Clutter is a hot topic for a reason. It’s easy to create and not always easy to remove. That’s why episode 02 of The Positively Living Podcast is about decluttering your life using the SIMPLE™ system!
In this episode of The Positively Living Podcast, I’m sharing the impact of clutter in your life and actionable steps you can take right now to start your decluttering journey. I cover the following topics:
Clutter isn’t just what’s in your closet. It can be in your mind and heart, or your smartphone. It causes stress and costs you money. Investing in its removal is worthwhile, but do it the right way for you.
Thank you for listening! Be sure to tune in to all the episodes to receive tons of practical tips to create space for what really matters in your life.
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CONNECT WITH LISA ZAWROTNY:
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
Apps that Use the Most Data
Peter Walsh Organizing Books
Does This Clutter Make my Butt Look Fat?
Sort it Out Sundays: Small Organizing Tips that Lead to Large Rewards
The Clever Girl's Guide to Living with Less: Break Free from Your Stuff, Even When Your Head and Heart Get in the Way
Organize 365 by Lisa Woodruff
Music by Ian and Jeff Zawrotny
Lisa Zawrotny 0:00
Not unlike the weight loss industry. We are dedicating so much time and so many resources to it. And yet, it still remains it grows even homes have doubled in size since the 1950s. yet we're still overflowing. clutter is a hot topic for a reason. It's easy to create, not always easy to remove, and it has inspired discussion everywhere. You're listening to the positively living podcast. I'm your host, Lisa Rodney, founder of positively productive systems, and a coach certified in time and stress management. helping clients make space for what matters most in their lives. Join me each episode and we'll talk about decluttering stress management habits, personalized productivity, gratitude, and so much more. I understand the overwhelm of life because I'm a wife, Mom, two kids and cats, and a former caregiver. I'm here to help you choose what's right for you. So you can do less, live more, and breathe easier.
Lisa Zawrotny 1:06
Sound good? Let's get to it. When I started positively productive systems, I served my clients as a professional organizer. They were overwhelmed, they had too much stuff. And I helped them change that. I went into their homes and help them sift through it all so they could make space for what mattered in their lives. We reduced the amount they had and set up the systems and habits to help them stay organized, keep the clutter at bay, and live how they wanted to live. Almost immediately, I felt how much we needed to address the mental and emotional weight of clutter.
Lisa Zawrotny 1:45
Over the years my role with clients has shifted from on-site hands-on work to coaching the person and doing the inner work, exploring our personalities and values, understanding what drives us and how we can develop the habit That is actually the key to controlling the clutter. Now I can help clients declutter without ever entering the home or handling any of their things. I started from the outside, which will always be helpful and I definitely recommend, but discovered how much more effective working from the inside out can be. I'm ready to share those discoveries with you over many podcast episodes, but today we're talking about clutter, what it is, why it matters, and what we can do about it.
Lisa Zawrotny 2:31
Before we get into it, I think it's important to mention just how much we talk about it and try to solve the problem of clutter. More specifically, what I consider to be the crisis of clutter. Not unlike the weight loss industry. We are dedicating so much time and so many resources to it, and yet, it still remains it grows even homes have doubled in size since the 1950s yet we're still overflowing. clutter is a hot topic for a reason. It's easy to create not always easy to remove. And it has inspired discussion everywhere and a billion-dollar industry to help you conquer it.
Lisa Zawrotny 3:11
Every January, you can't escape the posts. The memes are everywhere. Search amazon books with the keyword clutter, and you'll get over 4000 options. And the National Association of productivity and organizing professionals, whom I've been a member of since I began my business has almost as many members all in the industry to help you break free from your clutter. There were shows like mission organization and clean sweep which was one of my favorites that showed us the behind-the-scenes of being a professional organizer and popularized organizing 80s hoarders and then later variations like hoarding buried alive were a cautionary tale. Every time I watched them, I felt the need to go declutter something. I know I can't be the only one. Marie Kondo is a household name for those searching for help with decluttering and she's nearly one in that 4000 plus category of books I mentioned. So many titles have the words less and free, and it reminds us of the weight of clutter.
