Uncluttering your life

From Gender and Tech Resources

Are you working flat out just to stay afloat, and not getting anything "important" done? Does it seem like there aren't enough hours in the day? Is your trash can full? Do you feel overwhelmed? No time to spare? No time to unwind?

Determine the cause. It could be (too) busy schedules getting in the way, temporary overload as an effect of changes, lack of motivation (what was labeled "important" may not be that important to you), not being able to let go of stuff (for various reasons), or it could be a lack of know-how in organisational skills. People in IT are usually overorganised down to the nitty gritty details, and that can be a clutter cause as well: over-organisation and super-rationality.

Case study: Uncluttering your life

There is so much written about cluttering and uncluttering [1], some of it may be useful for you, some of it may not. Just use what you need. Here I describe three steps for uncluttering in highly generalised form that worked for me, and afaik for many others as well.


  • Step 1 Make a decision to unclutter your life

Once you decide you have had enough of mental clutter [2][3], you can

  • Step 2 Start somewhere

It doesn't really matter with what, just as long as you do.

When learning something mechanical, like driving a car or changing a rule, at first you have to pay attention to the details of shifting gear, until you no longer have to. That happens when your body "knows". But it only "knows" for that (type) of car or gear shift. When driving another car, shifting gear may need your attention again. This is like that. For a while, monitor what happens closely in health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution dimensions, and make changes until you no longer have to.

  • Step 3 "Enough!"

Build a practice of removing yourself from any and all contexts that attempt to add to your clutter. Saying "no" can be a terribly good thing.

  • Step 3 Dealing with the past and others

Something happens. Trace what just happened and what might be related, what you ate, who you met, what was seen, heard, read, smelled, what meanings you made (and what other possible meanings can be made) and meanings about meanings made, what significance you assigned to the meanings made, and practice (other) responses in a safe setting, or the next time the situation seems to reoccur. And don't be hard on yourself when you do not do what you have set as intent for a "next time". All that slack and understanding you gave others because you think it's okay to make mistakes? Give it to yourself now.

People from your past may reappear and may attempt to unjustly write karma in your book. Investigate and pull out the plank again if need be!

Some good questions to ask when people seem to try to write karma in your book may be: Is what happened then relevant now? Was it even that serious? Was that situation even in my control? Does what I heard that person just say actually have any validity or are they just trolling me to get me to react in for them familiar and comfortable ways?


Focus on your priorities, make efficient use of your time on this planet, choose a design for your life that allows for relaxing and replenishment, and make it so.


[1] 27 Great Tips to Keep Your Life Organized http://zenhabits.net/27-great-tips-to-keep-your-life-organized/

[2] The Single Principle You Need to Clean Out the Mind Clutter for Good http://www.becomingminimalist.com/declutter-your-mind/

[3] Clutter Clearing Anxiety http://www.fengshuivermont.com/pubart/five.html