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Prompt 10: Clutter (and Declutter)

Prompt 10: Clutter (and Declutter)
Photo by Ashim D’Silva / Unsplash

This week's prompt centres around a word to ponder.

The word being... CLUTTER.

To put a more positive spin on it - DECLUTTER.

I suspect those reading these prompts will be divided into two camps.

Half of you think this week will be a breeze (as you survey your clean desk, organised phone home screen, or neatly arranged wardrobe).

The other half of you is probably slowly backing away from the prompt (into your collection of mechanical keyboard components that clutter your desk.... hypothetically speaking of nobody in particular).

A couple of quick comments for each group.

Let's start with the second group.

I hear you.

I am you.

Don't back away - this week is about baby steps.

To the first group

This week's prompt can be about any area of your life with clutter.

Your wardrobe, desk and phone might be decluttered - but how about your calendar, schedule, mind, finances, etc?

Ok - so this week's prompt is really simple and comes in 3 steps.

Step 1: Identify the Clutter

What Clutter do you have in your life?

That's the question I invite us to ponder this week.

Feel free to take it in whatever direction you feel you like.

Most dictionaries define clutter as a collection of things lying about in an untidy state' - a physical mess of some kind.

small space
Photo by Humairah L. / Unsplash

Perhaps your 'clutter' is physical clutter - a room that needs tidying, a desk that has started to work against your productivity, a garden that torments you every time you walk through it?

But perhaps the collection of 'untidy things' that you have laying about could be non-physical things too.

Close up notification of email
Photo by Brian Tromp / Unsplash

Maybe your clutter is virtual clutter - a phone full of apps that distract you with their notifications or a constant stream of content throughout your day that fills a silence that perhaps you need to lean into.

making appointments
Photo by Marissa Grootes / Unsplash

Or perhaps it could be a cluttered schedule - a diary or planner full of activity and busyness that has mounted up without intention.

Or maybe it's a clutter of the mind -  too many ideas and not enough action - or competing priorities and possibilities that leave you paralysed.

Art supplies clutter
Photo by Khara Woods / Unsplash

Or could it even be a 'creative clutter' - too many creative projects - to the point that you never complete any of them?

Or maybe it's spiritual, social, emotional or even financial clutter (I'm not even sure what they'd look like, but perhaps this prompt will bring some clarity in some way I can't imagine).

Struggling to identify an area of clutter?

I suspect many of us are not having too much trouble identifying some clutter in our lives (I can think of a few).

For me, clutter tends to identify itself with guilt, shame and excuses (all of which I've felt as I've written some of the above). Perhaps that's a signal for you too?

But I also wonder whether clutter sometimes might hide.

Sometimes things might look ordered and tidy on the surface - but underneath can be a different story.

A few years ago, I heard someone at a conference define clutter in a slightly different way than the dictionary definitions I read today.

They said (and I wish I knew who it was so I could give them credit):

Clutter is 'anything that doesn't belong in a space'.

I like this definition because it isn't just identifying 'mess' or 'untidiness' as clutter.

Let's take my desk as an example.

I could remove everything from my desk except:

  • a keyboard
  • a computer
  • a mouse
  • a pen
  • a notebook
  • a food processor

I could make all of those items look tidy.

By the dictionary's definition, it would not be cluttered.

But of course, in the words of a song from my childhood, one of these things doesn't belong.

A food processor doesn't belong on a desk (at least it doesn't belong on mine).

A food processor on a desk is clutter - no matter how neatly you arrange it.

This definition applies well to physical clutter, but it may also relate to other areas of our life.

What in your life doesn't belong?

I'm not sure what it could be for you, but perhaps it might be something along these lines.

  • a mindset that needs to be let go
  • a toxic relationship that needs to be removed
  • a bad habit that needs to be kicked
  • a belief that you've outgrown
  • a job or role that no longer fits

Perhaps there's something that used to belong but no longer does - or perhaps it's something that never belonged!

This just got deeper than I expected.

Honestly, when I started writing this prompt, I imagined us all cleaning our desks and posting some before and after shots.

I guess that is a valid response - but perhaps the prompt will take you to some unexpected realisations.

Step 2: Do some Decluttering

Identifying clutter is only half of the story, though - I think to fully make this prompt worth pondering, we need to allow it to lead us to action.

design Broom and paddle for clean home
Photo by Jan Kopřiva / Unsplash

What steps will you take to declutter?

This week I challenge us all to begin decluttering in at least one area of life.

It might be physical clutter, or perhaps it's in some other area.

Choose one to start with and commit to taking some first steps.

Warning: Decluttering is not always a comfortable experience. Letting go of things can be hard.

It's easy to procrastinate on decluttering (in fact, this article links clutter and procrastination).

But if there's one thing I know about clutter - there's nothing more freeing and satisfying than cleaning up stuff that doesn't belong in a space.

Decluttering a room or a desk can have tangible benefits - and I suspect similarly, there will be freedom in decluttering in some of the other ways we clutter our lives up too.

Step 3: Share the Journey

If it helps - let's touch base in the Facebook group this week to support one another with our decluttering.

I'd love to hear what you'll be decluttering and what impact it has on you! You can share it on this thread.

Once you've shared - please take a moment to encourage someone else in the group who has shared.

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