How a clear space gives you clarity to make decisions

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In this blog, I’ll tell you why dealing with life’s small stuff matters and how it can empower you.

I had a great business coach once. I was struggling with the magnitude of all the work I had to do, I was in all honesty overwhelmed! He told me to focus on the big rocks of my business and to beware of getting caught up with the gravel. That is a particular challenge for anyone (especially me) who has an eye for detail and a tendency towards being a perfectionist. But as I talk about in my (soon to be published) book, all of our personality assets – caring, sharing, perfectionist, focused, chilling – need to be managed or they take over and become our masters, rather than assistants! Note to self: Good enough is better than perfect and not finished. Steve Pavlina has a great blog about this: completion-vs-perfection

Get tidy by making a serious mess

I often find that my clients get caught up in shifting around the gravel, the small details of their life, and it paralyses them. I call this ‘washing machine syndrome’: stuff in your life and thoughts in your head just seem to keep churning round. Some of you will recognise this tendency to shift piles from one place to another and create more mess in the process. The solution I suggest, and that I’ve found works, again and again, might surprise you: make a real mess! May sound crazy, but when I am decluttering it is just like that, you do create more mess on the way. The process of clearing, sorting, ordering is a messy one. But by getting all that stuff out and ‘on the table’ you really start to see the wood for the trees and make real progress. One word of caution, though: without a clear vision, direction, discipline or a guide leading a clear path through the maze, you can still end up going around in circles. To read more about this and some other common pitfalls to avoid, download my free booklet 7 mistakes people make when decluttering.

So what do we do, deal with the gravel or the rocks?

Most people I work with tell me they are overwhelmed and can’t think straight and have reached a place of paralysis or depression. Clearly, this state of mind isn’t best placed for visioning your life. If your head is foggy with lots of stuff, then you can’t see out of the window to the view beyond.

So, even though in general I agree with my old coach, at times there are significant advantages to dealing with life’s gravel. Clearing some of that unfinished business that floats around in your mind can help to clear your head and your space. Part of my work as a declutter consultant is very much focused on supporting people in dealing with those little bits of unfinished business. The ‘gravel’ that’s weighing them down and stopping them from making decisions and creating the home and future they aspire to

Lists in your head?

How many of you have lists in the back of your mind that never make it to your desk? Every day the “nag” in your head will be reminding you of it and after a while, your head gets filled with many of these voices. Full of so much unfinished business that you’ve no space to think about that creative project, change of lifestyle or new direction anymore.

So I advise everyone to put some time aside and detox their life, just as you would if you were going on a health detox, a juice fast. How about putting a week aside to declutter your home and detox your head?

Setting time aside to deal with lots of niggly, nagging bits of gravel, will lead to a clearer head and a clearer mind. And this will mean a greater state of calm. If you like this idea about a zero inbox and zero nags, then read more about this with David Allens best-selling book Getting Things Done

“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”
David Allen

And then…?

Once the gravel has been curtailed a little, what actions and decisions come next? Well, I don’t know the answer, because it’s going to be different for everyone. One thing I am confident about is that the space in your home will be reflected in a lot more head space. And with that, you will be able to think and see things with much more clarity. So I’d suggest the next step is visioning. The key to creating what you want in your life is to have a clear and vivid picture of it in your mind. I’m not talking about some magical manifesting-stuff-out-of-thin-air deal. Simply that by being clear about what you want, you will be able to establish a structured plan to take you there. But that’s another blog …

Happy home detoxing!

I would love to hear your comments, please share and join the conversation. What does decluttering mean to you?[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section]


  1. Emilie

    This is such a great article Helen!
    I do believe decluttering is a powerful means to make us work on ourselves. It pushes us to make decisions, focus on the essential and get rid of the superfluous things. By decluttering your space, you also declutter your mind and it can help you to see things from a new perspective.

  2. Jackee

    Brilliant post Helen!

    Really clear and practical examples that have all worked in my own life.

    My sister cleared space on her landing and in the process got her new phone set up with ease that she’s been struggling with for four months, found her trainers and had bundles of energy.

    Looking forward to reading more posts.

    Warm Spirit.


  3. Catherine Stark

    Thank you Helen. I’m constantly decluttering. Once I’ve decluttered a physical or mental space I feel wonderful, like a huge weight has been lifted. My problem (have mentioned this to you once before) is that as soon as I have made a space, someone will refill it. This is disheartening and a very short lived joy for me. You suggested filling the space with eg a plant. But I want space, clear space, room to ‘breathe’.



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