10 Common Types of Clutter to Spring Clean

March 12, 2018

Anyone else getting the spring cleaning itch?  It's getting slightly warmer here, which always makes me want to clean things.  Even my mom is talking about getting rid of more things out of her house (yay!), because you can't do a good spring clean if you don't first start by getting out the items you don't need.  Spring cleaning often means physical clutter, but I think there's much more to decluttering and simplifying your life than just donating the extra toaster you haven't used in two years.  If you're getting a similar spring clean itch, I hope this list can guide you towards some other things to clear out of your life that you might not have considered.  Of course, this isn't an exhaustive list of all the things you could possibly declutter from your life.  It's just a guide of some common ones, ones that can get you started if you're feeling overwhelmed and wanting to simplify your life.


Physical Clutter

This is probably where everyone starts when they think of minimalism and clutter.  It's just all the physical knick knacks that clutter up a space, which is different for everyone.  I have a lower threshold for what I consider clutter and a messy looking space, but that's not the only way of looking at physical clutter.  It's simply whatever items are distracting you from using and/or enjoying what's truly useful in your life, and more importantly, making you feel stressed when you look at a space.

Inherited Clutter

Inherited clutter is the stuff that came to you by means of someone else, rather than items you picked up on your own.  This includes both things that were given and passed on to you by family and things that were gifted over the years.  If it truly adds value to your life, it's not clutter.  But if it's only value is that is came to you from someone you care about, that doesn't automatically make it something you need to keep.  Just because it had value to them doesn't mean it has to have value to you - you can let it go.

Sentimental Clutter

These are the things you have attachment to because of the memories associated with them.  Not every sentimental item is clutter, but not every item is actually sentimental or adding value anymore either.  Some things have just stood the test of time because they always have, they just keep hanging around, but take the time to reevaluate and see if it's worth it to keep around anymore.  Maybe a picture of the item would work just as well, or maybe you don't care as much as you thought you did.  And never keep anything that's sentimental attachment is a negative one - if it brings up bad feelings, get rid of it.

Aspirational Clutter

I've mentioned this before as being the clutter of your 'fantasy self,' where the you in your head has items it needs, but that isn't the real you.  Some people are fantastic cooks in their head and keep the kitchen stocked with all sorts of appliances and gadgets, but in reality, they just don't have time for it. Aspirational clutter that I used to keep were scrapbooking things - I believed I was much more creative and patient (and less of a perfectionist!) than I actually was.  I got rid of all of that stuff.  If this is you, you really have two options.  Either make the aspirations a reality (sign up for cooking classes, complete the scrapbook projects) or accept that you don't have these goals anymore and let the stuff go.

Informational Clutter

People love holding on to informational clutter because it's useful, and we have a hard time letting go of things that could be useful.  Informational clutter is textbooks, books, workbooks, things that contain information that we want or wanted to learn at some point.  Once you've learned what the content is, you can let it go.  And not every book needs to be read again.  You can also let it go if you're honest with yourself and realize you're never actually going to make the time for learning something you thought you cared about.

Digital Clutter

This is all the stuff that builds up on phones and computers.  Pictures that spiral out of control and papers you wrote 8 years ago for an English class in college.  It's so easy to keep on storing these things because it takes up so little room in what seems like endless storage space.  Plus, since it's not in the line of sight daily like physical clutter, it's easy to ignore.  Start putting systems and plans in place for your digital items.  Think about what types of pictures you actually want to save and what files are really important, so anything that doesn't fit those parameters won't get saved in the future.  Then start deleting what is there until you're left with what you really need.  It'll make it so much easier to find things in the future and turn your computer and phone into useful devices again.

Schedule Clutter

Schedule clutter is real, I tell you.  People are constantly cramming their schedules full of activities, whether that's things they really want to do or things that they just think they should be doing.  It just leaves you feeling overwhelmed, and for what?  Figure out what your top priorities are and make your schedule reflect that.  If your top priorities are your family and friends, but you're spending every weekend working a second job and running the PTA at your kid's school and never actually seeing your important people, your schedule just isn't lining up with your priorities and something needs to get cut.

Value and Goals Clutter

Like schedule clutter, secondary values and goals can really detract from the primary values and goals in our lives.  We start putting so much time and emphasis on these secondary things that the top priorities get pushed out.  You might really value travel and seeing the world, but if you're allowing things like impulse shopping for clothes to take the top spot, you're literally taking money away from your top value.  List out what your top values and goals are in your life and assess whether there are other things that you're allowing to infringe on the time you spend on your most important priorities.

Mental and Emotional Clutter

This can be a tough one for people, but mental clutter would be those negative emotions and thoughts you won't let go.  It's a very personal one so it varies a lot, but it's the sort of thing like having a constant negative outlook, or self-defeating thoughts.  Emotional clutter is similar, things like guilt and fear that you hang on to.  Consider if these thoughts and emotions are holding you back, and why.  If these things aren't serving a beneficial purpose, it's time to conquer the fears and let go of guilt - it can take years to drop this kind of clutter, but it's worth it.

Relational Clutter

The older you get, the better you are at recognizing exactly who is relationship clutter in your life.  Toxic friends are easier to spot when you've had time to grow and realize who the important people are in your life that lift you up instead of drag you down.  If you still have anyone who makes you feel stressed or sad, it's time to cut them out.  Like the other types of clutter, only keep those that add value to your life.

Which of these are the biggest source of clutter in your life?  Which are you ready to clean this spring?



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