Clutter and I are no stranger to each other. We have entered the ring and went more than one round… more than once. I tried multiple methods and every quick fix I could find to get my act together. I wanted to believe the clutter in my life could be dealt with as simply and quickly as throwing it all away, but no matter how many things I got rid of (or how many times I got rid of them), the clutter always returned.
Things went on that way for years… until I realized the problem was bigger than what I could see. It wasn’t easy to admit (it never is when we’re wrong), but the physical clutter in my life was there as a result of the internal clutter I’d been avoiding.
I finally understood that if I wanted to get rid of the physical clutter in my life for good, I had need to deal with ALL the negative thoughts, damaging beliefs, and painful feelings with as much intention, or I would be held captive forever.
The clutter in your life didn’t just “show up” one day. It didn’t buy it’s way into your home without you knowing… it didn’t grow and make your house shrink… it didn’t walk out of the place it belongs… and it didn’t force you to like it. The hard truth is, just like me, you invited it… you gave it permission to take up space in your home as a result of the space taken up in your heart, mind, and soul.
The internal clutter you’ve been ignoring has been behind every purchase… every fear… every indifference… and every lie that has whispered to your heart “…you will never be free” and if you want to get rid of the clutter you see, you’ve gotta deal with the clutter you don’t.
EVALUATE (PART 1)
Taking time to EVALUATE your clutter is crucial if you want to break the endless clutter cycle that’s been on “repeat” in your life, so the next step of The PERRGE is to take a look at where the clutter is coming from and why. The clutter in your home is a result of every decision you made to buy it, want it, ignore it, avoid it, or desire it…
Think back to the clutter you just PICKED UP & PROPELLED and ask yourself…
Where did all the clutter come from that was in this room? Think back to what you packed up… all the boxes contain clutter that was just laying out in the open for everyone to see (contributing to your daily frustration). As you remember the things you PROPELLED into boxes (or clothing you needed to wash), it’s time to get honest.
FIVE REASONS BEHIND THE CLUTTER
#1) MORE STUFF THAN SPACE
One of the main reasons for the clutter accumulating is that we “simply” have more stuff than we have the space to put it. More space is not the answer to your clutter problem. A bigger house… another storage shed… a triple car garage… a more spacious kitchen… another larger fridge… or a bonus room is not the answer. The answer is found in a content heart.
When you start believing you have enough, you’ll stop wanting more… and when you stop wanting more, you’ll find the space you live in is enough.
SOLUTION: If you have more stuff than space, prepare yourself to get rid of stuff. Living with a “someday” mentality will only keep your soul searching and your heart unsatisfied. If you have too much clutter to fit in this room, start thinking about what you really need so you will be ready to let go of what you don’t.
#2) NO DESIGNATED PLACE
Another reason for clutter in our house is because it has no place to be… literally. When things don’t have a designated place to be, they will either never get put away OR never be found. Keeping something just because you want it, doesn’t make it any less clutter (remember clutter is anything that overtakes a space).
SOLUTION: Begin thinking about where things should go and possible container/storage ideas… but don’t go out and buy anything yet. Anything that stays in this room needs to have a place or you will forever have clutter laying around. What I’m saying here is, anything that doesn’t have a place will need to go.
#3) NOT PUTTING AWAY
When you don’t put your stuff away after you’re done using it, you’re creating clutter in your house. Oh, I know how it goes (believe me). I know you’ll get to it…
- after the kids go to bed…
- when the show is done…
- this weekend…
- when you have a day off…
- when you make your kids do it…
- or when you can’t stand the mess anymore.
Don’t allow yourself that taking care of “it” later is an option. It’s a bad habit and a horrible example. We need to set the tone by putting things away and teach everyone else in our house to do the same as a selfless act for the greater good of everyone living in our home. Leaving things for later is a sign of laziness, procrastination, slothfulness, and selfishness, and everyone else in the house is watching to see what you do.
Don’t put off putting away.
Putting things away will not only keep our home looking nice, but will make things easy to find because they’ve been put back where they’re supposed to be after they’re done being used. (What I’m sayin’ here is… no more wasting money on things you’ve already bought but can’t find because they weren’t put away!)
SOLUTION: Have a talk with the people in your home about picking up after they’re done using the items they took out. Sometimes, this can be resolved as easily as telling them where things go (especially little ones if there hasn’t been explained).
This is a new habit that will have to be formed, so be patient! Set a timer for every hour to make sure the house is still picked up. If there are items out, make everyone stop what they’re doing and put everything away again. Remind them if they put items away, right away, you won’t make them stop what they’re doing. As everyone gets better at putting things away, you can move from a reminder from every hour, to specific times during the day (after lunch, after supper, etc.) In our home we do a “10 minute pick up” throughout different times of the day.
