How To Manage Clutter Inside and Out:   What exactly does it mean to manage our Inner vs. Outer Clutter?

To help us out, our guest blogger is a psychologist, Dr. Erika McElroy. She is the owner of Smooth Rock Psychological Services. She has some great tips for managing the Inner clutter.

First off we need to define what I mean by Inner and Outer Clutter…

Inner clutter refers to emotional and psychological clutter felt by everyone at times. It’s the thoughts and feelings that take up so much of our time and leave us with nothing but fear, worry, unhappiness, and even fatigue. It’s rare for someone to describe their happy and joy-filled memories as clutter!

Outer clutter refers to the piles of magazines that need to be recycled, the cabinet that won’t close because it’s overstuffed, the office where finding a pen takes 15 minutes of searching…well, I think you get the idea. Outer clutter can be stress-inducing and definitely impacts psychological wellness.

When we do not make time to keep our mental states clean and tidy, our external (Outer) environment can quickly become a reflection of the Inner clutter. The goal is for the Inner and Outer to be in alignment and we can accomplish that using these questions and tips.

3 Questions to help identify and address Inner clutter from our guest and psychologist:

How do I feel? Just like taking your car for an oil change to ensure it’s working well, you should also make time to check-in with yourself about your thoughts and feelings. Have you been feeling resentful toward someone? Perhaps not taking the time to have fun and instead of working long hours? Being in a positive mindset before trying to physically clear clutter will help provide more clarity about what needs to be thrown out and kept.

What does having “stuff” mean to me? Often our material stuff helps us feel accomplished and worthy. This is a faulty mindset, otherwise known as a thinking error! Being surrounded by “stuff” does not necessarily mean our lives are fulfilled and we’re happy.

How is working and living in a cluttered space serving me?  Silly as it may sound human beings can be very good at creating subconscious barriers to success. These barriers can then become excuses for not reaching goals. For example, if you work on commission and spend 20-minutes looking for a pen and pad of paper and a phone number of a business colleague you’re being very inefficient. However, you may feel very “busy and productive” because we’re “doing something.” In reality, the “doing” was searching Outer clutter and not making 2 phone calls that could have brought in new business.

3 how-to-tips for managing Outer clutter:

  1. Make a plan

Start with a small space. Don’t choose an area that will include sentimental items or a lot of paper (these spaces can take a bit longer and could be discouraging.) Add it to your calendar and treat it as an important appointment…. because it is.

  1. Create a space for donations

Once you make the decision to donate an item, place it in the box or bag. As soon as the container is full, put it in your car, and drop it off.

  1. Label, label, label

When you label bins and shelves in your home then items will be put in their place much easier. Whether you live alone, with roommates or a family, this will help the clutter from piling up.

I hope you enjoyed hearing from our guest blogger from Smooth Rock Psychological Services and that you’ll make a plan to tidy up your Inner and Outer clutter today!