Wednesday, January 13, 2016

other kinds of clutter (+ why they matter)

through my series on minimal living, I've spent most of my time talking about stuff. you know, the physical clutter that fills up our homes and gets in the way of what we actually want to do in life. cutting back on clutter is a huge part of moving toward minimalism, but as weve made our transition, we quickly realized that it wasnt just stuff closing up our lives. as we purged and cleaned and learned to live with less stuff, it became apparent that in a lot of ways, this "other" clutter was just as, if not more, harmful than the physical clutter we were working so hard to fight against. 

so what exactly do i mean by "other kinds of clutter"? i mean things like: 

digital clutter. all the files, photos, emails, etc. that are filling up your computers/devices. not only do these things get in the way of you finding what you actually need, they also take up valuable memory that you could be using for something more productive. 

mental clutter. all the mental "lists" we tend to make to try and feel more organized (things we need to buy, things we need to get done, plans we need to make, etc.), have a tendency to do the opposite and make us stressed out and frazzled. making a habit of writing them down can make a huge difference in the stress/anxiety department (this has been a huge one for me personally. yes, i do spend way too much money on notepads and calendars). 

media clutter. this includes both media media (tv shows, news, and the like), as well as social media platforms/accounts that you follow/watch but arent getting any benefit from. im not saying that all media is bad and that you have to live in a cave, but what i am saying is that when you start cutting out the stuff that youre not really into, it frees up SO much time and mental energy. 

false productivity. by this i mean all the little things we do to check off boxes on our to-do lists so we feel like were doing something but arent really. for example, i used to do a LOT of internet surveys (for money): almost every day id spend at least half an hour clicking on things feeling SO productive when really all i did was make a couple of dollars in gift cards. for a time this was a good way to make a little extra money, but as time went on (and life got more complicated) i realized that i was using a LOT of valuable time on... well, nothing really. 

unfinished projects. this one is a double whammy: unfinished projects take up physical space just by existing, and also mental space by reminding us that theyre there and need us to finish them. when the unfinished projects start piling up, make the decision to either get rid of them or actually finish them. and dont start any new projects until every unfinished one has met one fate or the other. 

time sucks. you know, those dumb little things you get sucked into for no apparent reason that you dont even enjoy (im not talking about recreational activities, im talking about the ones that serve no purpose. entertainment is a very important purpose). this might be phone games or facebook scrolling or clickbait articles or whatever, but youd be surprised at how much smoother life can go when you let them (whatever they are for you) go. 

overcommitment. much like filling up your day with false productivity and time sucks keeps you from getting anything really important done, overcommitting yourself so that every day on your calendar is booked with something does the exact same thing, just on a bigger scale. i mean, theres nothing wrong with being busy if all that busy-ness is intentional and productive, but nothing good comes from being busy for the sake of being busy.  

taking the time to deal with the clutter in our home really opened our eyes to the other kinds of clutter in our lives, and it didnt take long for use to realize that these types of things had exactly the same nasty side effects as the "regular" kind of clutter. this may seem like a kind of negative revelation, however, just like the stuff in our home, as we identify and address these other sources of clutter, were seeing the same kinds of benefits to the decluttering all over again. 

what are your thoughts on these other kinds of clutter? how do you deal with them to simplify your life? 

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