For some reason, the idea of living a simple life seems to elude most people. Yes, we know some things happen in life that can be hard, but sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. I often ask myself is it the “Enemy” or the “Inner Me” that is causing the stress that is in my life. Sometimes we make life harder on ourselves than it ultimately has to be. But what if I told you there were ways to simplify our lives by removing or decluttering the things that don’t need to be there?

What comes to mind when you hear the word “clutter?” All that comes to my mind is a mountain of mess. I don’t necessarily see what the mountain consists of, but I see it, I don’t like it, and I’m sure you don’t either. When I think of clutter, however, I don’t just think about the typical episode of Hoarders (although that is clutter on steroids). I think about three different types of clutter: physical, emotional, and mental.

Let’s talk about them, shall we?

Physical clutter: It can be anything from clothes all over your bedroom to stacks of mail, papers, and books scattered throughout your home. I have a friend who vows to buy a paper shredder, but she never does. However, if she does, she keeps that mail and those papers intended for shredding tucked away in a drawer. Physical clutter can be the result of a hectic schedule or habit for some, but for others, it can mean something more. Have you ever heard anyone say that the appearance of your physical space can sometimes reflect your mental space?

Emotional clutter: Emotional clutter, while it’s not something that’s tangible, you can definitely identify it. This is the type of clutter that may linger from broken or damaged relationships, whether they be romantic relationships, friendships, or relationships with your family. Sometimes, unresolved issues result in emotional clutter.

Mental clutter: Ah, sometimes it can seem like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do what needs to be done, and before you know it, you’ve got a to-do list that extends for at least two pages. Not only that, it’s hard to give attention to one task when you’re thinking about the two-page list you need to tackle. Sometimes the inability to concentrate can result in not getting any of these things done. I’m sure you’ve experienced at least one of these three at some point in your life. As a matter of fact, one of these often leads to the other, depending on the situation.

Despite how overwhelming physical, emotional, and mental clutter can be, however, here are a few ways to combat each of them:

Physical clutter: It’s very simple: clean up. I know it’s easy to tell yourself you don’t have time, especially if you’re a victim of number three, but you’d be surprised at how much mental space you can clear up by clearing visual and physical space. And who knows? That lack of physical space could be contributing to your mental clutter as well!

Emotional clutter: If there are any unresolved issues between yourself and a friend (to include coworker, neighbor, etc.), family member, or spouse, have a sit-down and try to gain some closure. Even if the outcome doesn’t result in seeing things eye to eye, at least you’ve addressed it and freed up space and anxiety that was caused by holding onto it. Don’t allow your pride or ego to get in the way of your peace. Say that again ma’am. Ok, I will. Don’t allow your pride or ego to get in the way of your peace.

Mental clutter: In addition to tackling numbers 1 and 2, remember that you are only one person, and you can only do so much. Start chipping away at your list of to-dos, one task at a time, and focus on doing that well. Then, once it’s finished, move on to the next. Our minds often get bogged down with a mountain of things we need to get done, and we get
so consumed with the size of the mountain that we never even start to climb it.

Sometimes we may tend to dismiss clutter because we tell ourselves we just “don’t have time.” Or we reduce it to something minute when the reality is it’s taking up more physical, emotional, and mental space than we realize. An honest self-check, however, should reveal what we need to deal with in order to move forward towards a drama-free existence with plenty of healthy physical, emotional, and mental space.