Eliminate Clutter. Free your mind.


Many many years back, and it seems like such a long time ago-- almost another lifetime as it was before I had my children-- I used to read the self help books. I used to follow the parts that appealed to me and I used to consciously mould my way of behaviour according to what the books suggested. Needless to say I would choose the books with care, and one of the books I read very early on in my life, was 'Don't say Yes when you want to say No'. I remember following some of the exercises in the book and I remember how the book emphasised the difference between being assertive and being aggressive, and why it was important to say No. I have never had a problem saying no to people when I don't want to do something they have requested. Paulo Coelho tweeted some time ago "No" is painful, but much better than a "yes" that brings regrets. How true!

Many years back I had also read another book whose title I have now forgotten. The book had an excellent suggestion. It asked you to write down (not just think it mentally, put a pen to paper and write it down) a list of petty annoyances that you tolerate on a day to day basis. It could be something very trivial like that drawer which gets stuck, or a small tear in your favourite jacket which you have been meaning to mend, or that painting which you have been meaning to hang up. It could be something more serious like a very real threat of losing your job because the organisation you work for might be taken over, or it could be an annoying boss, or it could be frustration you feel as your children who are teenagers are not listening to you or a spouse who refuses to listen to your repeated requests about something that bothers you. Whatever be it, that is bothering you, list it down. It could be 'solvable' problems like a messy room or a pile of magazines that you have been meaning to get rid of or a phone-call that you have been meaning to make. Whatever it is ,think hard and write it down. The book said that the very act of writing it down, gave a concrete shape to minor annoyances which are really hindrances in getting what you want. Eliminating the ones over which you have control (like the tear in the jacket and the messy room) clears the energy clutter and gives a clarity to thinking. You are able to focus on your goals better. The book talked about a person who put in long hours at work and was very frustrated as he had not got that promotion that he anticipated. On the list he made, was a simple thing like 'no time to watch a sunset'. He had suppressed the little annoyances so much that he had forgotten about what mattered to him. That week he left work early and went to the park for a walk and enjoyed the beauty of the colour and life around him and watched the sunset--something that he had not done for several years! Soon after he changed jobs and was now in a job which recognised his efforts and brought great satisfaction to him.

Of course to assume that making a simple list is a solution to all your problems would be assuming too much. But the essential thing behind all this (saying no and eliminating annoyances) is basically that you are freeing your mind. You are defining your goals.

I had tried the list making exercise and I felt great satisfaction a week later when I that almost 90% of the things on my list had been taken care of! Eventually the 10% got fixed too.

Basically both these things that I mention here, saying no and getting down to things that are bothering you are taking care of the same things. They are plugging the drain on your time and life and improving the quality of living. Eliminating clutter, be it a clutter of thoughts or a clutter of objects or a clutter of minor annoyances does work and bring results that you want.

Try it and you will instantly feel a satisfaction that is hard to explain. I know it because I have experienced this several times.

What are you going to eliminate today? If you want to tell me or share your thoughts about this, I 'd love to hear what you have to say.


  1. can't but agree with you....while I am clear at de cluttering thoughts by writing it down...I am not good at decluttering everyday objects...nice post!

  2. decluttering...its really difficult sumtimes. i dont make a list, but keep thinking about doing it always....n it never happens. thanx for dis post...now i guess i shud make a list & hope to declutter often.

  3. Hey! Nice post, whenever I am really in a fix, I note down my thoughts, it really helps me out a lot.
    Don't do it always but definitely it works very well for me.

  4. Ur post really inspired me to make a list of petty annoyances...obviously, i will have to exercise my grey cells a little bit more :)

    I, too, am a big fan of self-help books though some people are quite cynical/skeptical of the same.

  5. Anonymous10:19 PM

    I totally agree with the no clutter concept! I haven't read this book, but when I am in a muddle, sorting it out on paper has always been one of my oldest habits. It makes it so much easier to prioritize. But saying No is something that I need to work consciously on. I have been a yes person all my life and it did pose me some tough situations. Thanks a ton for such a lovely post!! :-) Have a great day!

