How to Weed Out the Clutter and Let Your Garden Grow

What is clutter?  It's a mess.  Clutter is an untidy collection of things that 

  • aren't needed
  • haven't been put away
  • don't belong in the space they currently occupy  

Clutter is also appointments and time wasters that keep us from taking care of our most important goals and relationships.

Whether it's clean clothes piled on a chair, unloved toys tossed into an overfilled cupboard, unused kitchen gadgets that crowd a drawer, unopened mail scattered over the coffee table, or too many activities and too much social media, clutter swallows space and time, clouds your judgment, and makes every task harder. 

weed-free garden

Think of decluttering like weeding a garden.

Weeds can steal sunshine, water, and nutrients from the flowers or veggies you actually want.  With the weeds gone, your garden has room and energy to grow and flourish.  

In the same way, when you remove the clutter from your home or your schedule, you find renewed zest and creativity for the things and activities that matter to you. 

4 reasons we accumulate clutter

1.  Stockpiling

Between constant "special" sales, "buy one get one" offers, and "just in case" worries, it's very easy to buy much more than we want or need.  I find that two strategies help:

  • Be realistic about what you'll actually use.  Having an extra 4-pack of toilet paper is prudent, but a hoard of 50 rolls might indicate paranoia and fear.
  • Choose quality over quantity.  Better to have one premium lipstick in the perfect color than a 40-piece "lip palette" that will mostly go to waste.

2.  Sentimentality

Whether a gift from a loved one or a souvenir of your past, removing unneeded possessions that hold emotional value can be challenging.  But you don't need to feel burdened or guilty about these things forever.  Here are tools that can help you discover the most meaningful items and let the rest go.

3.  Aspirations

Most of us are tempted to buy things that we think will make us happy or "better" in some way.  We have visions of ourselves as fit, beautiful, talented, intellectual, and more.  

It's good to have goals, but so often we buy stuff and then fail to follow through.  The aspiration isn't real – it's something we've been sold by a clever ad or savvy influencer.  Exercise machines, trendy clothing, critically acclaimed books, chef-endorsed cookware, high-end hobby equipment... the list of potential dust-gatherers is endless.

By asking questions about who you really are today and what you really hope to achieve, you'll be able to declutter your fantasy self and either use those aspirational items or lose them.

4.  Social pressures

Many of us are "super busy" and find it hard to say no to new obligations.  We fear missing out, causing offense, or not measuring up to our own or others' expectations.  But learning to say no is essential for our happiness.  It's the only way to make time for tasks we really care about.

Instead of losing space, time, energy, and creativity to a cluttered home or schedule, give yourself the opportunity to flourish.  Weed out the clutter and let your garden grow!

Updated June 2023


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