man working in clutter

What is Cluttering Up Your Life?

Kitty Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT

Career Transition & Job Search Coach

I have a confession to make. I am a bit of a neat freak. I hate clutter, although I admit that on occasion, the bookshelf beside my desk looks a lot like the bookshelf in the photo above. My tolerance for clutter is pretty low, however. If the bookshelf stays like that for long, I start to feel blocked and unproductive, so I have to clean it up. I have to keep buying bookshelves as a result, but at least I then have a place to put my many books.

I have a friend who isn't a neat freak. On occasion, I have visited her for the weekend and come home to a do-top-to bottom cleaning of my house because the clutter at her house got to me. 

I know where I got this trait. My mother was the ultimate neat freak. My father used to complain that you dare not leave anything lying around for longer than five minutes for fear of it disappearing. And he wasn't wrong. Things had a way of just vanishing into think air, and the reason was my mom had swooped in and either tossed it because it didn't seem valuable to her, or she had put it in a drawer somewhere, out of sight. 

Her closets were the ultimate in neatness, too. Everything she owned was kept meticulously organized. When my sister and brother and I started going through her things after she died, we remarked on the fact that she kept her shoes in the original shoe boxes. I don't know how she remembered what she had. 

I am not that bad (I don't think) and sometimes, I let things get away from me, but not for long. During the holiday break, I took a few days to organize closets and drawers, and I took a ton of things go Good Will so someone else could benefit from them. I don't have a lot of things to which I am emotionally attached like I know some people do. But there are some things, of course, that I would have trouble parting with.

In my work, I am a collector of files that I always think I am going to use later but I rarely do. As a result, I have to do a periodic purge of my desk so that I can clear space, and then I can think more clearly.

I have a friend/colleague whose business is centered on helping people organize their lives by cleaning out and organizing their attics, their basements, their garages, their closets, or their offices...or any combination. She told me she works with the infrequent hoarder, and in those instances, she is usually hired by a family member who is trying to help a loved one part with stuff they don't need even though they have convinced themselves they do.

Most of us have some area of our lives which may have gotten cluttered over time. Sometimes instead of closets, it's relationships. Have you ever considered that on occasion you need to cut some people loose because you have grown apart and hanging on to one another is counter productive to your happiness? That sometimes even happens with marriages.

The point is that whether you are someone who can tolerate a lot of clutter or only a little, for most of us there is an appropriate time to do a little purging. Stuff you don't need just slows you down. If you don't believe me, spend a Saturday getting rid of all the stuff you haven't used in the last five years. That includes the boxes that are still unpacked in your garage or basement. If you haven't used it in five years, you don't need it but someone else might.

When you are done with the cleaning, sit back and consider how much physically lighter you feel. Karen Kingston, author of Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui has said, "Never underestimate the effect of clutter on your life." It is possible to feel claustrophobic in your own home and to feel physically weighed down with stuff. Talane Miedaner, author of Coach Yourself to Success says, "Less stuff equals more energy for you." If you don't believe it, spend a weekend soon getting rid of the stuff you haven't used for awhile. If you don't want to throw it away, take it to Good Will or the Salvation Army or your local church. But get it out of your house. Rid yourself of it physically to feel the benefits psychically. It works...every time.

So, I ask you again, what is cluttering up your life? Isn't it time to get rid of it? What are you waiting for?

Until next time.



Remember when I offered the FREE webinar last month, "LinkedIn for Beginners?" It was a big hit, and the comments were gratifying. Even people who think they know a lot about LinkedIn generally learn at least one new thing from this presentation.

Well, I have recorded and for a limited time, it is being offered as an evergreen webinar which means it is playing automatically several times a day. To register, use this link:

If you know someone who could use some basic instruction on how to create a rock-star LinkedIn profile, feel free to share the link. I don't know how long I will leave this up, but I thought you might be interested in it, so here it is:

Vanessa Jackson
Phoenix Rising Coaching
1541 Flaming Oak
New Braunfels Texas 78132
United States of America