Put It In a Box

As organized as I am, (and if you know me at all, you will know I am very organized), even someone like me who has to have a place for everything and everything in its place . . . I also, occasionally, every once-in-a-while, manage to accumulate a pile of clutter. Yikes! That is hard to admit, but it is true.

Clutter comes in all shapes and sizes. It sneaks in all around us – through paper, junk, emotions, and thoughts. We cannot escape it because “stuff” bombards us all day long. I personally get frustrated when my desk starts to pile up because I like to clear it off each night.

So, I began to take notice. What was I leaving in a pile? And why? Sorting through the papers, it hit me. This is all the stuff I don’t want to deal with right now.

It included things I didn’t know what to do with, or I just didn’t want to do, or it carried some emotional weight. That’s when procrastination sets in and instead of dealing with these tasks head-on, I chose to put them in a pile. At least now I know why my clutter and piles start to grow.

We can have physical, mental, and emotional clutter. Each of these areas have things in common and we can deal with all of them in some similar ways.

  • Physical clutter: papers, bills, magazines, clothes, toys, shoes, etc. Basically anything that you can hold in your hand is physical clutter.
  • Mental clutter: thoughts, to-do’s, stress, upcoming deadlines, etc. Anything you are thinking about constantly or several times a day is mental clutter.
  • Emotional clutter: feelings, worry, anxiety, stress, shame, guilt, etc. All those issues that impact our emotions that we carry around with us is emotional clutter.
It is easiest to deal with PHYSICAL clutter because we can see it, touch it, and feel it, but this works for MENTAL and EMOTIONAL clutter too! To quickly deal with this type of clutter, BOX IT UP! I learned this tip from a friend. She would come over and help me with my scrapbooking business and while we were busy cutting paper and preparing for a class, my workspace would get a little messy. She suggested that instead of having all these little places of piles, just put the piles in one place, a box, so that everything looked clean. I did this and instantly felt better! Then I took the box and put things away one at a time.
  1. Boxing things up clears up your view. When we clear our line of vision, we do feel better and not overwhelmed. It allows us to take a moment and experience how good it is to have everything done and put away.
  2. Boxing things up allows you to focus on one thing. Instead of seeing all the piles of clutter, you see the top thing. The box contains the clutter and you can just deal with one thing.
  3. Boxing things up helps us to prioritize. When you go through the box, you will notice that we tend to do the things that must be done right away. We prioritize without really thinking about it. The most important things rise to the top.

Caution: you must empty the box. The box is not a solution for avoiding uncomfortable tasks. Those tasks must be done, otherwise you wouldn’t have them in your box. Try to tackle the harder tasks as quickly as possible. Make them fun or ask for help. It may be worth it to pay someone to do them if possible. But don’t continue to avoid them.

Boxing things up is NOT long-term storage! Set a deadline for you to empty this box. Really push yourself to do those things you keep procrastinating. (I am speaking to myself here too!)

Boxing things up works for mental and emotional clutter too! Our minds are full of thoughts, worry, stress, to-do lists, expectations, and the list goes on. How can you use this “box method” for your mind?

I like to use a notebook and write everything that is going on in my head down on to paper. Just get it all out of your head and into your notebook. The notebook is your “box” for your head. The same steps can be applied to this list. You will feel relief and a sense of calm when you box up the clutter.

Remember, though, we are not avoiding our tasks. We are just dealing with them on our terms, with a clear view, one at a time, and prioritized. Now, it is time for me to clear my workspace and box it all up! :)


Featured photo by Lia Trevarthen on Unsplash.