How to Stop Accumulating Clutter in Your Life and Mind

How to Stop Accumulating Clutter in Your Life and Mind

Most people don’t set out in life to have too many physical possessions or to have a lot of clutter in their lives. They mostly start out like anyone else. They move into their place with the best of intentions, and then life just seems to fly by without any notice. Before you know it, you can end up living in a cluttered mess, and later in life, you may have clutter that you need to downsize.

How to Stop Accumulating Physical Clutter

One of the most destructive things the average person has affecting their lives is clutter. Many people are so stressed and anxious about their living situation that they have difficulty focusing on family, friends, and work.

Thankfully, you can stop accumulating physical clutter. You can stop by first eliminating your clutter and then developing habits that help you stop accumulating the physical clutter by setting up a structure in your life that addresses your tendency to get cluttered.

Assess Your Stuff

The very first thing you need to do is look at all your stuff. One way to do this, and something I’ve done, is to go into any room you want to tackle and dump everything in a pile. You may know this as the first step of Marie Kondo’s book and show, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Whether you do it this way or not depends on your personality.

You may want to try clearing one item of furniture each day. For example, today, you may want to tackle your dresser in your master bedroom. Tomorrow, you’ll pick the chest of drawers and move through the Master until you’ve finished accessing the stuff you have.

Trash, Sell, Give Away, Keep

As you review your stuff, you’ll want to note if you wish to trash, sell, give away, or keep the items. Most people use trash bags or labeled boxes. Having four boxes is the best way to go about it. That way, at first, you’re only organizing. Put trash in the trash box, stuff you can sell in the sell box, and so forth.

You don’t have to fold, clean, or organize anything other than doing this one task when first going through the room you want to get organized. The reason you need to eliminate clutter, to stop bringing in clutter, is to get honest with yourself and your situation. If you ignore the clutter around you and try to stop bringing the clutter back in, it won’t work. This is because you already have too much clutter.

Organize the Stuff You Want to Keep

When you’re finished and have the keep box ready to go through, you can organize the stuff you want to keep. Try a new method of folding, like the packet method. It makes it easier to see your items in a drawer and prevents them from falling apart when rummaging through the drawers to pick the right thing.

Using dividers, little boxes, and other ways to organize your things will also help you keep them organized after doing all the work. Just like a flatware divider in the kitchen helps, a jewelry box, with slots and compartments to put different types of jewelry. Likewise, a shoe rack can organize your shoes, and a tie rack can hold your ties or scarves. Tip: Don’t buy something to help the organization until you know precisely what you want and how you’ll use it.

Create Sanctuary Spaces at Home

As you go through each room, take note of the things that you want to go to the room to make it more comfortable plus easier to keep organized. When your home looks nice, is comfortable, and everything works the way it should, you’re more likely to want to keep it that way.

Consider your bedroom. What would your bedroom look like if you designed it? What type of bed would you have? What kind of bedding would you choose? Would you have a chair with a reading nook? Think of each room and space regarding what you want to do there.

Put Stuff Away When Done

You’ve heard it before, but when you get things out, put them away when you’re done. This is much easier to do if you have a place for everything. Create homes for everything from your nail file to your underwear. If you own it, it should have a home and a place to be. This is something I’ve implemented into my life. It’s easy to think I’ll put it away later, but that leads to procrastination and then a whole other topic.

Moreover, the place you choose to put the thing needs to be helpful. For example, in the kitchen, if you drink coffee or other hot beverages using makers to do it, consider setting up a little coffee or beverage area. This allows them to be easily accessed and neatly organized.

Use Junk Baskets, Not Drawers

Clutter can accumulate without you even realizing it. It builds up when you’re busy, and before you know it, you must do a deep clean again. You can keep the clutter down by not bringing more back in but also finding the best way to deal with daily clutter. One solution that works well is using color-coded junk baskets for each room and family member.

If you see something that doesn’t belong in the room, put it in the basket. The home’s occupants should know to check their boxes frequently for stray items. If you have a two-story house, you may want to get two sets of baskets. An excellent place to keep them is the entryway or the laundry room.

Implement Buying Rules

You probably thought that you didn’t need any rules once you were an adult. However, the best thing you can do for yourself is to set standards for yourself in all situations, especially when it comes to accumulating clutter around yourself.

Implement the rule that you must remove two things from your environment when bringing one thing in. You can add other rules, such as if it’s clothing, it must be a needed item because the other one is not wearable now. If it’s a household item, it must have a reason for existing and not just become another dust collector.

