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Want to reduce Stress? You Need to clear Clutter

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Clearing your clutter helps reduce your stress levels


Last weekend I decided to combine a spot of dusting with rearranging my book shelves. True to habit, I started perusing through a couple of old treasured books and came across a book that I had bought almost a decade ago out of sheer curiosity called Spiritual Housecleaning by Kathryn L Robyn.

Nothing along the lines of a rocket science manual or New Age remedies, but full of simple details on systematic housecleaning that incorporated spirituality and practical rituals for making one’s home a sacred space while helping to de-clutter the mind, improve energy levels and organize thoughts.

(You can click on the book image to find out the contents of the book)



As I skimmed through it (that’s the book I was reading above), it struck me how clutter can actually create more stress and the need to be organised.

I mean, how many times have you gotten irritated because you couldn’t find your pen, paper, an important document or even your car keys?

It happened to me on numerous occasions as a student and while I found excuses to avoid clearing up the mess with phrases like ‘there’s a method in my madness’, deep down I knew better and now have a weekly desk de-clutter scheduled on my weekend To Do List using a technique that I outline in this post.

I have followed this practice faithfully for the last two decades and it is so embedded in my psyche that I guess it is now a sacred ritual for me.

One benefit that I have noticed is the increased focus, intent of purpose and a more organised manner of executing my tasks.


The state of a desk and the surrounding area says a lot about a person’s frame of mind


The state of a desk and the surrounding area says a lot about a person’s frame of mind.

When I visit offices for meetings, I sense things about the person I am supposed to meet based upon the state of their desk. I sense chaos at the sight of heaps of papers, files & dossiers on desktops, not an organised, focused and logical person.

Perhaps the person has a personal foolproof method here, but I am unable to understand it.

My advice to anyone who has a similar desk whether in a corporate office or a home office, or even as a student is – get organised.

If you work in an office, come to work five minutes early and organize everything. Do it every time you have a clutter which impedes finding the ringing telephone or the car keys under a mountain of papers. It will save a lot of valuable time & increase your work efficiency not to mention reduce avoidable stress.

Believe it or not, there are life coaches who actually specialize in assisting clients to de-clutter indicative of a serious problem out there needing a solution. A cluttered desk is often associated with signs of a disorganized, cluttered mind and a symptom of a deeper underlying problem.

One of the tips offered by Feng Shui experts for improving the harmony of your environment is to rid yourself of clutter (which includes broken objects and those things that you don’t use) so there is something in de-cluttering, whichever way you look at it.

I have 5 easy feng-shui tips that do magic in reducing stress. Click here for more. 

You might think that having a cluttered home, work space or even car is not a big deal and that you will get around to cleaning up when you have the time and energy, but hey, have you ever considered the impression that it makes on others and how they view you?

If not for yourself, then perhaps for the sake of appearances in front of others, one could possibly consider a scheduled de-clutter session? Put it into your weekly to do list, and reward yourself on completion of this important task.

Depending upon what your clutter is composed of and where it is appearing in your life, it can tell a lot about you, your personality, and the state of your life and areas of stress requiring addressing.  As an example, I am going to refer to 3 areas though there are of course many others one can think of.


Office/work space clutter

Your office space, whether it is a home office or in a corporate office represents your area professional growth. Too much clutter and disorganization indicates a sense of lack of control over your career path including being overwhelmed and job dissatisfaction.


Your Vehicle – clutter




Your vehicle is symbolic of your progress and movement in life. Even in dream analysis, the vehicle is symbolic of your body, which houses your soul. Clutter in this area could indicate that you are subconsciously not willing to move ahead and are restricted by the past or personal limiting beliefs.


Financial clutter

Financial clutter takes the form of pending bills be they utility bills, credit card bills, poor savings habits, unread magazine subscriptions (the ones where you want the free gift for whatever reason but don’t read the magazine) and bad spending habits.

Financial clutter can point towards your inner insecurity and worries about your financial future. For some, it is transference of their inner emotional turmoil onto material goods under the excuse of retail therapy instead of facing the problems that they might have and dealing with situations head on.

