The Spectrum of Clutter || Why Having Too Much "Stuff" isn't Always the Problem

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A few weeks ago, I asked my Instagram followers which “type” of clutter most weighed them down. The answers were, as you’d expect, all over the board, with most saying that physical clutter distracted them the most. But regardless of which type bogged an individual down more, one thing stood out to me as I read the comments of the photo.

Not one person said they felt like clutter didn’t affect them.

No one said that they had all aspects of their lives squared away and didn’t struggle with at least one area.

This struck me because, despite our obsession with Kon Mari-ing everything, downsizing, and ensuring our wardrobes are neatly edited and capsuled, it’s still not enough. We still feel stressed. We still feel overwhelmed…sometimes (for me at least) it’s an overall feeling of overwhelm that I can’t peg on anything in particular.

These moments of “general overwhelm”, I’ve learned, usually boil down to an excess in one of the following areas that I haven’t recognized until it’s too late.

Sure, we can’t weed out every aspect of stress or “extra” from our lives, but we can do our best to recognize when we’re doing too much, owning too much, or taking on too much and learn when to cut back. It’s been one of the healthiest mental exercises I’ve started doing for myself, and I hope that once you’ve become more aware of which area of clutter stresses you the most, it will do the same for you too. Learning to think of clutter in a broader sense can be much more helpful than you’d realize.

I’d love to hear which clutter-style you most relate to in the comments below ;)

*Disclaimer, I don’t claim to be an expert in any of these areas, nor am I a psychologist. The following areas are simply describing things I’ve noticed both in my own life and in the lives of those I love.

  1. Physical Clutter

The first “pillar of clutter” gets the worst rap of them all, likely because it’s the most visible and the most publicized. Physical clutter is out in the open, for you (and everyone who enters your home) to see. Our possessions are a reflection of what we value, so of course, they’re the first thing that gets attention when we get stressed or in need of a detox.

For some, myself included, untidiness is a major area of stress. I usually feel like I can’t sit down to write or be creative unless my space is at least a little bit cleaned up and I have a cup of coffee in hand. I’m drawn to aesthetics, so I like my space to reflect the kind of creativity I’m trying to conjure up. That’s likely why I was so drawn to minimalism after becoming a mom — it felt like the only way I could regain a sense of control and identity. Lots of you said the same thing on Instagram. You feel like you have too much stuff, too many clothes, too many unnecessary “junk drawers”.

Clearing out this clutter is a great and important step towards feeling more free, but it only scratches the surface.

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2. Mental Clutter

It usually takes a bit of a “self-discovery” journey to figure out whether mental clutter weighs you down or if you’re able to stay more or less “on task” when it comes to your thoughts. Through learning more about myself via the Enneagram, I’ve learned that as a type 9, I have an exceptionally hard time learning which tasks to prioritize. This often leads to a brain fog where I’m aware of everything I need to do, but can’t quite nail down which item needs checked off first. Usually, I end up doing something less important (scrolling Instagram or picking up after the girls for the thousandth time) instead of doing the more intimidating but important things first.

Mental clutter can look different for everyone though. Some people are able to mentally keep track of everything (Type 1’s i’m looking at you), but for others, it’s really their mental clutter that weighs them down more than anything else.

3. Calendar Clutter

Oh, the glorification of staying busy. We get bored, so we schedule more. All too often, we subconsciously assign ourselves value through how many playdates, or meetings, or business calls we schedule for a particular week. How much we do, or achieve, instead of who we are. Having things to do somehow makes us feel more important/valuable/validated.

I wrote a few years ago about this “glorification”, making the case that being busy isn’t better. In this post, I break down a list of “why’s” for doing something — for example, I sometimes sign up for something because I think it will make someone else happy, instead of doing it because I want to do it.

I try to use the same “spark joy” mentality that I use for the belongings I keep when it comes to the way I schedule my time.

4. Emotional Clutter

Physical clutter gets a bad rap, but it only scratches the surface when it comes to other types of clutter than can weigh you down. Which type do you relate to most?

For those who feel before analyzing (feelers vs. thinkers), emotional clutter can be debilitating. Oftentimes, this boils down to drama with family or friends or stressing over an important decision and being unable to prioritize anything else.

In cases like these, it’s so important to recognize which relationships are an added weight to your life without adding joy or edification. Of course, some relationships we can’t cut out fully, but there are most certainly times when saying goodbye to a toxic or unhealthy relationship is just the thing to help your mind heal and de-clutter.


Clutter, being the buzz word that it is, can be tricky to nail down. Clearing your life from clutter completely isn’t necessarily possible (or healthy), but being aware of your clutter stressors can help you live life more fully and simply.

6 Tips For Keeping Your Home Clean And Clutter-Free All The Time

Keeping a clean home in your daily life can be quite exhausting. Even to those who are stay-at-home parents or work from home, cleaning can be low on the priority list. However, in order to maintain a balanced lifestyle both in and out of the home, it's essential. You don't have to deep clean everyday, instead choose small steps each day to make the burden lighter. These six practices are simple enough that you can put them to use right now. 

