Zen Your Spaces – Declutter, Sort and Organise

Living with clutter can make things feel like everything is a struggle. 

Clearing our spaces frees our thinking, creates flow and nurtures our soul – CE

There is a reason that it is called Spring Cleaning!  It is the time of the year when we feel inclined to want to declutter, sort and organise our spaces and our lives.  As I look around my home and office I can see that they really do need some decluttering, sorting and organising for me to feel lighter and more on track.  Over winter I tend to hoard a bit and get lazy in my following through to keep my spaces “zenned”.

Unfortunately, when I get cluttered I feel overwhelmed and my thinking, productivity and time management decreases – none of which serves me.  When we have clutter around us it affects us at an unconscious level.  We tend to feel less energetic, less on top of things, overwhelmed, stressed and not as in control or relaxed (and not happy!).  The Chinese mastered this understanding of energy flow centuries ago with the practice of Feng Shui.  Feng Shui is the study of energy patterns known as “Chi”.  When Chi is stagnant or obstructed, as it is when we have a cluttered environment, it affects us on a number of levels, particularly energetically.

Re-energising our environment and removing obstacles and clutter increases the movement of Chi which brings positive flow of Chi into our environment and lives.  The Chinese believe it brings good luck and good fortune.  As we declutter and rearrange our environment we begin to feel lighter, more energised, more balanced, and happier.

So here we are in September and I feel highly motivated to Zen my home and office.  I started with the pantry and kitchen – our place of nourishment and sustenance and am now slowly working my way through each room.

Revitalising our life and home should be an enjoyable activity.  It is much better to undertake these tasks when we can feel excited and motivated because we move into a flow state more readily and the whole process is easier.

In his article “Decluttering as a Zen Meditation”, Leo Babauta, the author of The Power of Less, says that:

1. Clutter is a manifestation of:

a) holding onto the past and,

b) fear of what might happen in the future.

2. Letting go of clutter is a way to live more mindfully and in the present.

3. The act of decluttering itself can be a mindfulness practice.

Some of the best tips for decluttering are:

  • Begin by visualising the end result  – clean clear and auspicious
  • Take a notebook and make a list of what changes you want to make in each room
  • Begin with a small area like the bathroom or a room that is of least importance to you and finish with the most important room or the room that will take the most effort
  • Have a rubbish box and a box for charity – go through and allocate anything that you haven’t used in a year to one of these boxes.
  • Throw out anything that is broken or chipped or not fully functioning (or repair it quickly)
  • Find a place for everything – only have objects of beauty showing – less is best!
  • Keep everything that makes you laugh
  • Use containers to store small objects in an orderly way
  • Put the things you use frequently in the easiest position to reach
  • Open windows and let in fresh air as you go
  • Ensure horizontal spaces are free as much as possible
  • Throw out old magazines or donate them to an aged people’s facility or a doctors surgery
  • Sort to the garage then arrange what you are keeping into organised areas based on function – tools, sporting equipment etc.
  • Anything you absolutely must keep for sentimental reasons (and be ruthless!), pack in to a box, label it and store it in the garage.
  • Give away old bags, clothes, furniture, books, trinkets etc – de-junk!
  • Dump the real junk first.  When in doubt about keeping or dumping something – keep it – you can dump it again in 6 months on the next round of decluttering
  • Remember to dump things that you haven’t used in 12  months to create a virtuous cycle of giving and receiving
  • Other areas to declutter include out computers (and remember to back things up!), filing cabinets and top drawers in the kitchen!
  • If you have a handbag – declutter it once a week – I am always amazed at the accumulation of “stuff” in my bag and how light it becomes when I declutter it!

It is also important to declutter your mind – spend some time in quietness – no stimulation, just being  – and dump any negative thoughts and limiting beliefs.  With this in mind, when we spend time decluttering and sorting we are actually doing ourselves a great service on a whole lot of levels.  We also manage our time better because we have less distraction and spend less time looking for things we may have misplaced (or placed in a very safe place yet to be remembered!).

When we let go of past physical items and minimise our environmental clutter we reduce our visual overwhelm begin to open our thinking to new possibilities. We can start to see the “forest and the trees”.  Living in the present moment mindfully we can notice the finer nuances of life and take more time to “smell the proverbial roses”, which relaxes our mind and again, opens up our thinking, creativity, problem solving ability and productivity.

Decluttering enables us to think more clearly and to live more simply – giving us more time for the things that are most important to us.  Plan some time in small chunks – 5 minutes here, ½ hour there, 2 hours, ½ a day – whatever you can manage and begin to systematically declutter.  As you do you will feel happier, more satisfied, more in control, more organised, have better thinking abilities and generally more energised and vital.  You results will speak for themselves – Enjoy!


Eliminating whatever is piled in corners, hidden in closets,

and not moved or used in a long time is restorative – Lillian Too


I would be delighted if you would share with me your thoughts on your progress and strategies to declutter, sort and organise.  Please email me at c.egle@ilad.com.au


Posted in On Self Organisation