  6. Hi Preeti

    Nice post...I shall definitely read the book soon..I have a lot of trouble saying NO and it has definitely put me in some very weird situations in the past :(

    About the lists, I like the idea of putting them on paper...though lately I have begun to make mental checklists while driving..and I tick off the things that I have no control over or that are really not that important to me in the long run...works wonders for me at least! :)


  7. man i'm off to working on my list!! thanks for sharing this info with us!! and yes a very nice post here!!

    keep blogging!!

  8. wow ! this post seems to be a signal from God ! I'd just been thinking about what i should be doing to get rid of the forever tired and frustrated feeling i had...Now i know what to do !

  9. Great new mood video. One of my favourites. Love the guitar by Slash from 2:53 to 3:57 in the video.

    I too have a habit of making a "Things to do" list every now and then when I have too many chores piled up and am getting bothered by it.

    Found Paulo Coelho's tweet very true. I guess that's why he's The Paulo Coelho

  10. Anonymous7:26 AM

    Hi Preeti

    I have read that book too. And I think most woman must read the book and understand the way to say a firm NO when needed. :)

    Nice post. My dad used to say whenever you have a problem and many solutions and are not able to choose, write them on a piece of paper and then start thinking on each of the solutions. Eventually you will choose the most appropriate one. Trust me, I tried it many times after marriage when I had problems which was totally new to me. And it really did work. Another thing for you to try.

    Well, sending belated diwali wishes your way.
    And I picked up your book from Landmark this week. :)

    Best Regards.

  11. Yes, I agree. writing dowm stuff can be a powerful process :)

    Another way of removing clutter that I've come across is being focussed on the 'today' and how you are going to pass the 24 hours. instead of worrying what happened in the past and what will take place in future :D

  12. Hi PS, great post. I totally agree to the "No" bit and follow it to a great extent too. Needless to say I'm not the most popular person :) But saying "Yes" and then being frustated about it drains so much of energy. I really hate doing anything against my will "for others". But do you really think its the right approach? It does end up rubbing people the wrong way. Is it okey to be so self centered?

  13. This post comes to me at the right time, thanks for writing it

  14. Oh a lot of things...like all the dabbas mil has accumulated in the fridge! (We have 2 fridges, and today I couldn't find place for an apple, nor could I find a dabba for my lunch) :O

    But seriously, this sounds so simple yet workable. :)

  15. very nice article...i'll do that once i am back in Blore....:)

  16. Superb post Preethi.....it is a topic every person will be able to identify with. Clutter inside the mind or around us always gives tht very unrested feeling....writing it down & seeing it in B&W should give it that 'real' touch. Sometimes the simplest of ideas seen to the end gives us the greatest of satisfaction:-)).

    Thanks a lot for this post!!!!!!

  17. Usual,typical PS post!!

    Whatelse can I say, but,Thank you!!

  18. It helped a lot. Thank you.

  19. I attended a personality devlopment course called the "Landmark Education" few months back.
    There i learnt the two distintions u have mentioned in ur post.
    Its really powerful & helping me a lot.
    Sometimes i wonder why in schools & colleges they dont teach us these things.

    I hve written u a mail few days back .. but hve not received reply from U. :(

  20. Very nice post..!!
    Every 3,4 months we do a major de-cluttering by sorting and donating things like clothes,toys etc which are still in good condition..to charity. That way we get more space and peace of mind..:)

    My to-do list:-

    Gotta fix the towel rod in bathroom..!!
    Buy a pencil sharpener for my son..I forget each time I go shopping..:((

    Both have been causing their share of irritation,lately!!


  21. Writing it down always helps....
    Whenever i am in a situation where in i am not able to decide on something , i write it down in a paper the + and - of what if say "YES" and the + and - of saying a "NO" to a decision...It has always helped me in making a deciding.

