Cleaning A Cluttered Mind: How Your Physical World Affects Your Mental World
One of the biggest struggles I find when consulting with clients is the clutter that seems to inhabit their mind. Often times their train of thought appears interrupted, their memory is somewhat fuzzy, and everyday responsibilities seem to slip through the cracks on a consistent basis. They’ll blame all these tendencies on poor sleeping habits, improper diet, lack of routine — and part of me would agree with them in that all of those variables will contribute to such a cluttered lifestyle. When I notice this general sense of mental untidiness, however, I’ll ask but one question:
What does your room look like?
8 or 9 times out of 10 I’ll get a very similar response from every single client: Chaotic, cluttered, unorganized, tangled, torturous….the list of words to describe “mess” goes on and on in endless fashion. And while I think diet, sleep, and routine are all important factors that can determine the productivity of one’s lifestyle, I think more than anything such productivity stems from the environment one inhabits on a daily basis. If your room is a cluttered mess, so too will the inside of your head be cluttered as well.
Often times clients will give me a defensive response in return, as if what I’m saying is an attack on their character. “I like it that way”… “My room has always been a bit messy!”. And while I’ve come to understand that some individuals were simply raised in such a lifestyle likely because their parents operated in a similar nature, I nevertheless see room for change and growth. And trust me, it’s not an attack on you.
Let’s create a scenario and think of it in a different way: Let’s say you decide one morning that you want to start exercising again. That’s great! You go to the dresser with clothes overflowing from every square inch in search of a pair of shorts. The shorts aren’t in the pants drawer where they were supposed to be. But after a few minutes of digging and swearing you find them in the shirts drawer. Now you need socks. You’ve got one sock but it doesn’t have its match, and no matter how many you pull from the sock drawer, the one you need isn’t the one you get. Quickly you scan the room and find the match beneath your bed. Now you need a shirt. Well that’s easy, you just saw one! But where was it again? The third drawer from the top?
You get the point.
What could have been a two minute episode to prepare for a workout suddenly turns into something far more stressful and bleak. If only your dresser was organized with clothes folded and packed away neatly! If only you could see the floor and that one stray sock wasn’t stuck under the bed, hidden out of sight. If only….(that’s too many “if only’s).
So now you see that there’s rhyme and reason for organization and de-cluttering. It has its benefits, sure. But you’re not sold, are you? Let’s expand upon this picture and look at the other places you inhabit consistently. Let’s look at your home, your car, your desk at work, your living room…notice a trend?
Often times clutter follows us like a bad smell. It starts in our rooms but continues to the kitchen where dishes sit in the sink, to the living room with blankets strewn across the sofa, to a car full of wrappers and bottles and trash from late night Taco Bell runs from a few weeks ago with friends, to a work desk with toys collecting dust from work parties and colleagues. Clutter is all-encompassing. It doesn’t manifest in one space, but rather many spaces all at once. And it messes with your mind.
They say a cluttered room makes for a cluttered mind, and this couldn’t be more true. If your life feels disorganized, take a look at the things in your life. Take a look at the dresser, the floor, the sink, the sofa, the car, the desk. If you notice a trend, it’s time to make a change. Only when you relieve yourself of clutter in the physical world can you begin to process the clutter in your mental world.
I can’t begin to count the times I’ve been told how good it’s felt for my clients to remove themselves of mess. A sudden weight that once sat on their shoulders is suddenly gone. What they once saw as stress from work or life was actually just stress from their environment. And what began as cleaning a mess in one aspect of their life suddenly leads to strides and growth in other aspects as well, almost in a natural and harmonious fashion.
So how do you remove clutter from your life? Where do you start?
Start small with this one. Buy tubs at Walmart for your junk, or if you’re feeling bold, donate it all and remove it from your life entirely. Create a system for organization and catch up on the hottest new shows to help you find some form of organizational routine or inspiration. But start somewhere. Make a change, no matter how small it may seem. Start with your dresser. Organize every drawer, fold all the clothes, give every sock a pair.
Take that feeling of productivity and enlightenment from junk and bring it with you, applying it to your house, your car, your desk, and so much more. Keep clearing the clutter!
I’ll be watching you grow, and am always here to help if you need to shed a little proverbial weight. You can do this.