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1. Pick Up As You Go

This is key when it come to keeping your home clutter-free. Yes, it can be irritating (especially when you feel like you're constantly nagging others to do it!) but its a great way to keep everyone responsible. Use this method throughout the day so that by nighttime your work is practically complete. 

2. Use A Chore Chart

Whether you purchase a pre-made chart or create your own, utilizing one is a handy way to keep yourself and everyone else informed about chores around the house. Assign names to each chore or order them based on priority; daily, weekly, monthly. Either way, you'll create a routine for housekeeping that will make it easier, more efficient, and less stressful.

3. Designate Areas For Specific Functions

Has that dresser in your front hallway become a messy catch-all and the OCD in you just can't stand it? Try this: put a bowl there and embrace what its already become. Does your mail always end up cluttering the dining room table? Then put a basket there and name it just that: the mail box! By giving in to seemingly negative tendencies, you can transform them into an opportunity for cleanliness and organization. 

4. Keep The Number Of Items In Sight To A Minimum 

This may sound like an obvious tip, but I assure you that it not only creates a more welcoming home environment, it also gives you mental peace. Of course items that are functional and necessary should be displayed and used. But other items such as unused toys or books, seasonal items, holiday decor, etc. should be kept in storage (in whatever form that may be). Ask yourself, "does this have a use in my daily life?" Limiting the number of items in the open forces your to separate what is extra from what is necessary. 

5. Rearrange Rooms 

Your couch isn't screwed to the floor, so don't be afraid of rearranging the setup every now and then. You may discover an arrangement you like better. My husband and I rearrange our living room and dining room every few months and each time we think, "why didn't we have it set up like this before?". Plus it's an opportunity to minimize and create new white space. You may also find long lost items that you either don't want or items that you love and want to display. 

6. Donate Often 

Donating clothing and other items is a great way to give while decluttering your own space. Through donating, you may be creating more jobs, giving to those who cannot afford. How often and what you donate will vary, but some realistic goals would be once a month, during spring cleaning, or clothing drives at a local church. You can donate items that are no longer useful, clothes or accessories no longer consistent with your style, or anything that fails to make you happy.

May these tips inspire and motivate you to keep a clean and stress-free home always. Remember, it's all about the mindset: when you stop thinking of cleaning as another thing to do on your life and start embracing it as a value, it becomes a natural extension of your daily life. And don't forget the whole family, household, apartment, or dorm is involved. 

Tips For Creating Your First Capsule Wardrobe

*Scoll through to get your FREE guide to simplify your closet!*

Let's get one thing out of the way before anything elseI am not a fashionista in any sense of the word. I've never been one to spend excessive amounts on clothes- in fact I'll usually wear the pieces I have into the ground before I go out and buy new things. I love thrifting and garage sale-ing. Ask my husband- he usually has to tell me to go buy new clothes. 

Don't get me wrong, I love dressing up and looking like I put effort in to myself. I love clothes and the way they individuate people and are a little bit like an art canvas that you wear around on your body. BUT clothes are not my "thing" and try as I may I'll never be the girl who has a closet full of brand name pieces that she can effortlessly pull off- to the envy of every one else in the room. Shopping- and all the options and styles out there, kind of stresses me out, honestly. BUT, despite my low-maintenance approach to clothes, I've completely fallen in love with capsule wardrobes. 

Wait, wait. What is a Capsule Wardrobe in the first place?

When I first heard about the growing trend of creating a capsule wardrobe, I was skeptical. I mean, purposely choosing to wear the same set number of pieces for a whole season seemed a little bit ridiculous and kind of needlessly "strict".

But then I read more. As you all know, simplicity and minimalism are both very important to me, as is anything that helps to put the focus onto the immediate moment and away from unimportant things.

That is kind of what capsule wardrobes aim to do. I read Unfancy, a blog by Caroline Rector who has largely spurred the movement on. She defines a capsule wardrobe as "a mini wardrobe made up of versatile pieces that you totally LOVE to wear". From there, I was hooked. I had never really thought about intentionality and clothes being compatible and the notion of capsule wardrobe completely opened my eyes to something that I think can be very healthy and beneficial.

Rector's capsules are usually around 37 pieces (EVERYTHING. Clothes, pants, dresses, shoes... except workout clothes, accessories, underwear, undershirts and special occasion clothes) that she can easily mix and match to create outfits for an entire season. Some people have even gone as extreme as creating an all seasons capsule, or limiting the number of pieces even more.

The beauty of capsule wardrobes is that they are totally customizable. If you don't like the basic, neutral look that Rector's capsules feature, include clothes that are more your style.It's the premise that stays the same: living with less in every area of life is usually a good thing. Including our clothes. It allows us to be intentional with our purchases, buying things that are not only good quality but pieces we LOVE and feel awesome in.

One day, after looking looking through my closet (which was in two separate rooms in our house for two reasons: I had WAY too many clothes, and we still haven't gotten our house organized enough) and feeling like I had nothing to wear, I knew something had to change.

How does it work? 

1 // DOWNSIZE. 

