I’ve noticed an interesting response when I tell people that decluttering is a specialist area of mine. That response is a shudder. The sort of shudder that implies that I’ve seen through a guilty secret of theirs. While all I’ve told them is that I’m keen on decluttering myself.
Once I’d noticed it, I started to ask myself what this guilty shuddering business might be hooking into for the people I talk to. As I thought about it, it became clear to me that we all have some level of clutter. Heck even I do! And the thing about clutter is that once you’ve admitted to yourself that it exists, once you’ve become aware of it in your environment, then you also become aware that you ought to be doing something about it. And here’s where the interesting guilt dynamic kicks in…
You see… clutter isn’t clutter if you declutter it straight away. Which means that all those areas of clutter that are waiting for you to declutter them are a very visible reminder that you ought to be taking action. They’re a reminder that you’re less than perfect. They become monuments constructed and maintained in honour of your procrastination. And we all know how great procrastination makes us feel, right? About minus 20 on a scale of one to ten!
I believe that all clutter exists either because you’ve deferred a decision about what to do with it, or because you’ve made the decision but not taken the action. Either way, you’re procrastinating.
Take, for example, a pile of magazines on your floor. It may be the case that you know you need to take some action to sort through the magazines, to decide which ones you want to keep and to find a place to store them. Or maybe you want to read through the magazines, clip out any interesting articles, file the articles in a way that will allow you to find and use them again, then discard the rest of the magazine pile. In both of these scenarios, you already know what action you intend to take, but you’re procrastinating on taking the action.
The other form of procrastination with this pile of magazines is that you put off even the thought process of deciding how you want to deal with them. So they sit on your floor, cluttering your space, draining your energy (and, by the way, the lower down your clutter is, the more it will drain your energy. So at the very least, get those magazines up off the floor and onto a table or a shelf!), making you feel bad for not having decided or done anything about them yet.
And that’s just a pile of magazines! When you multiply it up to include all the clutter blackspots in your environment, you’ll probably realize that you’ve got some seriously high levels of procrastination going on. And because procrastination is linked to those feelings of guilt, the more clutter you’ve got around you, the worse you probably feel.
The good news is… that to boost your energy, to cheer yourself up and to feel generally better all round, all you need to do is to get decluttering! And once you get started on that process, the sense of liberation and energy that it releases can transport you into an impressively productive decluttering groove.
So the next time you catch sight of your clutter, just ask yourself, what am I procrastinating on here? Do I need to make a decision about this clutter? Or do I just need to move into action on a decision I made a while ago? Then get shifting. Shift your clutter, and you’ll shift your energy. There’s no need to treat your clutter like a guilty secret any more and no need to shudder at the mention of it. Simply look it in the eye and see it for what it is. A manifestation of procrastination that can be easily shifted.