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Stop Clutter Shifting

Jan 21, 2024

Read time: 5 minutes

Clutter shifting can be the biggest hindrance to living with clarity.

However, many people are unaware of this habit or fail to see it from different perspectives.

So today, I want to show you how to break this hidden habit.


There are numerous reasons clutter-shifting is a popular solution:

  • It’s emotionally easier than letting go
  • Organizing has become the new procrastination
  • Creates faster (yet extremely) temporary results

These are (excuse my directness) lazy attempts to simplify. And for every one time it works, you make a larger mess for later. How short-sighted.

But I get it.

In today’s cluttered world, with overcommitted schedules and overflowing homes, we’d take any solution we can quickly implement.

However, quick doesn’t always equate to what’s best.

And that’s why I like the 3-step anti-shifting approach.

This approach will show you how to break the hidden habit of clutter shifting and ultimately declutter so you can thrive within your clutter-free life.

But first, let’s quickly discuss the two types of clutter-shifting. And I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t considered the second.

Let’s dive in.

The two types of clutter shifting

When asked to define clutter shifting, our expectation of what that looks like would be synonymous with shifting clutter from room to room.

Some may also say it’s shifting boxes from corner to corner or closet to closet.

And I agree. Clutter shifting is the habit of moving your physical clutter from one spot to another while being “organized” in your approach.

However, this is only the first of two types of clutter shifting.

The second happens internally.

It’s shifting the mental clutter you may carry by pushing it further down and away from the top of your mind.

“Maybe if I delay when I have to think about it, I won’t have to deal with it.”

As a result, you move further and further away from clarity.

The type or how much clutter you have doesn’t matter. Shifting the opportunity to deal with it to a different room or a later date and time is causing more damage than the bandaid can cover.

So, let’s take a few steps back, gather ourselves, and try a different (3-step) approach.

First step: Sorting it out

Many people look at their clutter and immediately feel overwhelmed.

They’re busy, and the thought of dealing with everything is a lot.

So, rather than taking small steps to make progress, they freeze, shift things around, and do their best to organize it so it looks somewhat presentable.

(Sound like you?)

By taking the first step to sort out your clutter, you effectively create a target you can manageably hit. Here’s how.

Sorting out physical clutter

Before moving anything anywhere else, divide the rooms/cluttered areas in your home into individual decluttering projects. Each project will be managed and completed independently of the next.

Within each project area, sort the clutter further by defining what it is, what goes together, where it belongs, if you need it, and if you’re truthfully using it.

It’s best to consider how you want a space to function in your home according to your lifestyle and core values. Having this level of clarity will help you stay focused on the vision once you’re in the thick of it and decluttering.

Sorting out mental clutter

Before shifting any mental clutter you may have down and away from the top of your mind, consider the various sources feeding this mental clutter and begin categorizing accordingly.

  • Stress from work
  • Toxic relationship
  • Limiting beliefs
  • Physical clutter
  • etc.

Once you have a solid idea of the source, you can more accurately determine the best decluttering solution.

I’ve had a ton of success with writing my way to mental clarity. But if writing isn’t your thing, don’t hesitate to find someone you trust that you can talk to. (Even if it’s a professional).

Second step: Reduce

Part of a good strategy to quit clutter shifting is to let go. In order to live with more clarity and have creative control over your life, you must declutter everything preventing you from doing so.

Will it be easy? No.

Worth it? A 1000 times yes.

Here’s how to get started.

Reduce physical clutter

My playbook for decluttering and getting results is simple.

  • Identify what you value
  • Set up an effective decluttering system
  • Reflect and learn from your experience
  • Play defense to prevent the return of clutter

You can dive into the details of this strategy here.

Reduce mental clutter

I briefly shared above that I’ve had a ton of success with writing my way to mental clarity. This is because I started early (mid-teen) and stayed consistent.

The beautiful thing about writing is that it can take the shape of many different styles.

  • Poetry (my personal experience)
  • Short stories
  • Letters unsent
  • Stream of Consciousness morning pages
  • Bullet list
  • Vision board journaling
  • Autobiographical “dear diary” writing
  • etc.

Similar to style, the medium you write in is entirely up to you as well.

  • Pen and paper
  • Digital (phone or computer)

Regardless of your style and medium, consistent practice and expression are the most important parts. Here are a few of my best tips for building a writing habit to help you reduce mental clutter.

  1. Write about where you are in life
  2. Write about what’s happening around you
  3. Use journaling prompts
  4. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude – Start with the positives
  5. Write first, edit second (or don’t) – Avoid getting hung up on spelling or grammar. This can often create friction and prevent you from expressing yourself
  6. Sit in front of the mirror and let your reflection join you as you write – Write what you feel. Write what you see, write what you value, and write what you want.

(If you want more content like this, hit reply and let me know.)

Third step: Give it a home

Decluttering your life is one thing, but enjoying your clutter-free life fully is where the real benefits lie.

Giving your physical stuff a home

After decluttering, you should be left with what you need, value, and enjoy using. And although the total number of possessions is less, it’s still critical that everything has a home and lives in its home when not in use.

This may require you to change your habits and how you use the rooms in your home. Again, consider the purpose you want that space to serve and revise that expectation if needed.

Additionally, this is the only time that “organizing” is appropriate – after the clutter is gone.

Giving your thoughts (mental) a home

The goal here is to not clutter your mind by holding onto unnecessary thinking. It’s best to leave space for organic thought to happen.

So, where’s the best place to store cluttered thinking?

On paper.

But, if I had to guess, you already knew what I would say.

See you next week.

Whenever you’re ready, here’s how I can help you:

 The Decluttering Starter Kit: Skip the overwhelm and jumpstart your decluttering journey. This comprehensive course will teach and guide you through my multi-step action plan for decluttering with less overwhelm and more progress each week. Get access here.

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