Is Too Much Clutter Getting in Your Way?

how to clear out space to move forward

It may not be obvious, but clutter has an effect on the way in which we pursue our dream. We can become burdened by the clutter that accumulates in our houses, in our cars, on our desks.

The pile-up bogs us down, makes us feel like we're not on top of our lives, and convinces us that we can’t add anything new, let alone start to dream big.

a messy mind

Often, the amount of clutter lingering around is a good indication of what’s going on in our lives. In fact, we could probably say that “the state of your house is often the state of your mind.”

If you’re surrounded by a mess, it causes internal stress. And often stress causes us to procrastinate tidying up, which accumulates the clutter.

Does the chaos around us cause us to descend into a disorganized state of mind? Or does our cluttered and overwhelmed mind start to be reflected in our physical spaces? It might be hard to say which came first — the stress or the mess — but we’re struggling to maintain all of it.

Creating white space in our lives, our homes, and our schedules is an important part of pursuing what God has for us.

why it

’s hard

Why is it so hard to keep our spaces clutter-free? For one thing, most of us live in a wealthy society with a constant onslaught of things we could accumulate.

Also, it’s impossible to be constantly vigilant.

We are busy people, with stuff coming at us all the time. The failure to be on top of everything can discourage us, and cause us to start characterizing ourselves as lazy or messy. This negative view of ourselves only gets us further entrenched in clutter, so we should make a sincere effort to stop telling ourselves these lies!

The fact is, we must periodically clear things out. It’s a fact of life in our busy, cluttered society. And it’s critical because it truly does impact the time, creativity, and mental freedom we are able to give to our Dream.

getting down to the fear

We are often hesitant to get rid of clutter because of fear. If we examine our reluctance, we see that we’re fearful of not having enough, of running out, of being caught short.

Perhaps we fear being wasteful.

But if all of this clutter is dragging us down, filling us with guilt or shame for not using it, or not making good enough use of it, then it’s not serving a positive purpose in our life.

Sometimes under all of this hesitance is a fear of facing the idea that we made a mistake, a bad purchase.

But realize this: holding onto a bad purchase doesn’t erase the mistake you made — it only keeps the object around, repeatedly reminding you of your mistake!

practical ways to make room for the dream

As yourself about everything - “do I actively use this item, or do I love seeing it every day?”

If not one of those two responses, get rid of it!

Don’t be tempted to keep tons of things you may use someday. You can probably afford to replace an occasional item you’ve purged. It’s worth that extra bit of expense to get all the rest of the junk cleared out.

Next time you shop, think about this future question you’ll ask yourself about each item you consider purchasing.

Will you be able to answer “yes” to the using/loving question? If not, don’t buy it!

When you’re ready to declutter, start with the place that bothers you the most. You know, that area that makes you feel messy and disorganized every time you see it. Don’t necessarily start with a huge project you can’t complete quickly. Pick one place that will make you feel much better, and then make it your “one clean place” that you always keep clean. Don’t even start letting that spot get messy, because you know it will multiply. Over time, you’ll probably find that decluttered area starting to spread, and your tolerance for messiness get lower.

If you find that clutter accumulates in a certain place all the time, rather than trying to be super-disciplined, get creative and put something in that spot that will collect the items in a neater way.

Eliminate as many horizontal surfaces as you can. Don’t have extra end tables, shelves, and desks that only get used to pile things. If you don’t have spots to put things down and let them stay there, you will be forced to deal with them properly.

remember the parable of the seeds

In Jesus’s parable about the seeds and sower, He tells the story of a sower scattering seed. Some of the seeds get snatched up by birds, some falls on soil too rocky to grow, some is scorched by the sun. But some of the seeds do take root and then get choked by the weeds.

Jesus explains this parable to His disciples, clarifying that the seeds are the message of the kingdom.

So, the seeds are what we want to be about. They represent being fruitful and productive in partnering with God in kingdom-building.

What chokes out the message of the kingdom in our lives? Not just the message that has been given to us, but also the message we’ve been entrusted with, the message we are incarnating in the world.

Jesus says that the weeds are the worries of this life, and the deceitfulness of wealth. One of the deceits of wealth is that it will sustain us, it will be our security and take care of us. We then believe that holding onto all the bits and pieces of our wealth is necessary for self-preservation. But this greediness can choke out the message of the kingdom that we want to bring to the world.

All of this may seem inconsequential to the pursuit of our Dream. It’s not.

Ask yourself — how is clutter holding me back from what God has for me, from the call that He has given to work alongside Him to build the kingdom?

your best next step

Dig Deeper

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Have fun with this roundup of our favorite tips, tricks, and links to the most effective decluttering advice we've found.

See the Declutter Resource

Go Further

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Identify the problems that are slowing down the progress of your God-given Dream.

See Why Am I Making Slow Progress