#4) DON’T USE, NEED, OR LIKE ANYMORE
Another reason behind the clutter in your house is you just don’t use it, need it, or even like it anymore. This clutter usually has a place. It’s more of an out-of-sight-out-of-mind kind of thing. This is where more space can actually allow clutter into your home. When you have the space, it’s easy to fill it… even if it’s with things you don’t have any use for it or get any pleasure from it.
SOLUTION: If you haven’t needed it, worn it, looked at it, wanted it, or used it in a year… it’s time to let it go and make room in this room for more fun, laughter, love, order, peace, contentment, and joy!
#5) INTERNAL ATTACHMENT
This clutter owns you more than all the other reasons because there’s no real logic behind it. It’s fueled by emotional, spiritual, or mental clutter inside your heart, soul, and mind and it’s the most difficult to release because it pulls at your heart-strings, plays with your mind, and challenges your beliefs.
When you take a good look at internal attachment, it gets uncomfortable. There’s no way to sugar-coat it. Getting to the root of internal attachment causes us to realize unresolved issues we didn’t before… and chances are good there will be a moment where you doubt if you can take another step forward (believe me, I know).
For now, take a DEEP breath in and out and understand that getting rid of clutter or becoming a “minimalist” doesn’t mean you can’t keep anything meaningful. It doesn’t mean you have to throw away all your memories. It doesn’t even mean you can’t have a “collection”. Remember, things don’t become clutter until they overtake a space they don’t belong… and internal attachments become clutter when they overtake your heart, soul, and mind and replace God.
Any clutter from this room that you’re keeping as a result of guilt, shame, fear, anxiety, or “unfinished business” will need to be dealt with all the way to the root… or YOU will never be free from the clutter keeping you in chains.
SOLUTION: Begin addressing the attachments you have behind the clutter you’ve been holding onto. Journal about your internal attachments, sharing your concern, apprehension, and fear of letting the physical clutter go.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
If you’re unhappy with where all the clutter in your life, it might be a good time to take a look at where you’re standing… and how much stuff is in-between you and God.
If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Matthew 6:33
The abundance God has for your life is not based on your material possessions. You will never feel free when there is something that has your heart. When your heart is aching for more int he moment, than what God desires for you life, you will search, stuff, buy, want… and be miserable.
God has a purpose for your life that is good, and clutter in your life will only sidetrack you from that. It’s time to start focusing less on the things of this world, and more on the One who can release you from the clutter that’s been keeping your heart captive! It’s time to become truly CLUTTER-FREE!
What negative thoughts, damaging beliefs, and painful feelings have caused you to keep stepping back in the ring with clutter? It’s time to go deeper… because all the boxes you see reveal something more going on inside of you. Ask yourself, “What clutter been getting in-between you and God?”
- Have you been trusting more in yourself and what you want than what He wants for you?
- Is there clutter you’re keeping because you’re worried He may not provide for you?
- Are there unresolved issues, pain, or anger from your past you need to deal with?
- Do you need to let go of a hurtful or embarrassing experience?
- Do you need to forgive yourself?
- Have you attached unhealthy feelings to material things?
- Are you currently experiencing a high level of stress, anxiety, or fear?
Journal your thoughts and feelings. Remember, the internal decluttering is just as important for you to get rid of!
EVALUATE (PART 1) RECAP…
- ITEMS NEEDED: The PERRGE List and a journal (and pen) to continue writing about your journey.
- Grab a hot beverage and sit down with your journal to EVALUATE the reasons behind the clutter you just picked up and propelled in this room. Ask yourself, “WHERE DID THE CLUTTER COME FROM IN THIS ROOM?” Think back to the clutter in PICK UP boxes.
- Is there more stuff than space in this room?
- Are there no designated places for all the stuff in this room?
- Are the things not being put away?
- Is there stuff you don’t use, need, or like anymore… and you just haven’t gotten rid of it yet?
- Are there things you’re having a hard time letting go of due to an internal attachment?
- On your PERRGE List, write a number “1” under the category that’s the biggest reason for the clutter in this room. Continue with numbers 2 thru 5. Is there a big difference between 1 and 5, or do all 5 categories need similar attention? (Ask someone who lives in your home just to make sure you’re being completely honest with yourself.)
- Take some time to think of some possible solutions to get rid of the clutter, and start a list in the back of your journal with your ideas. Don’t go out and buy anything yet! If you change your mind during The PERRGE, simply cross out what you don’t want to do, and add what you do.
IF YOU’RE A MOM…
When working in a child’s room, be sure to include them in this process (as much as their understanding and age permits). DON’T get rid of their things while they’re at school, sleeping, or gone. Think of how you would feel if someone did that to your stuff… are you hyperventilating yet?… EXACTLY.
Do your children a favor and help them understand how clutter affects them and the people around them. Helping them PERRGE their own stuff (even though it might take a little longer) will help them to live a life full of meaning and purpose, instead of chaos and clutter!
YOUR NEXT STEP: Why It’s Important to EVALUATE the Purpose of a Room