Archive for April, 2011

De-cluttering Part 2: Mental clutter and tipping points

April 24, 2011

In De-cluttering Part 1 I explored the idea that physical clutter is different for each individual. We all have tipping points beyond which our ‘stuff’ becomes clutter and we feel the need to do something about it.

In Part 2 I turn my attention to the other dictionary definition: clutter = a state or condition of confusion. In other words, our mental clutter. Extending the idea of tipping points from Part 1:

What might the tipping points be that take us from clarity to confusion?

Here are some scenarios to explore this further …

1. Having too many choices


Sometimes with blog posts I start with a few ideas on a topic and I have a clear thought-train. Then, as I begin to write, I add other ideas and things can escalate until the clarity turns into fog! So at some stage, the tipping point came with one idea too many, or allowing myself to stray from my original path. The solution then was for me to strip away some of the less relevant ideas, or choose one aspect to write about, and save the rest for another post!

2. Not saying “no”


I’ve worked with several clients who talk about too much to do and no time for themselves. As we explore why this is happening, it becomes apparent they find it hard to say ‘no’ to requests/demands from others.

Thinking about everything you’ve agreed to, and trying to juggle the additional stuff with your regular things, is bound to lead to mental clutter. So recognising the tipping point between what we can manage realistically and what just becomes unwieldy is important. Learning to say “no” is useful to avoid additional clutter or confusion. Check out some tips to help with this here.

3. Negative thinking

Do you find yourself thinking, “I can’t do ____”, “I’m no good at ____” or “I’ll never be able to ____”?

These limiting beliefs about yourself can overpower your more positive, constructive thoughts. They clog up your moments of clearer thinking.

I would suggest that the tipping point here is when you find yourself opting for the negative belief rather than an alternative. Finding alternative beliefs is key here. Ask yourself what would be a more useful belief to have. For example: “I’m no good at expressing my opinion in meetings” can become “I can express my opinion with confidence and clarity”. Even if you don’t feel you do this at the moment, following the belief up with a good plan to achieve it will get you there!

What form does your mental clutter take, and how can you avoid it?


(Photo credits: Too many choices ; Say no! )

De-cluttering Part 1: The physical stuff and tipping points

April 6, 2011

I’ve spent quite a lot of my spare time recently clearing out old books, clothes, games, ornaments, etc., and generally spring cleaning. During this process I’ve been considering why, every so often, we feel the need to de-clutter. Not everyone is the same, and what constitutes ‘clutter’ for one person might not be for others.

So how do we define clutter for ourselves, and what makes us feel the need to de-clutter?

A dictionary definition states clutter is a “disorderly heap” and “a state or condition of confusion”. The first deals with the physical aspect (a clutter of ‘things’), the second suggests clutter within the mind.

In terms of physical clutter, I know people who function effectively with plenty of ‘stuff’ around them … various heaps of paper, files, etc.  A previous mentor of mine operated in what others called a cluttered environment. He would argue that he could find logic and order in the clutter; he needed the clutter to find patterns and answers to work-related tasks / challenges. He was the most creative mentor and line manager I’ve ever had!

You may be nodding and agreeing, “this is me, too”; or you may be thinking “I couldn’t work like that”. Either way, I suggest you know your boundaries and there’s an inherent tipping point beyond which you can no longer function effectively – at home or at work.

What’s your de-cluttering tipping point?

The tipping point may well be different for home than it is at work. (I’d be interested to hear from those who also work from home!) It is when we reach, or even pass, this point that the urge to de-clutter kicks in. It’s about knowing when your ‘stuff’ is becoming a distraction (i.e. clutter), resulting in making you unproductive.

Some possible tipping points:

– not being able to find what you are looking for within a few seconds

– not having enough room for the things you have

– thinking “this is a total mess!”

– other people telling you your space / area / room is a mess (here you are responding to other people’s tipping points!)

What are your tipping points for the physical stuff?

Do you consider yourself a creative person? If so, can you function effectively with lots of things around you?

Once you’ve recognised your tipping point, will you go beyond it and procrastinate about doing something?

Would love to hear your comments.

Part 2 will focus on the mental clutter, alluded to earlier.