This is definitely a no brainer. The first things to go were the clothes that I haven't worn in over a year (we all know we have them...). I whittled down my closet to pieces that I couldn't part with that I would wear NOW, not in a few months or next year. I ended up getting rid of probably 75% of my clothes.

2 // DONATE OR SELL.

This is where the budget piece comes in. I had a garage sale with my mom where I sold not just clothes but other random clutter (which feels SO amazing to get rid of, trust me) and made enough to supplement my new clothes for my capsule. We donated what we didn't sell, so that it wouldn't just be sitting around in boxes creating more clutter.

I also had an Instagram "shop my closet" sale for the items that weren't garage sale material, but that I still wanted to get rid of, which helped downsize even further.

3 // PLAN. 

This was the really fun part for me. It is all about intentionality and buying exactly what you need. I did all my shopping online, since our options are rather limited here.

I used Un-Fancy's free wardrobe planner, which was super helpful. I definitely recommend it if you're considering starting a capsule! I planned out exactly what I wanted my wardrobe to look like, what colors I wanted, what styles, what pieces I've always dreamed of having but never wanted to spend the money on.....

4 // SHOP

I created a secret Pinterest board for all the items I was considering, to keep them all organized. Then, when I'd found everything I needed, I bought them!

That was definitely the most money I'd spent on clothes in one sitting since high school- and it felt great because it wasn't a spur of the moment purchase. I knew that I would actually wear what I was buying and it wouldn't just sit in my closet two months later collecting dust. I bought things that were high quality and a little bit more expensive, because I knew that I couldn't just make impulse purchases whenever I felt like it.

5 // WEAR IT

I'm still waiting on a few of my packages to come in, but once they all get here, I will share my full capsule with you all! It ended up being WAY smaller than Rector's which surprised me.

Stay tuned for my next post at the beginning of next month where I'll share my capsule AND tips on how to make it work for people who don't have excuses to "dress-up" a lot. You know, those of us who work from home and live in yoga pants and t-shirts. Yep. That's who I am.

Have you heard of capsule wardrobes?  What are your initial reactions to creating one?

What is a Simple Life? Five things every minimalist should cultivate

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This is definitely a post I should have written a long time ago. Since it's the whole theme of my blog and all...but I just write when the words come, I suppose.

Here at Simply Liv, my goal is to inspire you to live a life that you're excited about. A life that is simple and beautiful, even in the mundane. I strive to do that through not only practical tips and challenges, but through peeks into my own life as well, where I hope I am leading by example. I want to create a community around this idea that simplicity is better.

The problem is, the culture we live in instills in us a "more" mindset from a very young age. In order to be happy, we are told (both directly and indirectly) that we need more- more money, more friends, more stuff, more letters behind our name...just more.

But we know, either through cold, hard experience or through a kind voice who taught us, that more never really satisfies us. The pressure to have more is overwhelming and all consuming and if you're immersed in that mindset for a while, it can be very hard to break. But the desire for more (except where healthy ambition and goals are concerned), often leads to a downward spiral. We get consumed by our quest for more, eventually leaving us with less than we started with.

While I haven't considered myself a "true minimalist" yet, I have way more things than I should and often catch myself longing for more- I believe there are ways we all can and should live, if simplicity is our goal. These five points are my "definition" for simplicity- it's not an exhaustive list or a textbook description, just what I have learned is important to live a life that is simple and full.

A Simple Life is: 

1// Intentional:

To live a life that is simple, you must be trying to. Duh, Olivia. But really, simplicity doesn't come naturally for most of us. We have to look at our lives, our mindset and our heart to make sure we are cultivating the right attitude, and that requires a lot of intentionality. Be intentional about your relationships, what you bring into your home- everything.

2// Uncluttered:

This is the "stuff" point in the list. There isn't a right or wrong answer here, friends. Like most of these points, it will vary from one person to the next. But acquiring more things shouldn't be the goal of any minimalist. That's not to say don't treat yourself, or buy nice things- but don't hoard or buy more than you need.

3// Authentic:

Authenticity is one of my favorite words. I love being around people who are real.

We all know them- the one's who don't put on a mask. They're genuine, whether they're having the worst day of their life or are on cloud nine. Have authentic friends and be an authentic friend. It's at the heart of simple living.

4// Content:

This is along the lines of being uncluttered, though this aims more at the heart than at physical possessions. Contentment is something I have always struggled with, which is why it is so important to me. I have to be very intentional about cultivating a heart of contentment, with lots of prayer, because I tend to always want more. If I'm not happy in the now, then I'm bound to live a very sad life. I'm striving to be the best I can be where I am planted, knowing that when it is time to move on, God will lead us when and where we are meant to go. It is a hard attitude to have.

5// Creative:

I believe a simple life is essentially a creative life. It isn't "by the book". It often leads you into rugged, uncharted territory, perhaps physically but more often mentally and spiritually. Whether you're an artist or don't consider yourself to be a creative type- this will apply to you. You are creating the life you live, the choices you make in this moment affect where your day, week, month will go. Let's create lives that we are proud of. Be original and don't be afraid to break the mold.

Which of these do you focus on in your life? Why is living a simple life important to you?

Have a happy new week friends!

Simply,

Liv