Clutter in your home, office or schedule comes in many forms. In this case, I’m not talking about excess stuff in your space or outdoors. I’m talking about causes of clutter from external and internal sources. Wait! Don’t stop reading yet. This article spotlights two important components of our Flexible Structure Method™. Our proprietary method guarantees results around organizing that matter to our clients’ life and lifestyle. Don’t you want to get out of stuff or schedule overwhelm?

Manage Outside Clutter. External clutter is the stuff in your space and in your face. It can only be managed when you decrease or eliminate the source of clutter. Categories of outside clutter include
•Homeless Items
•Limitations of skill set or space
•Influences from society, culture, situations and people

Minimize Inside Clutter. Internal clutter happens in your head. It can only be minimized when you are able to quiet the brain chatter. Examples of inside clutter include
•Fears such as needing an item after it’s been deleted or losing control
•Lack of clarity
•Challenges related to learning, mental health, psychological issues, physical situations or biomedical diagnoses
•Needs such as being perfect or a people-pleaser

Home Example: When your family comes through the door coats, backpacks, purses and briefcases land on the floor in a heap making it hard to find anything that evening and creating chaos when leaving the next morning. You manage outside clutter by creating specific places for each item so you don’t have any homeless items. This may include adding hooks or labels. You may also need to develop meaningful habits (previously discussed component) . You minimize inside clutter by convincing yourself to store the stuff right away rather than listening to the voice that says “I’m hungry, I’ll put it away after I have a snack.”

Office Example: Your work tasks come from in variety of ways: paper, email, phone, etc. Messages are on pieces of paper scattered around the desk and your inbox is so full that tech support keeps telling you to delete some emails. Manage outside clutter by having places to put tasks (instead of leaving them homeless). This might be a paper calendar or electronic planner. It could be a task list or an appointment that you set. You might learn how to delegate more effectively. Minimize inside clutter by counteracting your perfectionist nature and work toward task completion rather than perfection. Also, make sure you are clear on each task so you aren’t afraid that you’ll do something incorrectly.

Schedule Example: Personal and work activities keep you on the go all the time. Whenever you turn around, someone is asking for even more of your time. Eliminating homeless tasks by giving them appointments in your calendar (even if you have to schedule time with yourself to complete them) will help manage outside clutter. Developing a standard phrase to say “no” will help minimize inside clutter. The people-pleaser in you needs to be prepared to immediately say “no” so that it doesn’t automatically agree to a new activity.

Ask yourself empowering questions to help manage outside clutter and minimize inside clutter:
•What is the top source of outside clutter? How can I decrease or eliminate this source? Homeless items and lack of space or skill will be easier to handle than influences from various sources. Often you must minimize inside clutter to reduce societal, cultural, situational or people-related outside clutter.

•What sources of outside clutter are within your control? Don’t waste time trying to manage outside clutter that is not in your control. Concentrate on what you can change.
•What does your most persistent inner voice say? What can you do or say to counteract that voice? You can talk back to it, give yourself permission to proceed according to your plan, make a statement to the voice or challenge it.
•Which inner voice might require the support of someone else? A friend, coach or therapist may help provide an alternative perspective to your brain chatter.

The most effective way to work with outside and inside clutter is to identify the most prominent problems and work to influence them in a positive manner. Start with small steps and add other skills as you feel more confident.

Author's Bio: 

© 2012 Janice Russell. Developer of the Flexible Structure Method™, Janice and her team at Minding Your Matters® has an impressive reputation for helping clients achieve “flow”. “Flow” as Janice calls it, is the blissful state of having an organizational process that supports your life and lifestyle. A Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, Janice is also a Certified Organizer Coach and the author of “Get Organized This Year!”. Janice’s practical and caring approach to organizing is the basis of her high-content live workshops and webinars. Janice is a Golden Circle Member of National Association of Professional Organizers and Program Mentor Coach for the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. She serves the organizational needs and challenges of both business and residential clients, as well as provides training intensives for fellow organizers nationwide. To enjoy meaningful tips and gain immediate access to all of Janice valuable resources, please visit her website at To schedule a consultation or request Janice to speak please call 919-467-7058.

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