Don’t Focus on the Clutter, Focus on Your Passions!

(The following is a guest post by Mike Burns who blogs at the  othersideofcomplexity.com . This is an adjusted excerpt from his brand new eBook, Living Clutter-Free with Kids in the House. The book is FREE for 3 days! [July 4-6])

Los Angeles County "Station Fire" view from LAX

When you read a blog like Midway Simplicity, you probably expect to find a bunch of tips on how to declutter. You may anticipate reading lists of techniques or gadgets to help you do it better. And that’s a fair expectation.

However, the tips & techniques that help the most with decluttering are not necessarily the ones related to the nuts and bolts of the actual stuff. They are the things that help us with how we think about our stuff.

The most helpful tips, in my opinion, are those mindset-altering ways-of-looking-at-things. They set you free from things you’ve assumed to be true.

They don’t make your piles disappear. They change your thought patterns so that you see the piles differently. From there, you can decide what to do with them.

Having said that, let’s talk a little bit about focus.

When you are overwhelmed and surrounded with piles of clutter, the temptation is to put ALL of your attention on the clutter. In fact, that’s probably why you are frustrated in the first place.

Your focus is on the stuff. There is so much stuff within eyesight, you don’t know where to look or what to do. You are distracted.

So what do we do when we find ourselves in that situation?

Don’t focus on the clutter.

Wait…what? Isn’t this post about decluttering?”

Yes, it is. However…

To win the battle against clutter, you must have a significant motivation.

Clutter happens. It can be brutal. It builds quickly and it keeps coming back. This is especially true when you have children!

So, it’s going to take more than a little bit of encouragement to live clutter-free. You will run out of steam if you are just trying to declutter for the sake of decluttering. There has to be something else that’s motivating you.

There must be some “yes” in your life that drives you to say “no” to those things that distract you. There must be a positive passion that demands your effort.

So, don’t focus on the clutter. Focus on the passion.

It’s that passion that makes the effort worth it. It’s the passion that you are striving toward. It’s the passion that will outlive the weariness, and the fatigue and the criticism of those who don’t understand.

You can replace the word passion with goal or ideal or priority. Whatever you call them, your passions are those things which you have determined are worth your investment. They’re the things that are most important to you.

If we focus on the clutter, we are actually giving prominence to the stuff that we have already decided is secondary. We are giving the spotlight to those things that we say are “not that important.”

Instead, we have to lift ourselves out of the pile high enough to see our goal. That’s where we’ll find the strength to push through it.

When you’re tired and overwhelmed with clutter…look away from it (toward your priorities) before you look it in the eye to defeat it.

If we’re not careful, we can be guilty of worshipping our defining terms. We allow “simplicity” or “minimalism” or “clutter-free” to be what it’s all about. In those moments, we lose sight of why we utilized the terms in the first place.

If all we do is declutter so we can say we did it, it will bear limited fruit. Clutter-free is not the goal. It’s the tool that helps take us to the goal. Clutter-free is not the destination. It’s the vehicle that gets us there.

Living clutter-free” is only as valuable as the causes and relationships to which you give your life.

If there is no big, beautiful target, the sharpened arrow is only a pretty sight. If there is a clear spot to hit, then the time spent sharpening and polishing becomes worth the effort.

So, before you start decluttering, determine what’s really important to you. You have to know what your focus should be on before you can determine which things are distracting you from it.

Your “why” will help you as you begin to master your stuff. It will encourage you to continue pushing toward a life where your stuff suits your purposes, not the other way around.

Check out Mike Burns new eBook, Living Clutter-Free with Kids in the House. The book is FREE for 3 days! [July 4-6] You can download it HERE.

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Photo Credit by Jaimito Cartero

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