The key to handling clutter and the related stress it creates is to firstly get rid of the clutter –

– If they are objects that need to be thrown away, just throw them away;

– If there are items lying around that you don’t use but can be useful to others, donate them to a worthy organisation that can use them; or

-Sell your usable clutter on the numerous websites available for resale and convert your clutter into good cash. (I have yet to meet a person who says they have enough cash or don’t need more cash!)

On a more long term basis, address the emotional issues that underlie the clutter in the first place. If you can deal with it yourself that is great otherwise consider seeking help from family, friends and, if required, even professional help whether it is a coach, counselor or therapist.

With this two pronged approach, you can rid yourself of clutter for good and remedy an often overlooked stress trigger.

I’m curious, have you ever had a clutter issue? How did you deal with it?

Share your experience in the comments box below and help other readers with their clutter challenge. Thanks!


If you know that clutter is the bane of your life and are ready to do something about it, then I invite you to check out my 21 Day Clutter removal challenge where we do both the Inner and Outer Work for tackling Clutter.  Click on the below image to learn more.


21 Days from Chaos to Order - Clutter Challenge




Written By: Vatsala Shukla


This post was originally published on 16 October 2011. It has been updated on 23 October 2018 for new information.

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28 Responses to “Want to reduce Stress? You Need to clear Clutter”

  1. Kimber says:

    What a fantastic post! My goal today: get the clutter out of my car. I keep meaning to do it, but today, it’s getting done. 🙂 Thanks for the motivation!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      The poor car and trunk do get cluttered without our even realizing it and I’m thrilled that the post is motivating you to get rid of the clutter. Interestingly, when I asked a recent group during a clutter challenge about the trunks of their cars and introduced the term ‘carbage’ – when the trunk is full or garbage or clutter, quite a few of them decided to do some car cleaning. So you are not alone, Kimber!

  2. A few years ago I outsourced my business bookeeping to an accountant friend and I prepared for her annual visit.I decluttered my desk and shelves. Before leaving she asked me to be better organized for our next visit. I did so and to my dismay she said, “Insufficient”. Put everything in files/folders. No loose papers.

    I followed her advice and cant wait til she comes next month.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Accountants and auditors are very specific about files, folders and not leaving papers around in case a valuable document gets lost in a pile of papers. All the best with your accountant friend’s visit next month, I’m sure she’ll be pleased with your effort, Roslyn.

  3. I am always in de-clutter mode. Since my home and studio are the same space I am surrounded by art supplies, books, etc. (It was in a barn but weather has made me need to move all in with me.) It isn’t bad (in my eyes) but would be if I didn’t do a bit everyday. One trick I learned long ago that helps is that every time I leave a room, take something that belongs to where I am going. Also, yes, going through stuff and letting go.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Looks like you are on top of your de-clutter game, Kathryn. The first thing that one can do to keep a space organized and uncluttered is to place them in their rightful place and yes, regularly go through items and check if they need to be binned, sold or even donated to a cause that can use the item. More space and power for your wonderful art works!

  4. This is a very interesting topic, as we are living in a society where people are collecting more and more stuff and the idea of accumulating more, seems to have permeated our last few decades. I totally understand how clutter can create unnecessary stress and how choosing to simplify and give yourself space can be very freeing indeed. I come from a family of pack-rats and must admit I have a lot of beautiful collections, however, they do become somewhat overpowering when they take over your space. Appreciate your info and suggestions in this piece!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thank you Beverley. I agree we live in an era of collecting and acquisition which can inadvertently result in clutter and space shortage. Planned storage of collections is a good option so that you regain space. What I find most cluttering is the broken pairs of shoes or utensils that we intend to get repaired but never do or the doubles of items which aren’t required and can be disposed off for some good money or donated. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  5. Cher says:

    I am a clutter person… Not sure why, but I am and have been working on it getting rid of it. It is definitely one of my goals for the year! Thank you for the tips and motivation!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      At some level we all have a tendency to create clutter, Cher, even if we don’t realize it. That is one of the key areas that I am coaching on in my 21 Days from Chaos to Order Clutter Challenge. Best of luck with your 2015 de-clutter goal!

