What comes to mind when you hear the word clutter?

If you’re like me, you immediately think of all the things that you don’t have any use for yet you’re still hanging on to for the flimsiest of reasons.

Usually, we have a tendency to define clutter as what is in our physical environment. Yet in reality, clutter accumulates in our psychological environments as well. If anything, this latter type of clutter is more significant and impacts us more despite being invisible.

Clutter is not just the stuff on the floor. It’s anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living.
~Peter Walsh

Clutter is a sneaky thing and can creep up on even the most disciplined individual. It includes the following among others:

  • That towering pile of files on your desk.
  • Numerous unread emails in your inbox.
  • All your childhood possessions stashed at the back of your closet.
  • Boxes full of stuff you’re yet to unpack.
  • A closet or room that’s become a ‘catch it all’ for stuff.
  • Bitterness, resentment and anger due to past hurts.
  • Feeling overwhelmed due to too many commitments.
  • Inability to organize and manage your day or time.

All these leave you feeling distracted, overwhelmed and frustrated to the point of increasing your stress levels.

At this point you know it’s time to de-clutter, which can be a daunting thought in itself. The sheer enormity of where to begin can grip you in indecision and lead to even further anxiety which only compounds the situation.

However, this process isn’t necessarily excruciating as long as you tackle it one small step at a time. Remember, the clutter didn’t grow overnight so take your time to set it right.

Consistent small steps combined over time will slowly produce the desired results. It’s also easier to maintain the clutter-free environment once you’ve cleared it up.

So where do you start? Let’s look at…

Key areas you need to de-clutter

1. Your Home

When doing things that don’t excite you, it’s best to start with what is closest to you. In the case of clutter this would probably be the heart of your home – your bedroom.

A task as simple as making your bed makes a huge difference. It can also motivate you to organize the rest of the space since the bed is the focal point. Plus, sleeping in a well-made bed will also improve your night’s sleep.

Second, clear away the things that are lying on the floor and then organize the surfaces. Give away what you no longer need and organize what you are keeping neatly in the closets. Remember to focus your efforts on one small space at a time and clear it completely before moving to the next one.

Getting rid of clutter creates energy and focus and you will find yourself getting revitalized the more you organize your rooms.

Gradually apply this process across all the rooms in the house till you are done.

TIP: If you haven’t used something (e.g. an item of clothing) in six months, it’s time to find it a new home!

2. Your Work

Work Space

It’s essential that you de-clutter your work space if you want to be more focused and productive in your work . Work space includes your entire work area, physical and virtual files, work calendar and commitments.

Your Desk

Use the same step by step process as for the bedroom and start with small tasks before moving on to the bigger ones. Trash or shred any documents you no longer require. File away important ones in an organized cabinet. Keep your desk clear with just your computer and anything you are working with.

Computer and Laptop

To clear virtual files, go through the files on your computer and organize them into clearly labelled folders. There is nothing more irritating on a computer screen than numerous icons on the home screen. Save them on your drive or better still on the cloud.

You also need to delete spam regularly and utilize rules and alerts to organize your incoming messages. A huge benefit of organizing your computer is increased speeds when working or accessing files. This in turn saves you time and reduces frustration.


If a meeting does not require your input then it is clutter in your calendar. Remove it. The same goes for a meeting that could have been replaced by a phone call or email circulation.

When it comes to holding meetings, the standard duration of a meeting should not exceed one hour. Key strategies to holding short and effective meetings include:

  • Having a clear agenda that is circulated to participants at least 2 days in advance.
  • Inviting only the necessary people.
  • Focusing on creating solutions during the meeting.
  • Alternatively, you can hold your meeting in a room without seats.

Inculcate a work culture of advance planning to avoid ad hoc activities and commitments popping up as these will disorganize your time.

TIP: Maintaining a clear desk improves your focus and productivity!

3. Your Personal Life

This includes all aspects of your life that affect your mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. This type of clutter can prove to be elusive to some as you may not even realize its impact on your life. It requires a lot of introspection and self-awareness to identify toxic clutter and eliminate it completely.

Start by taking a step back and take stock of your life. Honestly evaluate your thoughts, feelings and values and beliefs. Find out the answers to questions like:

  • What gives you immense genuine pleasure?
  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • Who or what is standing in the way of you doing the things you love?
  • What or what are you holding onto that no longer serves any useful purpose?

Make a detailed assessment of how you spend your time. Eliminate the things that aren’t important to you while creating more time for things that you love or value.

One thing that will help you in this area is having the ability to say no without feeling guilty. Creating boundaries creates opportunities and allows abundance to flow towards you.

Don’t forget to de-clutter the digital part of your life as well…so limit time spent online, on television and your phone.

Emotional clutter is toxic. Harbouring grudges or resentment for past hurts only serves to exhaust your energy reserves and doesn’t change the situation. You have to forgive past hurts, let go and move on. Seek professional help if necessary.

Remember that this process will not happen overnight so create realistic expectations of the progress and journal your journey. Journaling is a powerful tool that will also help you appreciate your growth.

Clearing your mind and heart of clutter opens you up to new possibilities and opportunities in your relationships and helps you thrive.

TIP: NO is a complete sentence! Use it.

Keep clutter away for good

Ensure that clutter does not creep back into your life. To do this:

  • Devise and document a system that keeps you accountable and carry out a spring clean at least twice a year throughout your life.
  • Avoid procrastinating and deal with things and issues as soon as they arise.
  • Create a vision for how you would like your life to look and place it on a vision board. This serves as a constant reminder to take action on potential obstacles.

This system, in addition to the tips shared in this article, will help you have a freer and clutter free life, home and work environment.

Has physical or emotional clutter overwhelmed your life?

Are you stuck on where to start or overwhelmed with your clutter? Then you will benefit from a Strategy Coaching Session with one of our life coaches. Your coach will help you work through the issues that are holding you back or keeping you from having a clutter free life. Together, you’ll come up with a simple 3-step action plan to have a happier and more balanced life.

(Images courtesy of: Unsplash)

Veronica Waithaka
Veronica Waithaka

Veronica is a Fulfillment Coach based in Nairobi, Kenya. She specializes in personal development and customer service excellence.

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