Get Help from a Professional

Sometimes, a person with no experience in organizing or clearing clutter needs to hire a professional. If you try to get it under control and find it too emotionally draining for you, consider finding a professional organizer who will come to your space with their team and help you accomplish your goals. Another person to consider hiring is a life coach specializing in assisting people in organizing themselves.

Don’t ever be afraid of outsourcing something you don’t want to do. If your home is cluttered primarily due to the fact you hate cleaning and organizing and don’t want to do it even if it will make your life better and you can afford to, hire someone to do it all for you. For many of us, we can keep an area organized if someone else sets it up correctly. You know your personality better and which method will work best for you. If that’s not affordable, then what about asking an organized friend for help.

If you want to stop accumulating physical clutter, you must first eliminate the clutter you can from your life. You must commit to yourself and others that you won’t bring more clutter back into the environment. Thankfully, if you get it organized well, it feels so good mentally, physically, spiritually, and financially that you don’t usually want to return.

Stop Accumulating Mental Clutter

If you want to live a happy, successful life of satisfaction, the best thing you can do for yourself is to recognize and eliminate accumulating mental clutter. Mental clutter is often negative thoughts and actions that lead to self-talk that is not helpful. Thoughts of “I’m lazy,” “I’m worthless,” or “I can’t” can be let go of if you accept it and are mindful about it.

Think Differently

Easier said than done; changing around your thinking will help a lot with combatting mental clutter. For example, you may want to trigger your brain to think differently by asking yourself a few questions about any situation.

Questions like, “Is this important?” “Can I fix it, change it, or control it?” When you get honest about what you really do have control over and what you don’t have control over, you’ll be able to tackle it with a clear mind.

When you think of something disturbing or negative, it’s essential to know how to turn your thought patterns around by using planned methods, such as taking a deep breath, repeating affirmations, or writing in your gratitude journal. Whatever it takes to turn those thoughts around and stop having them is something you should consider doing.

Clean the Clutter

Of course, you really do need to clear the physical clutter around you to deal better with your mental clutter. You don’t know how much of your mental clutter is caused by what is around you physically until you eliminate it.

Scientific studies show that clutter causes anxiety. It’s not anxiety that causes clutter but the reverse. When you realize that fact, you see how important it is to clean up. 

Stop Being a People Pleaser

A hard fact of life is that you’re never going to please everyone all the time, least of all yourself. When you make choices, you must balance what you want to do with what you need to do. You also need to know the difference between needs and desires to make better choices.

One thing you cannot use to make any decision is what other people think. You don’t have to please everyone. You don’t need to be worried about how disappointed they are when you say no. The reason you don’t is that you have a right to live your own life in the way that you want to.

Get Rid of Distractions

When you are doing one task, focus only on that task. Turn off the notifications on your phone, and only listen to music if it motivates or inspires you. The neatest thing happens when you focus on something without distractions. At first, your mind may wander, but eventually, it will settle into the activity you’re doing if you just keep doing it.

If you have a hard time focusing, even when you have de-cluttered your physical environment, you may want to try mindful meditation before a particular activity or task. If this doesn’t help, consider talking to your doctor about it. You may have an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

Meditate and Or Pray

Actively focusing on quieting your mind is an essential part of your day if you want to stop accumulating and dwelling on mental clutter. Doing this can also help you take control of your thoughts at a moment’s notice. With daily practice, you’ll get much better at quieting your mind and focusing on the task at hand.

In addition, giving yourself that time will help you reenergize and give you mental clarity to avoid mental clutter in your life. When other people are being brought down by drama, you’re happily ignoring it and not giving it a thought since it’s not something you can add value to.

Use Your Calendar

One thing that can cause mental clutter is forgetting things. Instead of risking forgetting something, write down everything you promise to do (whether to someone else or yourself) in a calendar. Be sure to block off enough time to get ready for it, get to it, enjoy it, and leave it and decompress from “it,” whatever it is.

If you write down your personal commitments first, it can cut down on problems you have reaching deadlines and goals. Train yourself to check your calendar morning and evening before committing to something new.

Make Lists

The calendar is a great place to keep your lists. Starting a list on paper or a note on your smartphone is a good idea. However, always transfer that to-do list to a specific date and time on your calendar.

When you do things on the list, mark the items off that you complete. This is going to make you feel accomplished each day and reduce mental clutter by helping you avoid procrastination, stress, or worry that you’ll miss a deadline. Plus, having a realistic idea of what you need to do during any given day or time helps you know whether to say yes or no to a request or idea that you have.