  6. I love a clean desk and work area. Just yesterday, I found a way to clear the cables from my desk and it made my whole day! My home office desk seems to gather more junk. Thanks for the inspiration to get it cleared off so I enjoy working there more and can do so with better focus.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      That sounds wonderful, Shannon. Good for you!An ideal way to ensure that your home office desk stays neat is to mark it a no-go zone for others and treat it as a sacred space. The very thought will keep your desk clutter free.

  7. Caroline says:

    My husband and I are total opposites. I am the clutterer and he is the organiser. I and much better now than I was when we first got married. I always claimed I knew where things were but that wasn’t always strictly true. I am much better now but, you are right, when I get stressed or loose focus my desk is the first thing to suffer. However, I do then enjoy the feeling when I clear the chaos because I know I am back on track.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      The cluttered desk is a wonderful visual signal for you to slow down and use stress management tools to build resilience, Caroline. There is something empowering about removing clutter. I often notice that the room appears brighter and there is a lift to my mood. More power to you to keep control of your desk!

  8. What a great subject, Vatsala! I did such a good decluttering when I set my office, and now I see it’s slowly getting into its old relatively messy shape. I’ll start slow with one portion at a time to clean it up. Thanks for the motivation!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thank you Delia!One area at a time is good way to get organized and rid of the mess. One of the biggest culprits in home offices is paper. I tackle it by putting any important paper into marked plastic envelopes and then, once a month file them in their proper folders or bin the paper if it is no longer relevant. Here’s to organized home offices!

  9. Such great information! Thank you. I am inspired to ONCE AGAIN de-clutter and appreciate the connection with feng shui which I practice.

    I actually teach a course “The Art of Decluttering: Feng Shui Your Desk for Greater Creativity & Clarity.”

    Maybe we should collaborate–east meets west–and offer a webinar or mini-course in 2019.
    Namaste~ L

  10. Leila says:

    Clutter oh God!
    I can’t seem to get rid of items in my closet. I keep giving away but it still looks cluttered. I can’t find anything especially when am in a hurry.
    That should be my goal I think. De clutter my closet. I get weary when I think I have to search for something there.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      I think we all have a challenge with our closet and especially clothes, Leila. And even shoes that we think we’ll get repaired but never get around to it. 🙂 The best way to tackle that is with pure detachment or promise yourself that you will donate it to a good cause.

  11. I agree with everything in this article. In the past 6 months I have had all 3 of my children move back home and my niece move in. The clutter as everyone is trying to find their space and flow does drive me batty!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      With 4 children in the house, I can imagine what’s happening, Crystal. I’m sure things will settle down, otherwise you’ll have to read them the riot act. 🙂

  12. I have downsized and simplified three times in four years and am not down to living my life and not letting my “stuff” live me. Freedom! Great post.

  13. Andrea says:

    Excellent post. There’s an ongoing de-cluttering project in our home, largely as the result of combining households and then moving. We have a semi-permanent donation box that we take to the neighborhood thrift store every week. This one supports the local food bank so we really like doing it. And the space-clearing feels good, too.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Space clearing clears the energy of the home and if you look carefully, Andrea, the lighting in the house gets brighter too. Giving away what we don’t use or need to someone who would benefit is also good karma.

  14. CK Kochis says:

    Wonderful article! It’s amazing how good I feel after de-cluttering. Thanks for sharing your pearls of wisdom. I will have to check out that book!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      I know the feeling, Cindy. I always feel lighter and brighter too. The book is really worth checking out. It was released long before Marie Kondo’s book became a rage.

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I believe the world would be a better place if high achieving professionals accepted setbacks and challenges to their careers as Wake Up Calls to embark on a Journey where their empowered course correcting actions create a New World Order that encompasses achieving their career aspirations & potential with authentic life balance.

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