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Are you are just starting on your simplicity journey or have you been decluttering for a while and finally feel like you’ve gotten a handle on things? In any case, let’s explore various types of clutter and how to simplify your life.
How to simplify your life
Simplicity by definition is plain, natural and easy to understand. Clutter is the enemy of simplicity. To get to simple, we first need to think about all the ways we experience clutter.
6 types of clutter:
When people first think of clutter, physical clutter is what tends to come to mind. It’s the stuff that stares us in the face from the moment we walk in the door at home.
Physical clutter is often obvious and hard to ignore (unless you are a closet or drawer shover, then maybe it isn’t as obvious to outsiders).
First, you have to figure out what clutter is in your home. In short, anything you don’t use or love is clutter. Physical clutter can be clothes, furniture, household items, papers, decor items, toys, sentimental items, accessories, etc.
Any object you own that you are not making use of can fall into this category. In order to get a handle on physical clutter, it’s helpful to choose the best method for decluttering for your home.
Mental clutter comes in various forms. It could be your to-do list that runs in your mind all day long but isn’t written down anywhere. Mental clutter could be work that you keep thinking about long after you leave the office.
If you are overwhelmed with schoolwork that can also lend to mental clutter. When you are multitasking and your mind is jumping from place to place as you’re doing numerous things, you’re mentally cluttered.
Technology can also create mental clutter. Your mind could feel cluttered from too much Netflix, video games, or social media.
When your mind is exhausted at the end of the day from all of the information and stimuli it’s been exposed to, that can create mental clutter.
Emotional clutter is sometimes tied to physical clutter such as a gift someone gave you (or was handed down from a relative who passed away) that you don’t love and aren’t using, but feel too guilty to get rid of.
Each time you look at the object, you have an emotional response of sadness, guilt, etc. In this instance, physical objects can cause emotional clutter.
Another type of emotional clutter can be from your relationships. If you have friendships or family relationships that aren’t healthy you can feel emotionally cluttered.
This type of clutter can result from having a person in your life who is constantly bringing you down with their negative attitude or unkindness. In other cases, there are boundary issues, such as codependency, that creates emotional clutter.
We live in a world where we clutter seems to follow us everywhere. While technology has saved us from having a million physical pictures to carry around with us, we instead have thousands of files that take up space on our phones and hard drives.
Digital clutter can include pictures, videos, messages, documents, and emails. Anything that can be stored on your phone or computer can become digital clutter.
This type of clutter can be easy to ignore until your phone is full or your computer starts malfunctioning. Similar to physical clutter, digital clutter does get frustrating when things aren’t organized and you can’t find a particular item in the chaos of all the things.
If you are looking to declutter and organize your digital world, a great resource for this is Simplify Days.
Finances can also be cluttered. There are so many aspects to consider and organize with insurance, 401ks, savings, and retirement, as well as the daily aspects of budgeting.
If you are overwhelmed by your finances, I recommend Financial Peace University. Dave Ramsey is great at breaking things down and helping you get on the same page as your spouse as you declutter and organize your financial house.
Our schedules can also be cluttered with too many commitments and not enough downtime. There comes a point where you need to figure out how to start saying ‘no’ if you want to reclaim your life.
Recently I read Breaking Busy and it is a great resource as you think about your schedule and how you manage your time. I think our out of control schedules are a huge reason people are so stressed, tired, and sick.
Taking time to reassess your commitments is imperative.
How to simplify your life & what it looks like
Simplicity is what lies on the other side of our chaotic cluttered lives. Once the excess has been cleared out, we’ve made room for a simpler life. We can create sustainable and more manageable systems with less stuff.
If you are trying to simplify your home, don’t attempt to declutter everything at once. You’d likely end up overwhelmed. Take it one room and one section at a time.
If you want to simplify your life it starts with taking one step at a time. Work through one type of clutter at a time before moving onto the next thing.
Simplifying means you have more time freed up for things that matter, like spending time connecting with friends and family members. It also allows for self-care by practicing solitude and quiet when possible.
A simpler life means you also get more time to live in the moment with fewer distractions.
Why simplicity is important
Living a simpler life means having less stress. Less stress and overwhelm means you’re physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthier. Planning for more rest in your life impacts all of those areas positively as well.
Living simply not only allows us to focus on our why more, but frees us up for the things that bring us joy. It helps us take our eyes off of ourselves and lets us look for ways to bless others.
As we live out simplicity, we are modeling it for our kids. For good or bad, children look up to their parents and often take on the behaviors they have seen modeled as they grow up.
Are we teaching consumerism or gratitude? Are we modeling being overscheduled or having margin and balance?
Living simply allows kids to have parents who are less overwhelmed and it creates less stress on them too. If kids have too many toys and, thereby, too many options, they become stressed too.
If we give them a lot of things and then expect them to put everything away and maintain their things, that could be an overwhelming ask for a child.
Modeling simplicity gets more and more challenging as our culture continues to change and provide countless types of distractions. Being present isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
So how do you simplify your life? You choose to have healthy boundaries with money, things, technology, and people. Experience what it means to live a life of intention and purpose with fewer distractions as you take on more simplicity habits.
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