At first glance you may answer ‘no’, however you may also not realise what clutter is and the effect has on your ability to focus, think clearly and be productive. Do you get to the end of a day and feel like you haven't achieved what you set out to do? Or do waste time looking for misplaced items or document? Perhaps you aren’t affected by physical clutter but instead mental or digital clutter.
So what exactly is clutter?
The dictionary defines clutter as 'a collection of things lying about in an untidy state'.
However my experience tells me there is more to clutter than being untidy. I would define clutter as:
Stuff you are holding onto that no longer serves you a purpose,
Stuff you own but no longer love
Stuff that is broken
Stuff that doesn’t have a designated space in your home or office
Anything you find overwhelming and disorganised (maybe an entire room or cupboard!)
Untouched boxes of stuff hidden in cupboards, garages and storage units.
Wardrobes and cupboards of clothes you don’t wear
Unordered files on your computer
Photos littered across your phone, hard drives and memory sticks
An out of control email inbox
In summary clutter exists not only physically in our homes and workplaces but also digitally on our computers and electronic devices.
What effect does clutter have on us?
When our physical and digital environments are filled with clutter it creates a distraction, making it difficult to think clearly and on focus our priorities and ‘to-do’ lists. Clutter also impairs our ability to be ‘present’ in meetings or when spending time with family and friends.
You may be surprised to learn that by removing clutter you can reduce housework by up to 40%!
We are led to believe multitasking is a desired strength, however our brains are simply not wired to multitask. Our best results are achieved when there is no clutter to distract us and when we concentrate on one task at a time. To prove this point consider how your driving becomes impaired when you text. Our brains simply cannot handle focusing on the two activities at once and it is dangerous to do so. So next time you think multitasking is making you efficient, think again.
Why do we have clutter?
Clutter accumulates over years. We’ve all been given gifts for our Birthdays or Christmas that we’re never going to use but feel guilty discarding. Or purchased something on sale because the offer was too good. During our 20’s and 30’s we accumulate. Especially if you have children, they bring home items of sentimental value you can’t bring yourself to let go. Fast forward 20 years, your children have left home and have kindly left you with many of their belongings.
What is the benefit of removing clutter?
By committing to reduce clutter and get organised you can expect to:
- Regain time in your day - with less time spent on non productive activities such as cleaning, choosing what to wear or looking for misplaced items
- Reduced expenses - no need to buy replacement items for things you cannot find or being stung with late payment penalties on forgotten bills
- Improved relationships with your family and coworkers as you become present rather than distracted during interactions
- Increased productivity as you begin to focus on one task at a time and improve the quality of your outputs
- Increased well being as you no longer need to feel guilty about not achieving your goals and spending quality time with family and friends,
A final thought:
If you saved 15 minutes each day looking for documents, lost items, choosing what to wear or reducing time spent cleaning. That equates to a gaining one full week over a year! We all have the same amount of time in a day but it's how we choose to use it that makes the difference.
So if you think clutter is getting in your way it's time to simplify. It’s time to cut the clutter, unstuff your life and regain control of your disorganisation for good!