Clutter Busting – Free Up Your Attention

By Brooks Palmer in Book Reviews on May 1st, 2009 / One Comment

Your home has become a trash can.  The trash is clutter.  Clutter is anything that no longer supports you.  Anything can be clutter. Anything. Clothes, electronics, books, people, and activities are clutter if they no longer suit you. When there is clutter in your home, the effect of the disorder is chaos.  It affects your peace of mind, health and relationships.

I’m an expert in clutter busting. For nine years, I’ve been going into people’s homes and helping them let go of the clutter in their lives. I’d like to share some insights from the world of clutter and let you know how to get out of that world and into one of clarity.

We have clutter in our lives because we are encouraged to acquire, but not to let go. Because of advertising and societal pressures we learn to define ourselves and others by the things we surround ourselves with. We end up believing that things make us powerful. We buy into the concept that we are unhappy and something outside of ourselves will restore each of us to “a better me.”

Instead of feeling mightier, the presence of clutter weakens us. We feel the impulse to get something so we’ll feel better. The cycle continues. To break the spell of clutter it’s time to stop and see that things are not sacred…you are. As you are is enough.

The process of clutter busting is taking an honest look at the things in your life and asking what supports you and what doesn’t. To help make this clearer, think of something basic in your life that matters to you. How does this thing make you feel? That feeling is a guidepost for what supports you. When you ask the same question about something else and the supportive feeling isn’t there, that thing is clutter. At least 60% of the things in a person’s life are clutter. It’s no wonder so many people are unhappy.

Here’s a way to approach clutter busting on your own. Take a tour of your living space. As you walk through your home, allow your senses to dominate.  Let your thinking mind take a back seat to the process.  Be aware of whatever you feel, see, smell, hear or taste. Sense the location of disturbance – this is a chaotic space. You feel agitated in its presence.  Your mind may say, “No, that’s not clutter”, or, “But what if I need that?” This is a good time to ignore the back seat chatter of your mind that got you in this situation in the first place.

Sit down in the congested area. Have three trash bags next to you.  One bag is for trash, the second is for recycling, the third is for charity.  Start to go through every item in that area.  Ask yourself, “Do I like this, or can I let it go?”  If you hesitate, or feel indecisive, it’s clutter.  If you’re not sure, it’s clutter. You know what matters to you. You don’t need time to feel what is right. Put the trash, recycling, and donations in the proper bags. Notice the feeling of relief as you let go of something that doesn’t support you. That’s the feeling of getting your life back.

Clutter can have a hypnotic spell. You may find yourself getting lost in an object. You become overwhelmed with the memories you associate with the thing. You don’t want to let it go because you feel like you are letting go of a part of yourself. A part of you is now lost in the past. You are less present. Ironically, the memory is of a point of time when you were very present. You were happy – then. You want to hang onto a memory of happiness, but this clinging actually makes you unhappy because you are less present now. Let go of what diminishes you. This action will actually make you happy.

Continue to go through each and every item.  There’s an amazing momentum that comes from continuing the clutter-busting process. The process itself leads you by the hand. As more things go, you get back your clarity and peace of mind. Your intuitive natural sense of things takes over. You feel a sense of joy that’s big and stable.

You will know you are done clutter busting this area when you have asked the question, “Do I like this, or can I let it go?” of everything in the space. Put the trash and recycling out, and deliver the donations to the charity.  It’s important to complete the entire process in each area.

As you continue with another area of your living space, you’ll find that the more you clutter bust, the better you will feel. When you remove the distraction of the clutter, your natural joy rises to your conscious awareness.

Not only will you enjoy coming home again, but you’ll leave the door open for new opportunities to come into your life. There are really great things – friendships, peace of mind, creative endeavors, and yes, even wonderful new objects that you love – standing in line, waiting to come into your life.

About the author:
Brooks Palmer’s Clutter Busting, business took off by word of mouth when people began calling, usually out of sheer desperation. He has since been featured in The Los Angeles Business Journal and Daily Candy, and on Living Live and the CBS Channel 2 Nightly News. Brooks travels between Chicago, Florida, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City, working with clients and offering seminars on getting rid of the clutter in our lives. He lives in Chicago. His website is

Based on the book Clutter Busting.  Copyright © 2009 by Brooks Palmer. Reprinted with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. or 800/972-6657 ext. 52.

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One Response to “Clutter Busting – Free Up Your Attention”

  1. Arleen Armantage, Ph.D. Says:

    I appreciated this clear, concise (clutter-free!) article! It contained some motivating insights I haven’t seen before in discussions of this timely topic.

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