What Is Clutter? The Meaning Will Surprise You

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What Is Clutter?

Clutter is a crowded collection of things lying around in an untidy mass. It is a state of disorder that prevents people from easily finding what they need.

Most people think that the exact meaning of clutter is obvious; the issue is, what may look like clutter to one person, to someone else, it may seem like a perfectly organized system.  Truly, clutter is in the eyes of the beholder.


Because people build a relationship with the stuff they buy. When this happens, the stuff around us begins to take control of how we live our lives. This is why people who live in cluttered homes feel embarrassed because they fear being seen as having lost control.

Define what clutter means to YOU, and you’ll be a lot closer to doing something about it. It’s that simple.

So, how do you decide what clutter is and what it is not?

In its’ simplest form, clutter is:

  • Things you don’t need or use.
  • Things that are broken or obsolete.
  • Things you don’t like.
  • Things you don’t have orderly space for.
  • Clutter is a state of being untidy

Expanded view of the meaning of clutter

According to Wikipedia, clutter is a confusing or disorderly state or collection.

On Dictionary.com, clutter is defined as something untidy or overfilled with objects in a state or condition of confusion.

The real meaning of clutter goes beyond that. When something doesn’t get resolved, or when something doesn’t get decided, it can create mental, physical, or financial clutter. Here is what I mean by that:

Physical clutter (clutter around us)

Physical clutter and mental clutter are correlated; they both can cause the other to manifest.

The best way to deal with physical clutter is to become aware that it’s there; then, think of the appropriate place where you should move each item to. The last step is to remove the clutter to its rightful place. Don’t think about it twice; just do it.

Mental clutter (unresolved things)

Mental clutter is caused by overstimulation and a never-ending list of things to do such as bills to pay, worries, emails to send, or unfinished business.

Unfortunately, most people underestimate the power of mental clutter. It can cause stress and throw you off your game. It’s like unfinished business. That’s a big deal.

To get rid of mental clutter, all you need to do is DECIDE. Take pleasure in making the decisions you need to make to get rid of the things taking control of your life.

Financial clutter (clutter in your finances)

You deal with financial clutter is by making good financial decisions; this means paying your bills on time, spending less money than what you make, preparing a personal budget, and earning more income.

Read More: One great way to earn more money today is by asking your employer for a salary increase. Our Salary Negotiation Online Course is an interactive course where you will learn how to effectively ask for a raise, step-by-step.

How Do We Create clutter?

Clutter starts when we postpone decisions. This indecision may happen automatically when someone is unsure what the right place for an item is or because one wants to procrastinate.

The more decisions you postpone, the more clutter you’ll accumulate.

We create physical clutter in the following two ways:

  1. We keep stuff lying around because we have not decided where to put them.

  2. We buy things we don’t need and quickly run out of space.

The process to start de-cluttering starts with making a conscious effort to acquire less stuff. For example, summer may be coming up, but do you need a new pair of shorts, or can you still use the ones from last year.

If you buy new ones, is that going to clutter your closet?

How Much Stuff Is Too Much?

One clear sign of living with clutter is the level of stress you feel while you’re at home.

Another clear way to identify clutter is by asking yourself if you can easily find things you’re looking for.

Lastly, perhaps the most effective way to find out if you have too much stuff lying around is by asking yourself if you’d be proud to invite friends over without moving anything.

Is Clutter caused by procrastination?

Procrastination is another form of clutter or what I call delayed decision-making. When you push off tasks that you should do today, you’re procrastinating.

Many people either delay or avoid thinking about where to put things. Every item needs a home, and many of us don’t take the proper time to think about where to place things. That could be your car keys, mail, or the things we buy.

Our brains like to take shortcuts unless you make the conscious effort to make things important.

For example, the popular journal ‘Current Psychology’ published a study highlighting a direct relationship between procrastination and clutter. The study explains that procrastination is closely tied to clutter because sorting through items is a task many people find unpleasant, and thus they try to avoid.

Cluttered homes are more stressful homes.

According to the principles of Feng Shui, clutter drains energy; it creates more stress and frustration in people.

As Psychology-today highlights, cluttered homes are more stressful because the mess bombards our minds with excessive stimuli, making it difficult for us to relax.

Clutter also prevents us from finding things we need quickly, thus adding frustration to our daily lives.

What are the benefits of clearing your clutter?

Imagine you had the best night’s sleep last night. How do you feel? Does fresh, clear, and sharp come to mind?  That’s exactly what getting rid of clutter feels like!

There is no downside to clearing your space. You’ll feel more energized, happier, and feel fantastic.

  • Decluttering reduces anxiety, which means you’ll argue less with housemates.

  • You’ll find lost treasures.

  • You feel more creative and confident.

Clutter is bad. Too much around you is energy-draining as it pulls you into the past and prevents you from moving on to a better future.

The bottom line

The key to deal with clutter is to decide to deal with it today. Know this – you have to allow yourself the opportunity to negotiate with yourself.

What do I mean by that?

Dealing with clutter requires compromise; to effectively manage it, you have to establish rules. On the one side, a part of you wants to keep things the way they are, even if that means clutter will continue to pile up. You ignore it!

On the other side, you have established rules that tell you exactly what you need to do. For example, “store all important files in the (important files) folder” or so on.

So, what you need to do today it put in place a set of rules that will prevent you from allowing clutter to take hold in your life.

Bonus Tip: To help you get control of your finances, using a budget binder is a great option. Our budgeting binder is packed with over 31 templates to help you set a budget, plan daily meals, and achieve your financial goals.

Budgeting Binder Planner

This 31+ page printable digital binder planner will help you take control of your finances, and set clear financial goals, so that you can get out of debt.

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