I wanted to share a few thoughts about the connection between slowing down and decluttering. I often say that clutter represents decisions that haven’t been made. But why have those decisions been avoided? As I explore in The Secret Life of Clutter, there are many factors that can contribute to this, from overwhelm to anxiety to some deeper psychological issues. But undoubtably a huge factor is the pace of contemporary life and what Carl Honoré bestselling author of In Praise of Slow refers to as ‘speedaholism’.
Clutter is one of the most obvious, material manifestations of the speed in our lives. We rush in from work, grab some letters from the doormat and as we hurry into the kitchen to start dinner, dump them on the pile of yesterday’s mail. ‘I’ll deal with that later’ we tell ourselves and undoubtably mean it. But invariably ‘later’ never comes and so the pile of unprocessed mail, of unmade decisions, grows.
Speed also means it is super quick and easy to acquire things nowadays. In just a couple of clicks the latest product or fashion can go from our social media feed to our doorstep. Another recipe for potential clutter.
Rushing and clutter as denial
Rushing around our cluttered homes from one pressing thing to the next can also be a form of denial, a way of postponing addressing some of the deeper issues in our lives.
Taking time to slow down, and really look at what we have also allows us to reflect on bigger questions about our identity and purpose. About how we can contribute to the world and how we want to lead our life
Balancing efficiency and mindfulnesseI’m not opposed to doing things quickly, my process in fact is based in part on quickly and intuitively addressing those unmade decisions. But as Carl Honoré says: faster is not always better, it’s a matter of
‘… doing everything at the correct speed: quickly, slowly or whatever pace works best. Slow means being present, living each moment fully, putting quality before quantity.’
At times, we do need to take a little longer to make some decisions about what to keep and what to let go. It is about finding balance. One between working quickly to build momentum that helps one overcome any resistance to change, and taking time when it is appropriate. Therefore, my process is carefully structured to accommodate both focused action and necessary contemplation.
‘Mindful decluttering is as much about connecting to what you have, as it is about letting go of things that no longer serve you.’
Allow yourself space and time
I believe there’s a strong and complementary correlation between creating space and creating time. When we have more space and order in our homes, we are better able to slow down, take a breath and be more present in the moment. And in a beautiful, virtuous circle, the more we can slow down, the better we are able to appreciate and maintain that space and order.
So, before you hurry on to the next activity, just take a moment.
Pause and reflect on what slowing down and decluttering to create a little extra space and order in your home could bring to your life.
Then, when the time is right, take the next right action.