Decreasing Clutter and Chaos

By: Ken Keis

"A life lived in chaos is an impossibility . . . "
Madeleine LíEngle, Science Fiction Novelist
1918 - 2007

Decreasing Clutter and Chaos!

Clutter: To run in disorder; to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness.

Chaos: A state of utter confusion; a confused mass or mixture.

Do you ever feel there is just too much stuff in your life?

Do you feel disorganized or overwhelmed or that you could be more effective than you are?

Well, you are not alone.

Clutter creates chaos, which leads to confusion.

It is amazing what people will live in or create. In the TV show Designed to Sell, a real estate expert reviews properties to maximize their selling potential. Each room in the house is usually floor-to-ceiling-full of stuff. At first, individuals protect their clutter because there could be something of value in there, even though they have ignored it for several years.

In every case, the expert recommends "de-cluttering." Once the chaos is reduced, the homes take on new appeal.

Why donít we tidy up -- whether or not we are selling our home? Maybe we donít acknowledge that clutter reduces our enjoyment and effectiveness.

You might argue that clutter does not have a negative effect on you, but let me challenge that thought.

Imagine you are going to see your doctor, dentist, or medical specialist. His office is clean but cluttered with files and instruments that reflect a state of general chaos. What is your confidence level for that professional? Not very high, right?

Or you are flying away on vacation and notice the pilot is dressed shabbily and his papers are in disarray when he pulls them from his case. Do you feel confident he will be a good pilot?

In the outside world, we view order as a sign of competence, so we need to establish this expectation of order in ourselves. Being organized will make you feel more together and capable.

Now comes your challenge.

How can you de-clutter your life?

These examples are from the past couple of months of my life.

- We just moved the CRG office. After 3 truckloads of stuff, it was apparent we needed to reduce our clutter. We are getting rid of old chairs, computer parts that were stuffed in drawers, files with no current purpose, and old inventory that never will be sold.

- During a recent vacation, when purchasing new attire, I recalled the words of an organizational specialist. His de-clutter rule is Do not bring anything into your living space until you remove something first.

- There will be some exceptions, but what about all those clothes you have not worn for years? Others in need could use them more than your closet.

- If you have a storage unit or area, when was the last time you looked at what is in there? If something does not have a current application, get rid of it! Garages can quickly become dump sites.

- We cut down two trees this summer that were overgrown and cluttering our yard. The new openness and space is refreshing.

- Let go of the past to allow the future into your life. Several years ago, I had placed some of my college t-shirts and jackets in storage. I have had to struggle with myself to let them go. Quite frankly, when I am 80, who will want them? I never looked at them unless I was re-loading storage boxes.

- I am working on getting Brenda, my wife, to let go of some of her teaching files. I have yet to be successful; somehow she feels she might in future need her prep-work for Grades 3 to 7 from 12 years ago. Can anyone relate?

- How about magazines that are 6 months old or older? Create a file for storing pages of articles you will need for a project -- otherwise get rid of them. In the online world, storage is virtual.

- Do you have old books about topics where new information now makes the booksí information outdated, like computers or health? Do you really need a 10-year-old book on Windows 95? (I gave mine away just last month!)

- Some of the best examples are the craft projects you started a decade ago and that remain untouched. Dump them; they clutter your mind as well as your space.

- Look at some peopleís cars! How do they even get into them with all the stuff growing inside?

Whatís the other side of the chaos coin? Remove all obligations or responsibilities that contribute to confusion or mental clutter for you.

So what about you?

- Do you have personal or work space that needs to de-cluttered?

- Have you cluttered your life with more obligations than you feel comfortable handling?
I have learned how to say No to multiple volunteer opportunities so I can focus on a couple and do them well -- without contributing overwhelming stress to my life.

Action Steps to Decrease Clutter and Chaos from Your Life

1. How cluttered is your personal space? Does it contribute to chaos or calmness?
2. What specific personal spaces can you de-clutter? List them now.
3. What are some of the personal benefits of reducing your personal-space chaos?
4. What do you have or own that you need to let go? Old clothes, collections, and so on.
5. Do you have a work or professional space? If Yes, how does it look to others?
6. What improvements can you make in your professional space to increase your effectiveness?
7. If you feel so overwhelmed that you donít know where to start, break the process into small pieces. For many of us, our chaos was years-in-the-making so allow yourself time to de-clutter.
8. Ask a friend or an organizational professional to help. There is obviously a market for de-cluttering because plenty of professionals organize space for a living. If you need help, please get it.
9. Let go of the past. Dump unused or unneeded items.
10. Donít delay. Make a commitment to start immediately after you finish reading the last sentence in this ezine!
11. Do not underestimate the benefit of de-cluttering and reducing the chaos in your life. When I loaded two bags full of my old clothes and took a trunk-full of odds and ends from our garage, I was euphoric! Donít delay. Start right now!

Until next time, keep Living On Purpose,

Ken Keis

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Ken Keis, MBA, CPC, is an internationally known author, speaker, and consultant. He is President and CEO of CRG Consulting Resource Group International, Inc., Many professionals herald CRG as the Number One global resource center for Personal and Professional Development.

For information on CRG Resources, please visit

For information on Kenís Training and Speaking Programs, please visit

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