Why Clearing out Clutter at Home Gives You Clarity, Inspiration and Energy!

Woman De-Cluttering Her Home

Plus an easy journaling exercise to get started…

This week, with Spring on the horizon, we’re taking a look at “clutter” – and why it’s so beneficial to get cleared up! Plus we’re sharing tips to de-clutter and a really simple journaling exercise to begin the process if de-cluttering and energising.

There have always been people who “hoard” – constantly gathering stuff, never letting go of anything. Often when this becomes a big problem, it’s a sign of deep loneliness, self-disconnection and unhealed emotional wounds.

But we’re all capable of hoarding to some degree…

It’s too easy to buy “stuff” these days

These days, we’re all actively encouraged to be hoarders, constantly prodded by media and advertising to buy! Marketing has become very sophisticated – big companies know exactly what emotional “strings” to pull (often subconsciously) to get us to buy their stuff…

And modern life offers us the perfect recipe to buy more stuff:

  • Buying stuff has got super easy with credit and the spread of online shopping: we just click our mouse and a few days later a package arrives.
  • Add in how busy we are. A lack of time generally also means a lack of time to get something repaired. We end up buying a new version, but can’t let go of the old because it “just” needs a new part.
  • Add in the constant stimulation from movies and TV shows to make our homes perfect, keep our wardrobe current, have the latest car, kitchen equipment or technology with the best new features.
  • Lastly, with all the stresses of modern living, shopping is a great quick ‘pick-me-up’ for when we feel down, lonely or uninspired. The thrill of the hunt – whether it’s for a bargain, or the perfect ear-rings to match an outfit – easily leads to a mountain of items which need to stored or dealt with.

(I avoid going on Etsy just to browse because that buzz of excitement – especially after a long day – is just too tempting. There is always something cute to buy!)

In fact clutter has become such a problem in modern life that there are entire TV shows devoted to it, as well as an entirely new industry – personal storage units – devoted to helping us store our stuff!

One reason so many of us never succeed at tidying is because we have too much stuff. Marie Kondo

The origins of the word “Clutter

A quick look at where the word clutter comes from is quite informative. The word “clutter” derives from a 15th Century English word – clotter – a variant of clot.

I think I’m most used to hearing clot in “blood clot”, which in itself is not the best association! But did you know the word clot has also been used to describe:

  • Collections of dead bodies
  • Cats (presumably stray ones),
  • Narrow, crooked, dark and dirty lanes
  • Spiders

All of these uses for the word clutter suggest that it’s not only icky, but that it collects and grows. How fitting!

Clutter is more than just a visual nuisance

When clutter accumulates in our homes, it not only impacts the beauty and comfort of our environment, it also impacts how we feel in our homes – sucking our precious energy.

What starts off as a harmless pile of papers, drawer of “things to be fixed”  or pile of boxes can grow and take over our homes, our energy, our lives. So instead of being a safe place to rest and recharge, our homes become toxic and draining.

When you honestly look at clutter and ask if it’s necessary in your life, buried emotions come to the surface… Toss what’s unnecessary so that you can finally relax, and your remaining possessions will have a clear place to land. Brooks Palmer

And of course, the pandemic has only made things worse. We have partners and children home all the time, everyone has their own stuff out, and online shopping opportunities have exploded!

Clutter tends to expand…

So, clutter is not only mentally toxic, but once started it tends to spread.

Dr Carl Jung, the famous psychoanalyst, believed our homes are a symbolic mirror of our inner selves – of unconscious wishes, emotions and an external manifestation of how we feel about our lives.

We all know that feeling we get when we look at a pile of stuff that needs dealing with. So we ignore it, and over time as the pile grows, the urge to ignore it also grows. Now we feel guilty every time we look at it. So we don’t…

What begins as a symptom of what’s going on in our lives becomes a part of the problem, causing us to feel stuck and stagnate.

The good news? Well, while getting our lives more under control can lead us to reorganize and tidy our homes, it also works the other way around: tidying our homes also helps us clear our minds and reorganize our busy lives.

Tidying orders and relaxes the mind. Marie Kondo

Getting organized

I bet you already have some things on your to-do list to get organized. Perhaps you’ve been meaning to go through your garage, clothes, sort out your kids’ outgrown toys, do your filing, review your kitchen equipment or organize the laundry closet.

