“Clutter: 1: (Verb) To fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness -- often used with up; 2: (Noun) a crowded or confused mass or collection; things that clutter a place”. ~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Just as I suspected, Webster’s Dictionary defines clutter as something that can literally hold you back . I define clutter as anything I don’t use/ love/ need/ want any more. This can apply to people as easily as it applies to that stack of last year’s magazines, that bin of dried up magic markers, or that pile of junk I’ve been meaning to donate to Goodwill Industries. It can also apply to outmoded ways of thinking as well as outmoded styles of clothing. Clutter ---and its negative impact--- is everywhere!

Many books and companies have sprung up over recent years to help us deal with the problem. Clutter-busting has become a multimillion dollar industry fueled by Feng Shui consultants advising their clients to get rid of it. There’s even a form of mental illness that involves clutter. It’s called ”Hoarding”. Not your everyday ordinary “pack-rat”, hoarders tend to have specific clutter issues and some even collect animals. Every once in awhile there’s a story in the news about a lady with 99 cats or a couple living in a tiny apartment with newspapers stacked so high they have carved “tunnels” to walk around them. Hoarding is considered a serious pathological disorder and requires professional treatment. Now that I’ve got you sitting at your cluttered desk glancing over your shoulder for the guys with the straight jackets, let’s find out why we keep on holdin’ on to stuff.

When we’re living in a perpetual state of clutter, it may indicate that we haven’t got a technical filing / storage system in place to deal with the problem. But chances are there is a deeper underlying issue behind our refusal to let go of the clutter. Julie Morgenstern, author of ‘Organizing From The Inside Out’ says, “I guarantee that you’ve got some psychological stake in the process---needs that make you gravitate toward disorganization, no matter how much you may crave control.” Once we identify what our stake is, we’ve taken the first step towards rehabilitating our addiction to clutter.

BLOCKING FEELINGS. We are afraid. We have a fear or success in both our work and our private lives. Afraid of success, what better way to block it than to live and work in a chaotic environment? We have no time for a relationship if we’re too busy buried under a mountain of paperwork.

REASONS TO HIDE. We have a perfect excuse to put off an important client meeting if our office is a mess. This goes back to fear of success. At home, if our guest room is filled with clutter or our kitchen is a mess, we can avoid company.

CRISIS ADDICT. Some of us like to live from crisis to crisis, thriving on a challenge and creating our own obstacle course. We stack up mountains of clutter to make our goals of success harder to get to. We might be in a constant search for a better way to clean up the clutter (and in this constant search, we never actually take the time to deal with the clutter).

ABUNDANCE IS MINE. We might hold onto our piles of clutter because we are afraid that we may never have any more stuff than we do today. This need to hold on can be traced back to childhood if we were deprived of material things, love, and attention. Being surrounded by an abundance of things can give us a feeling of safety and comfort. It’s okay to have a lot--but it’s not okay if it is cluttering up (impeding movement and reducing effectiveness!) your life. Get rid of the things you don’t absolutely love.

FORMER SELF. With a closet filled with torn rock ‘n’ roll t-shirts and jeans that are two --okay, three-- sizes too small, we may be hanging on to who we used to be. Memories are great, but not if they keep you from being who you are now. We all carry the best of who we once were inside of us. By removing this type of clutter, we make room for new life and our new identity which should not be stuck in a time warp.

PEOPLE PLEASING. We hang on to people, too. We may go for quantity instead of quality in our friendships. Or, we may hold on to people from certain times of our lives even though we have nothing in common with them any more. When the relationship has gone stale and become negatively charged, it is impeding our movement and reducing our effectiveness. Q: What is that called? A: Clutter!


1) Take an inventory of where you have clutter in your life. Examine your immediate work space, your home space, your car, your friendships. Assess the size of the clean up job and schedule time to handle it accordingly.

2) Start with baby steps. Remember, dealing with clutter is often overwhelming because it brings up painful emotions related to our psychological attachment to the clutter. If you’ve got clutter all over your home or office, start with one small area and clean that up first.

3) Pace yourself so that you don’t get burned out on letting go. Set small goals of one file at a time. Set a time goal of one to two hours per day to clear up the clutter until you’ve got it under control. Thereafter, you should be able to manage it with less than ten to fifteen minutes per day.

4) Fade away. If you’ve got a group of friends that are a negative influence on your life, remove yourself gradually from the group by seeing them less and less over a period of time. Surround yourself with positive people and experiences. Often the people we’ve outgrown will just naturally drop out of our lives once we’ve claimed our authentic selves.

5) Reward yourself for embracing your clutter-free self and removing the blocks to your success. Get a manicure, go to a movie, buy yourself a lottery ticket!

Author's Bio: 

Katy Allgeyer (a.k.a. Fishgirl) has twenty+ years of Feng Shui expertise, which she blends with her highly developed intuitive ability, metaphysical shamanic healing methods, and formal art and design training that make her uniquely qualified to help people realign their environment to support their full potential.