It’s called clutter and each of us has it in our lives. This can be physical clutter or mental clutter.
The insidious nature of clutter is this: it establishes itself so gradually and entrenches itself so deeply, that we don’t even consciously know it is there. But it is there, sapping our creativity, our energy, and our productivity, and ultimately our health.
Physical clutter is clutter in your physical environment. This can be in your car, your office, your kitchen, your bathroom, your closet, your garage etc. It can be unorganized, unkempt, or it can be organized and arranged: but it is stuff–and too much of it.
You have to move it, step over it, dust it or feel guilty for not dusting it. You have to look at it. It is there. It takes up space that could be used for other things or space that could simply be emptied and left serene and open.
A clear, focused mind needs a clear, focused environment. When you are living surrounded by clutter (whether you even notice the clutter consciously or not), it pulls on you and chokes your forward movement and your creativity. It always demands to be dealt with, and that is draining on you. So you have less energy for fitness and for health.
And you have less energy to live and to love.
Mental clutter is clutter in your patterns of thinking and reacting to yourself and others and everyday circumstances. Again, it operates under the radar most of the time, which makes it especially menacing.
Mental clutter can be self-defeating ways of thinking about yourself, entrenched patterns of behavior with certain people, habitual ways of reacting to certain situations or just a general approach to life that blindly runs on auto-pilot.
The trouble with living blindly is that you don’t really live: you can’t see options or alternatives. With creativity choked off, you stagnate. And your energy slowly drains away.
So how do you clear out clutter that you can’t see? Whether it is physical clutter on your bookcase or the mental clutter of responding the same way to that person who always manages to raise your blood pressure, you can get to work on it immediately.
Try these solutions:
- Assess the different environments that you live and work in. Take one small space at a time and physically touch each object (otherwise you won’t see many of them, because you are so used to it being there).
- Ask yourself—What is this? Why do I have it? What is its function? Does it enrich my life? Does it bless me? Would someone else be blessed by it? Is it trash? After I’ve gone, will someone else have to come in and get rid of it? Try to eliminate as much as you can.
- Have a friend come in when you are finished and go through it again with her. You’ll have a fresh perspective, and she’ll have an objective one.
- Think really hard before acquiring more stuff. And try to remove something from your environment each time you bring something additional in. Out with the old and in with the new.
- Slow down. In order to identify your mental clutter, you must slow down and really pay attention.
- Ask yourself this key question several times a day: “Do I have other options?” Whether it is when that ‘someone’ is beginning to push your buttons or whether you are rushing to get to work again, just stop for a moment and try to come up with one or two other scenarios.
- Set a reminder several times a day to remind yourself to stop and take note of what you are doing when the reminder sounds. Are you eating? Checking Twitter for the 12th time? Having the same dead-end conversation with someone?
- Take a look at your routines: bedtime, morning, lunch, late afternoon, etc. What are your habits? Are they productive? Destructive? Time wasters? How can you make them better?
- What are you procrastinating? Leaving a dreaded task undone is a sure road to low energy and low productivity. Make a list of those tasks which you have been putting off and just do them. You’ll be amazed at your energy level afterwards!
Being fit and healthy requires being intentional about your environment, your schedule and your relationships. Take it one day at a time and start moving toward deliberate living.