Stop Multitasking

One of the worst things that has happened to humans is thinking that they can multitask. Study after study shows that even among the smartest people, no one can really multitask. It’s impossible for your brain to focus on two things at once. You may think you are, but you’re not giving it your all when you’re not focused.

Give it a try on your own sometimes, and turn off the TV when you read, and turn off your phone when you are trying to learn something. Turn off everything when you’re preparing dinner. When you are working on a task, only do that task until you’re done. After a few weeks, evaluate how you think it’s going. You’re probably a lot more productive.

Organize Right Away

When you mess up a space, clean it up and organize it right away. Leaving it will give your mind time to focus on why you’re not doing it, and you won’t be able to focus on what you think you want to do instead. When you clean up after yourself right away, it reduces stress and mental clutter by helping you feel productive instead of lazy. No one wants to clean the dishes after dinner.

No one wants to clean up after game night. No one really wants to do anything to do with cleaning (for the most part), but it’s something everyone has to do or pay someone to do for them. A weird thing happens when you do it, though. You feel good. Give yourself every opportunity to feel good like that.

Done is Good Enough

One thing that causes mind clutter is feeling as if nothing you do is good enough. Even if you’re organized, you might procrastinate yourself back to being unorganized if you think It’s not good enough. The mental clutter that you may not realize in this situation is all-or-nothing thinking. “If it’s not perfect, why bother doing it at all?” You think.

However, the truth is, most of the time, getting something done good enough is, well, good enough. Even if you check a hundred times, there are probably going to be mistakes. Even if you organize your bedroom 30 times, someone else will have a different idea of what is right or wrong. Instead, realize that done is good enough for now. You can perfect as you go.

Automate More Stuff

Most people just have too much stuff to do. They often say “yes” more than they should, underestimate their ability sometimes, and overestimate it other times. It’s all-natural and normal.

However, you can get rid of so much mental clutter if you outsource some duties. Whether they’re work or home duties, it doesn’t matter. You can outsource housework, childcare, organizing, just laundry – whatever it is that is causing you the most stress, and mental clutter is the first thing you should consider outsourcing or automating.

For example, you can automate your bill paying. You can automate food delivery with a food box. In the case of my own photo organizing, I chose to do some myself and some I had done by FOREVER. Think outside the box about what you can automate or outsource so you can get more done in less time with less mental clutter.

Eliminating the accumulation of clutter in your life and mind will positively impact your life. You’ll be happier, healthier, and more productive in all aspects of your life. From home to work, you’ll be able to prioritize and make better choices so that you don’t bring clutter, whether physical or mental, back into your life.

If you’d like to take my Organize & Declutter Challenge, you can find the Kindle book HERE. Note that for September 7 & 8th, 2023, there will be no charge for this ebook. Regularly it’s $1.99 US

You can also download the Tracker HERE and track how many items you release from your life. The tracker is FREE

If you are interested in getting your photos and digital life organized, then I invite you to FOREVER, where I will be your FOREVER Ambassador, and you and I can work together. You can receive your 2GB FOREVER Account and $20 to spend in the next two months HERE.

You can sign up for a 15-minute one-on-one to discuss your project and decide on a future plan HERE.


  • Donna Shanks says:

    Great article. I have just been through a downsizing process. I had a planned move date of the end of August. So I started in the new year, yes January, and gradually worked my way through each room. As we were moving to a seniors lodge I planned what we needed before I started. Then as I sorted a bookshelf I sold or placed in the giveaway box what I wasn’t taking with me. Then I sold the bookshelves. I needed a lot of time to give up things I had collected over a lifetime. Doing it gradually worked well, with no rush or last-minute panic. Once we got moved we did a bit of further culling as we discovered we didn’t need some of what we thought we would. As time went by it got easier and I felt good and less burdened by stuff. Occasionally it was exciting to have someone excited to buy something I had been anxious to give up. Like the young mom who bought my sewing machine. She was going to start making clothes for her new daughter. So I threw in the material from another pile. It is a good thing to do and I think it is good for the soul. We are not our possessions but we do become obsessed by them. We are now situated in a cozy space and enjoying life with others taking care of the more mundane chores. I have now started to do the things I didn’t have time for when I had to look after my stuff.

    • Donna, love your approach of thinking what you needed and working from there. I especially like that you were able take the time you needed to prepared. It’s a big job. Congrats on your move and your new found time to do the things you really love.