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

Wednesday, 6th April, 2011

A Genuine Box of used items ready for a garage sale, Yard Sale,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.


Tdebbie019 fhank you for taking time to read this blog.

I’m Debbie Inglis, a performance coach, mentor and trainer, working with Heads, Principals, School leaders and their teams to maximise leadership performance, create more effective, confident, and motivated teams … in a way that brings out the best in you.

If you’re interested in my services, please get in touch, and you can read more here.