Lisa Zawrotny 4:17
Organizer, Peter Walsh, who has inspired me since the beginning with his book it's all too much and is best known for being on the show Clean Sweep has identified the connection aptly with his book. Does this clutter make my butt look fat? needless to say, it's one of my favorite recommendations. I'll add that Joshua Becker's the more or less is a great read if you are exploring minimalism, and Greg McEwen, essentialism was a game-changer for me, taking the idea of decluttering far beyond bins and baskets. Since we're talking industry experts, I'd be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to organizers I know personally who have written helpful books. There's at least Woodruff's organized 365 collections of books and a podcast packed with lots of how-tos. Kathy Bynes, aka clever girl is a fellow NATO member and author of the clever girls' guide to living with less. At the time of this recording, it was available with Kindle unlimited if you want to check it out. And my friend James Lott Jr, a fellow NATO member, life coach and podcaster, and honestly a veritable renaissance man with albums and books and show hosting under his belt. He's written sorted out Sunday's small organizing tips that lead to great rewards. It's on Amazon to last year I was on his podcast, the super organizer show talking about positivity in coaching and organizing. And I'm excited to tell you that he's already said yes to joining me on the positively living podcast. So we'll have a fun and very likely deep conversation about all of this Be sure to watch for that episode. And don't worry if you're driving or if you don't have a chance to jot down any of these references. I'll be sure to link to the books, organizers, and the podcast episode I just mentioned in the show notes.
Lisa Zawrotny 6:14
Now let's talk clutter. What is it? And why does it matter? When you're trying to deal with something, whether working with it, changing it, reducing it, you need to identify it first. So let's go back to Peter Walsh for a moment. He has a quote about the clutter that I have carried with me for years and mention it every chance I get. He says clutter isn't just the stuff on the floor. It's anything that gets in between you and the life you want to live. With that in mind, let's talk about types of clutter. I believe there are five general categories of clutter that overlap and I've created a graphic to illustrate this. It's like a modified compound Venn diagram if there is such a thing. If there is that's what it is. If there isn't I've created it. And I promised you in the podcast trailer that Venn diagrams were one of my favorite things. So this shouldn't come as a surprise. So the diagram, which you can find on my social media pages, shows how they're connected. I'll be sure to link to that as well. The five categories are physical, mental, digital, information, and tasks. Let's start with the physical. It's the most obvious you know what I mean by physical clutter. It's the kind you can see that you live around or it lives around you. It's what you trip over what you shoved to the side or you move to the side to make room for it's tangible and specific. And this physical clutter, it costs us dearly. 25% of Americans have a two-car garage but can't park their car in it. Nearly 10% of US households rent outside storage at an average of $1,000 per year and That's just the average 80% of the papers we have, we don't look at, then there's digital clutter. Unlike clutter in the physical world where stacks paper books, clothing can be seen. with digital clutter, there are no obvious outward signs that could indicate a problem.
Lisa Zawrotny 8:19
Even when we see numbers, the notifications on our email that are in the thousands, it doesn't register. And this makes digital clutter even more insidious than physical clutter in my opinion. on computers, at least 30% of installed applications are never used. And 80% of smartphone users do not use the apps they've downloaded after three months. So they're just collecting them without use 28% of our work time is spent reading email, which translates to 650 hours a year spent on reactive work that's not even really work. Then There's the mental clutter. I don't have statistics in the same way that I do for the physical and the digital. But there's no doubt that it causes stress. It's those I should say, and I'm supposed to use and I need to thoughts that take up so much space in your mind. It causes you to hold on to physical clutter because you're scared to put something out of sight for fear of forgetting it. Does that sound familiar? Yeah, it reminds you of incomplete tasks, triggering shame and guilt. It allows worry and these inaccurate stories to hold precious brain space, undermining your energy and your ability to take action. Whatever the type of clutter in general, clutter overwhelms and distracts signals, unfinished work, triggers guilt, reduces productivity, blocks, self-care, and healthy habits and it promotes dissatisfaction. Now, let's talk about What causes it? I believe that deferred decisions, incomplete tasks, loops, mismanaged consumption, and emotions are at the root of clutter. Let's start with deferred decisions. And you may have even heard this phrase before. It simply means that we're putting off making choices. And when we do things pile up, when we're unsure, we leave items where they are, and eventually, it starts to stack.
Lisa Zawrotny 10:29
One example would be a piece of mail comes in, you open it, you take a look, you need to make some decision. Am I going to purchase this product? Am I going to write back? Am I going to attend this event? Am I going to show this to my husband? If you don't decide then in there, what do you end up doing with it? Setting it back down on the counter or the kitchen table or the coffee table or wherever it is that you've been sorting through the mail and very little stay there. And then more and more, add to the group. For some reason, it likes to multiply, then defers decisions also apply to sentimental items. And I know how tricky that can be. You feel a sense of obligation and sometimes a sense of guilt surrounding these things. And it's hard to make the choice. So when it's hard to make the choice, you don't, and you keep collecting the items. The second one I mentioned was incomplete task loops.