When reviewing whether to keep something there are 3 important things to consider:

  1. Do you love it?
  2. Do you use it?
  3. Is it in good repair?

If it doesn’t meet one of these 3 criteria, why do you still have it? What benefits does it offer you? And importantly what disbenefits?

5 Tips to Help you De-Clutter and Get Organized

  1. Choose a small, manageable area to work on – it could simply be a single shelf, drawer, box or cupboard – at a time. Then focus on this area ie. don’t start a new area, until it’s done.
  2. If you just can’t get motivated to get started, simply do it in small time chunks – no-one said you have to do any of this ‘in one sitting’. You’ll be surprised how much you get done if you make a regular slot, however short. Try:
    • 15 mins at a set time every morning / afternoon / evening.
    • 30 mins every Monday night.
    • One hour every Sunday morning.
  3. Review each item one at a time, and put them in one of these 5 piles: 1) Keep, 2) Donate, 3) Recycle, 4) Repair and 5) Dump
  4. If an item is not in good repair, ask yourself: Realistically, am I ever going to repair this? Challenge yourself: If so, when? Could you perhaps let it go instead?
  5. (This may need to wait until after COVID) Ask a friend to help you sort through things. Or do a swap – they help you, and then you help them. This makes it a lot more fun!

You may even find that once you start, you enjoy yourself…

An energy boost during COVID…

Especially during COVID, getting organized is a great way to exert control over your life – and feel a sense of agency. For example, my hubbie and I recently organized our food cupboards – tins, bulk, herbs and dried food. We bought some specific slide out shelves and jars with labels. Now when we cook we don’t get attacked by falling packets when we open our spice cupboard. It’s energising now to be in our kitchen 🙂

Perhaps you’re not quite ready to get organizing – but would you love more clarity and energy instead? Try this easy journaling exercise instead to see what’s draining you. Then once you’ve identified what’s sucking your energy – however big or small – why not set aside time to take action and do something about it?

Journaling Exercise

What’s Zapping My Energy?

Take a fresh look around your home, and simply make a list using these 3 questions:

  1. What is draining and sucking my energy?
  2. Where have I got clutter?
  3. What am I ‘tolerating’ around the house?

Feel into this exercise: it’s not just about what you can see visually (lots of us have stuff hidden in closets!), but how you feel in certain parts of your home!

Some examples might include:

  • Dead plant on my filing cabinet
  • Outdated take-out menus and coupons all over the fridge
  • Shoes piled up and blocking your entrance way
  • A pile of unlabeled stuff to be garage-saled, given to charity, sold online (that’s been sat there for months)
  • Filing and papers
  • That drawer where you keep shoving anything and everything (to deal with later)
  • Box of ex-partner’s stuff or a past pet’s toys.

Fierce Kindness LogoWrap-up

Just because something belongs to you doesn’t mean you should keep it forever. If it doesn’t inspire you or serve a purpose, donate, recycle or give it to someone who will love it. Emma-Louise Elsey

When we clear up and put our home in order, we create the opportunity for corresponding changes in our lives. We regain clarity, ideas, inspiration – and energy! You may be surprised what a difference you can make in just 15 minutes – less than one episode of your favourite TV program. Why not try it and see?

If you need a smile and some inspiration (plus great clothes-folding tips) watch the Marie Kondo series on Netflix!

And if just thinking about clearing up leaves you feeling overwhelmed, ask a friend to help (even over Zoom!) or hire a professional organizer to do it with you.

Life truly begins after you have put your house in order.
Marie Kondo

What resonated most with you in this article? Tell us in the comments below!

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Change the world, start with you!

Image of Woman organizing her closet by Dragana Gordic via Shutterstock

4 Comments

  1. Sarah

    Love the Marie Kondo quote “Life truly begins after you have put your house in order.” Think it is so hard to move forward when you feel you have so much tidying to do. After having young children at home for two thirds of the past year, our house organisation has definitely suffered. But with the kids back at school and spring in the air, it feels like it is now possible to dedicate some time to that pile of paperwork, the children’s memorabilia box and the very questionable clothing I’ve been wearing on my lower half for the past few month!

    Reply
    • Emma-Louise Elsey

      Hi Sarah, so glad you found the quote helpful! Enjoy getting organized 🙂 Em x

      Reply
  2. Sarah

    The decluttering is working. The pile of paperwork is now 50% smaller than last weekend!

    Reply
    • Emma-Louise Elsey

      That is AWEsome Sarah! You (clearly) totally rock. Good work 🙂 Em x

      Reply

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