What is Clutter?
Written by Lisa Montanaro | May 19, 2011

What is clutter? The answer depends on whom you ask. For many disorganized people, nothing is clutter (a definition that often leads in the extreme to hoarding). For others, clutter is anything that piles up above and beyond their normal possessions. I like to say that clutter is like a weed in a garden. It is something that doesn’t belong. Either you did not plant it, it got carried along to a new location where it shouldn’t be, or it has outgrown its space. It can even be a plant or flower that you planted and loved at one time, but now decide no longer belongs. In other words, clutter is anything that you don’t love, want, need or use.

Regardless of whether the clutter is physical or mental, it is caused by a combination of forces that creates disorganization. Your role is to assess why the clutter is in your home, office and life and then get ready to get rid of it. Th e best motivation for clearing clutter is not to focus on the time and energy needed to sort out your stuff, but to ask yourself, “What am I creating space for?”

The only way you can effectively declutter is to eliminate the constant chorus of “But I might need that someday.” Ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen if you donate, recycle or toss the item. If you can live with the answer, get rid of it!

The key to dealing with clutter is being able to assess your needs and motivation in order to find out why you are keeping your clutter. Once you understand your motivations, you can eliminate clutter for good — and greatly improve your sense of inner well-being.

Meet the Author

Helping others be the best versions of themselves gets me jazzed!

I’ve worn many hats in my lifetime—often at the same time—while enjoying fulfilling careers. I’ve been a performer, teacher, sign language instructor, lawyer, career counselor, law professor, coach, consultant, mediator, entrepreneur, speaker, trainer, writer, and author. 

I’m an eternal optimist and life-long learner, constantly researching ways to improve personal and professional effectiveness. And it brings me great joy to then pass on the results of that persistent curiosity to my clients and audiences. 

Of all the career hats I’ve been privileged to wear, my favorite is owner of this business since 2002. Why? Because it provides me the opportunity to work with wonderful organizational and individual clients. On any given day, I get to connect deeply with audiences, work with dedicated teams, improve workplaces, watch clients have a-ha moments, and know I’ve made a difference in their lives and careers. And that is very satisfying.