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One of the first steps to personal growth is to declutter your creative space (physically and mentally).  I read an article some time ago that said that a sign of depression is a cluttered space (home, bedroom, office, etc.) I didn’t completely agree with the article because it made it seem like an absolute that those with cluttered bedrooms or homes are depressed.  I resisted that thought process because like many people there are times when our space is cluttered. Because I wanted to somehow justify my clutter I resisted the very thought that this could be true. Now if it read that a cluttered bedroom can cause depression I would readily agree with that statement. Simply because that makes sense to me.

As I pondered the implication of the clutter=depression concept, and because I had always cautioned my clients and students on being close minded just because a revelation hit home, I tried to see how a cluttered room was a sign of depression. Here’s what I found.

When your creative space is cluttered your mind literally goes into overload and shuts down because it doesn’t know what to tackle next. The task seems so overwhelming that we just shut down and our minds and bodies becomes lethargic at the least amount of exertion. When the mind shuts down the body models this behavior. These are absolute signs of depression. From a personal and professional growth perspective the path is unclear and so we stop moving at all.

The lesson learned is that before you can begin any personal or professional development you should declutter your creative space. If your space both physically and mentally is cluttered you will have to work that much harder to understand the lessons being taught. There is way too much clutter that the information has to process through in order to get to the place in your mind that provides clarity of information.

In the article “Clutter Effects on your Life”…, Katie Weber, Feng Shui consultant concurs that clutter make you feel tired, hopeless, out of control and even poor. She further exerts that it can have damaging effects on the organs in your body.

In the article “Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies The Mental Cost of Clutter”, psychologist Sherrie Carter shares the mental cost of clutter. The following are a few of effects of clutter.

  • Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important.
  • Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on.
  • Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.

While the obvious thing to do would be to declutter your creative space, as simple as it seems it is not very simple. If it were clutter would not be an issue. Clutter happens through a process of time. It is often not an overnight thing. We have to analyze what causes the clutter in the first place and then set about to acquire and maintain a clutter free environment. For the first couple of days it is important to become conscious of how clutter happens in your life. When you pick up a piece of paper where do you put after you are finished?  What happened to that book you were reading last night? What about the shoes you took off after work? Becoming conscious of your habits can help you form better habits.

A cluttered physical space is a replica of a cluttered mental space. It simply means that the mind is overstimulated and is lacking order. Many people function in this state of chaos on a daily basis. Functioning is not synonymous with thriving. Functioning is merely surviving.

For those who may find it difficult to declutter, the following are five steps to decluttering your space and maintaining a clutter-free environment.


It is important to acknowledge how clutter may hinder your personal and or professional growth. If you can’t see it believe others .Because of the clutter it may be hard to actually process the effects.  Make a personal acknowledgement that clutter is hindering your growth in some way. Commit to change it. This commitment should be a covenant with yourself. A great way to stay committed is to share your commitment with a friend or coach that will hold you accountable to your commitment. When you are really committed to change you will have no problem being accountable to another person.

Complete Overhaul

Some coaches will recommend taking it a step at a time to declutter your space. I agree but what I have found that works for many of my clients is a complete overhaul. Find a big box or several big boxes and just dump everything that’s out of place into this box or boxes. When the space is clear you have more clarity and now you can take some time to find places for everything that’s in those boxes.  The key is to pull something from that box every single day until that box is clear. Do not make the mistake of letting the box just sit there. It defeats the process of decluttering.

Give Consent for Accountability

Give someone permission to hold you accountable. Especially if you choose the big box route you should give your coach or friend permission to ask you about that box on a daily basis. They should be able to pop in anytime to see how you are doing with your decluttering process.  Papers should be filed neatly away in folders and file cabinets. Clothes should be put in like drawers. Socks with socks, undergarments with undergarments, etc. Shoes should have their own space in the closet, etc.   If your creative space is your office you should take the time to make folders and categorize items.  During this process. Before leaving the office everyday it should be in order for the next day. You will find yourself becoming more productive when you have an orderly creative space.

Make it Fun

Don’t think of decluttering as awful. Think of it as a new beginning. Something that you are doing to develop a more disciplined you. With that said, ask friends and family for help. Share your goals with them. Be authentic. It is OK to be vulnerable when we are growing. Ask them to come over and help you get started. Make it a declutter party. These friends will also be on your accountable list. If they give of their time they should expect for you to keep your word. If you are going at it alone put on some of your favorite music and rock out as you are decluttering. You will find yourself smiling as you reach every declutter milestone.

Set a Goal

Goal setting and reaching your goals is an important part of your personal development. Set a goal to maintain an orderly creative space for a minimum of 60 days. Mark off on your calendar every day that you are able to keep your commitment to yourself. Find a way to reward yourself for keeping this commitment. Perhaps you need a new chair, or file cabinet or fancy cook case. Reward yourself for being true to yourself. After 60 days of consistent commitment to a clutter free space you can safely say that you have formed a habit. Continue this new great habit as you form more positive habits.

This new clutter free lifestyle will not come without its challenges. You may also find that it’s hard to transition this clutter free environment from your office to your home or vice versa. That’s okay. Keep your commitment to the one space you committed to. We say your creative space because we want that one space to be the space where you go to think, work and be creative.  After a short amount of time you will find your creative juices flowing and you will be able to get more done in a day. The results will be so powerful that as you reach daily milestones your motivation will kick in to make all of your space clutter free.

The key is consistency. Forming the habit. Once the habit is formed it will be very hard to break the habit again. As you begin to enjoy the effects of your clutter free life you will ask yourself why I waited so long.

Katie Weber(2010) shares that decluttering your space gives you a sense of clam, gives you back your health, and gives you wealth and puts you back in control of your life. Truly, your personal growth puts you back in charge.


Carter, Sherrie., ( 2012) Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies The mental cost of clutter. Retrieved from

Weber, K, (2010) Clutter’s Effects on Your Life – How clutter affects you and what to do about it retrieved from


Tonya White Johnson

I am Tonya White Johnson, a wife, mother, professor, entrepreneur, small business owner, management and marketing consultant, life and career coach, mentor and author. I am inspired to lead. To leave a path that others may follow. I am inspired to help others reach their destiny. I am inspired to create positive change. I am inspired to help you find your passion and live the abundant life you were meant to live.