What does the word ‘clutter’ bring to your mind?
Mess. Disorganised stuff. Things not where they should be. Too much. Too many. Unwanted. Not needed. Old. No longer required. Waiting to be sorted.
How cluttered is your life right now?
Clutter is Friction
Clutter is stuff we see, hear, smell, and touch. But it’s also something we feel inside us. And it’s defined by the friction it creates, which makes it harder for us to do what we need to do.
If you need to do paperwork and you sit down at a cluttered desk, you have to wade through the clutter to get to the materials you need. The clutter is friction because it demands extra energy to get through it.
Origin: “to collect in heaps, crowd together in disorder,” variant of clotern “to form clots, to heap on” (clot (forming a coagulated mass) – and cluster – (things naturally gathering or growing together)
There are a few key elements: collecting, disorder, forming something out of itself, naturally growing.
Clutter builds when we’re not in the driving seat. It’s the byproduct of not having filters and boundaries. Being unaware of what is coming in, and unintentional about processing.
This episode is not about physical stuff as much as it is about all the other clutter that clusters and builds in and around our lives. The things that we collect without realising, that can cause overwhelm and fatigue. Especially for introverts and sensitive types.
If we’re going to be effective Gentle Rebels then we need to grow our self-awareness around clutter. And build some tools and rituals into our lives to get stuff shifted before it becomes cluttersome.
Catalysts and Inhibitors
A catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change. When we apply this to life, we can think of a book, a mentor, or an inspiring talk as a catalyst. It can increase the rate of a reaction in us by inspiring us to action, without itself undergoing any change. The book doesn’t change, but we do. The talk doesn’t change, but we do. A mentor doesn’t change, we do.
Clutter and its ensuing friction act in the opposite way. It is an inhibitor because it slows down our ability to act in the required way, but the clutter doesn’t change in the process.
For example, if you receive some criticism from someone and it sits with you in a negative way, this might go home with you. You might take it out on the kids. You might procrastinate on your important tasks. And you might even give up on the thing you’re so passionate about. The clutter (critic and criticism) doesn’t change, but you do. And the clutter becomes an inhibitor, stopping you from doing what you really want to do.
The clutter of financial worry is not removed by doing something to distract ourselves from it. It’s removed when we address the underlying causes and tackle it head on so that we can make a plan going forward that will free us from the friction of it being clutter.
Acquisition Without Awareness
In this sense, clutter is unprocessed mess. We know it’s there but we don’t necessarily know what it is. It’s a cluster, a collection, a mass of stuff that clots our mind.
Have you ever felt weighed down and moody for no apparent reason? Only to realise after some reflection, it’s because someone spoke to you rudely in a shop this morning.
Cluttering is the act of acquiring without awareness. And if we don’t raise our awareness we can find ourselves inhibited from living life in the best way we can.
In this episode we explore a few sources of clutter:
- The Moods of Other People
- Unsolicited Criticism
- Digital Noise
- Open Loops
- Beliefs (that don’t belong to you)
And we will think about ways to start processing this clutter straight away.
Listen to The Gentle Rebel (Extended Play) Private Podcast:
If you like this topic and want to hear more of my (more personal) thoughts and reflections, you can subscribe to the bonus podcast right now, through Patreon