What is clutter? The following thoughts may be helpful:

It’s clutter if you say it is.  I have a friend whose small apartment is crammed with china and tchotchkes.  Every surface is covered by the wonderful gifts she has received, and the beautiful items she has collected over the years.  She loves what she has.  She is constantly rearranging her collection, polishing items as they become dusty, and displaying them in different ways.  Is this clutter?  No, she is simply being Loud and Proud with what she has.  Another friend has a shoe collection worthy of Carrie Bradshaw.   Are they stored timidly, in dusty shoeboxes?  Absolutely not!  She proudly displays them on beautiful bookshelves in her bedroom.

If you use it, love it, feel uplifted by it, and have positive sentimental associations with it, it is not clutter.  If it is causing you irritation, guilt, shame, stress, or fear, it is almost certainly clutter.  Anything can classify as clutter: too many unread emails in your inbox, a floor full of clothes, a storage space crammed with anonymous boxes, overlapping social agreements that leave you flustered and hurried, an inherited piece of furniture not to your taste…

When having a struggle on whether to keep something or not, check in with your gut feeling.  If you are feeling torn, there is usually a “should” or a “fear” involved.  For instance you may be feeling guilty about a gift you received, but do not like; or feeling fearful that if you give something away, that somehow you will not be able to find a worthy replacement; or perhaps you “should” hold onto something you don’t really like, because it would be a “waste” if you replaced it with something that you actually love.  Be aware that this is a scarcity mentality.   The world is full of what you need and love – you do not have to settle for broken, ugly, or boring.   This belief will work within even the smallest budget, with a creative eye and a bit of patience.

Remember, you make the rules about what to keep.  (The exceptions are paperwork and financial records, but that is a topic for another day).  Is it clutter, or is it a beautiful collection to be Loud and Proud about?

Tiny task for the day: pick an item that you do not like, but have become resigned to living with.    Resolve that you do not have to accept this state of affairs.  Plant the seed of creative options!