Declutter Life


I’ve had seasons of struggling with clutter. Sometimes it has seemed like the battle of clutter is not worth fighting.  It’s especially hard when others are responsible for the clutter piling up in shared time and space. Clutter does not add value or meaning to life; it takes time and space away from what matters, literally changing the atmosphere of where we live and work, ultimately impacting how we live and work.  

Clutter is produced 

from the “have” and “have-to” of living.

Accumulation of the “have” and “have-to” becomes an obstacle to living our best.  In the end, decluttering is a vital piece of managing life.  Please understand . . . decluttering is not about perfection or keeping a set of rules . . . but rather a *doable system to manage the “have” and “have-to” of living.

Don’t be discouraged.  Clutter in any area of life is not failure but a revelation of what has been disregarded and mismanaged.  The places which seem too difficult to manage reveals the work which needs to be done within ourselves.  At the end of the day, clutter becomes self-imposed obstacles.  Addressing these areas is an integral piece of growth and development.

*It takes intentional determination to do inner work on a daily basis, which results in continual growth, wholeness, and peace.  

The thing is . . . disregarding what needs to be addressed . . . will eventually take an inordinate amount of attention and time, creating chaos internally and externally.  The willful decision to manage only what’s ours to manage changes the course of life. Most of us know we “should.” But. “Should” is a dangerous word, indicating something has been disregarded.

It all changes when “I should”

is exchanged with the decisive words,

“I will.”

Making the decision to declutter requires collaboration with one another, crucial for growth and development.  Decluttering, a component of organization,  is not about a right or wrong way of managing what we “have” or “have-to” do but rather developing a workable system.  It’s an investment of time and effort which will ultimately decrease wasted hours and days.

Possessions, the things we “have,” quickly pile up, regardless of the size of the spaces we occupy. This piece of organization is part of the responsibility of the privilege to “have” things and the space to put it in.


The culture of “have” has produced the “have-to” mindset and lifestyle.  There’s a perceived lack of time, which comes from the pressure of what we “have-to” do.  Years ago, I had a boss who made it his mission to slow my pace of living.  He repeatedly said, “We all have the same amount of hours in the day.  You are the busiest person on our staff.  I want you to slow down and enjoy life.

I would smile and agree; however, I thought, “How do I slow down and accomplish what you have told me to do, what I have to do at home, what my family needs me to do, and even think about what I would like to do?”

I could not get beyond being too busy.  There never seemed to be enough time to pause and breathe, let alone to be present in the moment. The next “have-to” grabbed my attention, leaving me breathless and stressed.  It took a significant amount of time to realize I needed to develop a system to declutter my time in order to live free from the constraints of the “have-to” with space to breathe and to see the gift of the day.

I often advise people to  breathe.  I understand the response to my advice: “I have to do this . . . and I have to do that . . . and, then, I will breathe.”  As impossible as it seems, creating space by releasing some of our “have and have-to” is possible.

How can the accumulated clutter from our “have and have-to” be removed? 

First things first:  Make time to be silent and still to truthfully view what’s cluttering your space and time, evaluating what needs to released and simplified.  I know this might seem counter-intuitive and more like an avoidance tactic; however, the reasons for clutter often go soul deep. The effort to enter into sacred time and space often feels uncomfortable and challenging because it’s not practiced in our noisy, busy culture. It can feel like one more thing to do.  Even so, silence and stillness provide the space to breathe, to know God, and to unpack the matters of life.  The ancient words give us the directive:

Be still and know God (Psalm 46:10).

Silence and stillness brings the opportunity to see the truth of our reality, looking intently at  how and where clutter has accumulated.  “God show me the clutter in what I have.  Give me the ability to understand why I hang on to it and how to release it.  And, God would you show me how I’ve allowed some things I do to be clutter?  God remove the clutter that I might pursue and persist with only what matters.

God uses these divine moments to teach.  A life-changing fact after a time of silence and stillness spoke deeply to me:   “I have allowed things in life which are not mine to have to be in my space and to do in my time.  I will release each one.”

Yes.  I knew this to be a principle for all of us; but the personal knowing which came out of the silence and stillness went soul deep. I had clarity and drive to release the clutter in my life.  While it will always be a challenge, I am continually evaluating the “have” and “have-to” because of this one simple revelation. I have never regretted releasing whatever is not to be in my space or time.  Admittedly, it has required some hard questioning of myself and ongoing evaluation of why I succumb to what is not mine to have or do.  I can truthfully say the work of it all makes an incredible difference in how life is lived.

It’s a choice to neglect or pay attention to what has become clutter in our life.  Take time to be silent and still, working through what matters in your life.  Choose to be diligent and declutter what does not belong in your story.  

*Look for our upcoming courses, Rise and Systematic Organization.  Also take a look at similar articles under TableThink’s Organization section.

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