To let go of unintended clutter you first have to identify it.
How much of it is stuff that creeps in?
Sometimes it is obvious, the papers on the kitchen counter or the clothes draped over the treadmill. Other times the clutter is well hidden, the batteries stored in several places or the unwatched videos in the craft room cabinet.
All those things that should have made life easier are harder to identify.
Things pile up and stuff creeps in. It is easy to ignore it or dismiss it as unimportant, especially when it arrives a little bit at a time. The longer you ignore it, the longer it will take to getting around to dealing with it. A self-fulfilling prophesy.
Ever find yourself saying, “that stuff isn’t in the way.” Most of my clients say that at some point in the process. The problem being that when we do look at the pile more closely, they also say things like “oh, I’ve been looking for that,” and “what is that?” and “I thought I took care of that.”
Occasionally there is cursing involved, when toes are stubbed or the pile falls on the floor. Still think that stuff isn’t in the way?
A pile of stuff that is tucked out of the way may not seem to be hindering you but it is costing you. Sometimes just knowing the cost can motivate you to start processing the piles and improving your situation.
- Storing all the research materials for a trip you took years ago takes up the space you could be using for the research materials for your next great adventure.
- Removing those clothes from the treadmill could save you the cost of a gym membership.
- Clearing the kitchen counter of paper could create enough space for your kids to help you cook dinner together.
- Separating the important correspondence from the junk mail could save you late fees and finance charges.
- Removing the expired food from the pantry and fridge can provide the space for healthier eating.
- Consolidating the gift-wrap could reveal enough space in the closet for a guest’s clothes.
It creeps in and piles up, a little bit at a time. The energy, space and possibility are exposed when you deal with the stuff in the way.
Look around. How much of your unintended clutter started with good intentions? The things to make, the things to give, the things to enrich your creativity or intellect, the things you haven’t gotten to.
These things are good intention clutter. These things represent an interrupted plan – something else was more important. When things pile up, it’s time to reevaluate.
I want it to be easy, not a chore for you to give, to yourself and others. That, is hard to believe when you are only looking at the stuff you meant to do. So, clear the clutter of good intentions and you can give more in the future.
When you are short on time do you default to buying something? And then because you are short on time you don’t follow up on the purchase. It is still in the bag, or waiting for another piece, or you never wrapped it, or you ran out of time before the event so you will use it for something else.
It is hard to let go because you still desire the feeling (usually of appreciation or brilliance) you would have gotten from the original intention.
So, because you are short on time you do something that if you completed it, it would give that feeling. And because you are distracted you don’t finish and now you have a pile of clutter.
An essential part of any plan is the time to execute it. It is easier in the long run to let go of something than to buy or start something new that you won’t actually have time to finish.
Let me show you a few ways this might show up for you and how a simple change in perspective can help you let go of unintended clutter and make good on your intentions.
- My mother had 4 ½ 4 ft. stacks of books she wants to read. She is a medium speed reader. We calculated that it would take over 4 years for her to read all the books in the piles. That is without any new reading material coming in.She decided that she would rather do a variety of things and let go of the expectation that she would read them all.
She gave herself permission to let go of all the “cute” books that are her bright shiny objects and of most non-fiction, because it is only someone else’s opinion. The piles got shorter and now she is more up to date on a few of her favorite fiction writers.
- One of my clients loves to start stitching projects. And she started lots of them. She was stitching all the time and feeling like she never made a dent in the projects she wanted to do. They piled up, until she called me in to help reclaim her craft room.
Turns out she had 34 book bag style tote bags from various conferences she had attended. Each filled with a completed stitching job that needed to be turned into a pillow, or framed, or attached in some way to something else. It was quite clear to me that her passion was stitching. What she avoided was making the end product.
I suggested that she find one of the other women in her sewing club that liked finishing projects. Now she enjoys the needle through the cloth and hand off the tote to someone else. Enjoyment without the pile!
- A friend of mine has a great idea for a franchise. However, he runs his own fairly successful business in crisis mode. He also has a chronically full voicemail box. Everything is always urgent right now. So, the idea gets put on the back burner for years.
Clearing out the voicemail would allow for easier conversations and fewer crisis to solve. That would create enough time to work on the franchise plan.
- I have at least 2 clients that have a gift closet. As we go through the rest of their home looking to remove clutter, their first tendency is always to put the item in the gift closet. Many of the items were originally purchased for someone in particular.
Having not made it to the gift closet when first purchased, the someone in question either received something else bought on the fly or never received a thing due to the embarrassment of not pulling it off in the first place.People who are only your friends due to the receiving and giving of gifts are not friends. Friends are happy for you when you have a lot of other cool stuff going on that requires your time. Friends are supportive when you have a bunch of crap to deal with temporarily. They would rather spend time with you. Just pick up the phone and ask.
The added bonus when you let go of most gift giving is that you can also let go of the gift wrap and packing supplies that go with them. A nice small pile of greeting card takes up so much less space. Gather them all together and shop your own pile before buying new ones.
Let go of the clutter and keep working on the intention.
Let me know what comes up for you as you look at the piles around your space. I’ve got work to do myself, I just noticed my “interesting” pile is about to overflow the spot I’ve designated for it.