Lisa Zawrotny 11:31
And what I mean by that is, when you don't put things away, essentially, One example would be you have dishes, you use them for a meal, you wash them, you put them away. That is one full task loop. I'm not saying I do that all the time. I'm just saying that's an example. And that is something we need to keep completing. But oftentimes we are distracted. We are tired We have energy issues with getting this done. And we don't complete the loop and things pile up. And other clutter that we have, can sometimes make closing the loop more difficult when it's not as easy to put something away. What happens, we don't put it away, and the clutter keeps piling up. The third one is mismanaged consumption. That's just a fancy way to say that we keep buying things that we already have because we can't find them. clutter makes it hard to find things. So it encourages us to buy something, even though we know we have it somewhere.
Lisa Zawrotny 12:36
Believe me, I'm guilty of this. When you're dealing with small items, it can seem really innocuous, but it adds up. And last but definitely not least is emotions. fear, anger, and grief are the big players here. And they play a different role in the decision you're making or not making fear might be because you are afraid you might need something Then there's the fear of loss of income, which is something that I think a number of people are feeling right now. If you're concerned that you might lose your job, you don't want to let go of things that you might consider to be a value. Then there's anger, which I think really connects to resentment. There can be relationship issues and clutter. keeping things that build up and create clutter could be a form of protection, or maybe a message that you're sending. And many times I think anger is actually this third category, which is grief. Grief is it's one of the most powerful feelings we have. And I think that we experience is far more than we realize. loss can make us do so many things. We keep things which can become clutter, to remind us of certain times to remind us of certain people And not just other people, our past selves. Sometimes what we keep can be a reminder of who we are and is so connected to our identity, that it can be difficult to let go. What can you do about the clutter? Seeing it clearly is the first step, we can become desensitized to clutter in our lives, or at the very least resigned to it. Deciding to do something about it and committing to it can sometimes be the hardest part. So if you do nothing else today, I encourage you to decide what to declutter and when. If you'd like help doing this, head to my website, positively productive calm, and request my free declutter and distress workbook.
Lisa Zawrotny 14:48
I've included my custom six-step system to help you declutter in a way that works for you. I'll quickly outline the steps now and cover them in more detail in another Episode, The six steps spell out the word simple, set, identify, match, pair, limit, and evaluate.
Lisa Zawrotny 15:09
Set is to set yourself up for success, schedule, set goals, track your progress, ask for help.
Lisa Zawrotny 15:16
I is for identity, you want to create a filter for your decisions, you're identifying how you want to live, who you want to be, what purpose space has. You want to create a guideline for what belongs and what doesn't.
Lisa Zawrotny 15:30
M is for match. You want to match things together by category to see the big picture. When you capture all the items you have in a category for sorting, which professional organizers will say like with like, that's an easy way to remember it. It allows you to properly compare and make decisions.
Lisa Zawrotny 15:51
P is prepared as a pared-down. This is when you use your filters to reduce what you have. you're removing items that don't fit Either your categories that you want to keep or don't fit you or your life right now.
Lisa Zawrotny 16:07
L is for limit, which sounds similar, but actually it has to do more with the container. The size of your storage space controls how much you keep, regardless of what your filter, say in terms of what you have, you are also limited by the size of your space.
Lisa Zawrotny 16:24
E is for evaluating, you're evaluating what worked and what didn't, and also what comes in. Because as you declutter, life goes on, and things will still come at you, and you want to prevent the clutter as much as possible. So this is actually a cyclical process.
Lisa Zawrotny 16:43
Once you get to evaluate, you're considering what comes in, and you're also going to go through these steps again. You can find all of this in my free workbook on my website if you'd like a visual guide to help you along. Your takeaways for today. clutter isn't just what's in your closet. It can be in your mind and heart on your smartphone. It causes stress and it costs you money. Investing in its removal is definitely worthwhile. But do it the right way for you.
Lisa Zawrotny 17:19
What I know for sure is that when you declutter, whether it's on your home, your head or your heart, it is astounding will flow into that space that will enrich you your life and your family. Peter Walsh thank you for joining me on the positively living podcast. Your time is precious and I'm honored you chose to spend it with me. If you'd like more information on today's show, you can find a link to the show notes on positively productive comm slash podcast. If you found value in the show, please click subscribe and even better give a quick review on iTunes. It supports me and will help others find On the show. If you'd like more positive content, come join me on social media, positively productive on Facebook, and positively underscore Lisa on Instagram. Get ready for kids, cats, and all my quirky humor over there. I look forward to having you join me next episode. Until then keep it positive and keep making space for what matters most
Transcribed by https://otter.ai