ever use. Next, look at your remaining possessions and decide which ones contribute “to your pursuit of the things that matter to you?”

Then change your shopping behavior to shop less and buy only those things that are useful to you right now.

You can have more – more money, more time, more space, more clarity – by having less. And that is embracing your Excelerated Life™!

If you picked one area to be better organized, what would that be?
Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.


Excelerated Organization™ — being clutter-free and well-enough organized — able to find what you need when you need it — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service.

Read more about the Excelerated Life™.


Resources:

Becker, Joshua. Things That Matter. New York: WaterBrook, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2022.

Nimmo, Karen. “The 6 Thinks People Want ‘More Of’ in Life.” On The Couch. A Medium Corporation, June 20, 2021. Web. Accessed June 16, 2022.
https://medium.com/on-the-couch/the-6-things-people-want-more-of-in-life-6ccd5a11d627

Pajer, Nicole.”13 Things to Throw Away Right Now.” AARP, Home & Family. AARP, Updated January 3, 2022. Web. Accessed May 14, 2022.
https://www.aarp.org/home-family/your-home/info-2021/things-to-throw-away.html?cmp=EMC-DSO-NLC-LISR—MCTRL-042622-F1-6323662&ET_CID=6323662&ET_RID=39326210&encparam=F59d46GVhf%20UMbpgQQp6KyDSExg0JNbEZLe4PKdKDvc=

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