    This i learnt from my grandma :)

  22. Totally tangent, when I read about the 'sunset' bit I suddenly remembered this book 'Half the Sky'. As I said totally tangent!

    Now that read you and just coz you asked, I'll finally get on top of that treadmill I purchased a few days ago and get that cosmetic and accessories table sorted out! :)

    Gawd! i've chores of weekdays too! :(


  23. I just asked a friend to do this (write it down and make a list) when he vented out his frustration on how much stuff he has going on, and how he's "losing it" :).

    I do this regularly, not just for personal stuff but also at work....I put reminders of many little things on my calendar everyday, so that I don't forget....and also so that I don't get paranoid....

    Very nice post - at a appropriate time too, coz as we end our year on Diwali and begin a new year (gujarati), its important to eliminate clutter and start fresh!

  24. Great advice Preeti!
    It is true that these little annoyances hinder our day-to-day, sometimes they keep us from doing our tasks in the best way and they undermine us without us even noticing. And then we can get to the bigger stuff that gets in our way, already knowing that all problems can be tackled.

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  26. I do the exercise of changing my bad habits too :) :) ! I keep asking myself why i think or behave the way i do or what changes should come in me and i sometimes get a simple answer that can help me change...

    though changing is very very difficult ! :D :D but i am trying

    Again this post is special...it couldn't be at a better time (for me ...) since i am clouded with lots of cluttering thoughts and i will try you idea...

    probably it will work for me ! At least the hope that it might work brings you half way out of it...

    Thanks ! Keep posting such lovely things !

  27. nice ideas to clear up a cluttered mind...:)

  28. I completely agree with you here, Preeti! This is something I have been doing since I was in school and it is now my habit. That's why I keep a sticky and a pen handy always, helps to eliminate lot of clutter and gives a greater sense of satisfaction in day-to-day life!

  29. Nice post!
    I'll implement your ideas right away! :)

  30. Hi Preethi,

    This post of yours have come at such a time that I have to consider it a sign for me. My life at work has become such a clutter and I could almost feel the negative vibrations starting to go out from the moment I even think of certain people that the past couple of days I had decided to write down what is good and bad about my work life just so that I could be clear in my mind.
    Thank you so much. This is an added impetus to do that fast.

  31. Aparna: :-)

    Wanderlust:Glad it helped.

    Anu: It works! Trust me :)

    Vidya: True! I too have been a list maker.

    Chitz:Thank you.

    Radhika: thank you and happy you found it useful!

    DM: Thank you! Very true--smaller things can be stumbling blocks without our realising.

    Shachi: yes--decluttering a space is so important. Good advice you gave your friend.

    Sparkling: Totally tangent means what? :P Me not familiar with ad-jargon :P :) Guessing it is something nice. We usually use tangent as in 'gone off on a tangent' which means side tracked. Therefore asking :)

    Sundari: Your grandmom was wise!

    Geetha: Hope you have got that sharpener by now :) Thank you.

    Guru: Already mailed you--no reply!

    Discoveringself: Glad it did!

    Savitha: than k you :)

    Reflections: True: Sometimes simple things are so effective! Thanks!

    Deepti: ok :)

    Meira: Hope it works for u!

    Srivats: Thanks :)

    SS: saying NO isnt same as being self centred. I am quite popular :) and I do say no unreasonable requests. You must read he book which explain celarly the difference between selfishness and saying no.

    Sunshine: My dad used to say the same too!

  32. Ajay: Oh I too LOVE that guitar bit! :)

    Mistress of Art: Really gald it helped :)

    Parv: Glad you found it useful.

    Ayush: The book is worth reading.

    Thoughtfultrain: Sorry, I havent yet been able to reply to your mail. Will do soon. Book is worth reading.

    Palsworld: I used to read them when I was a teen and in my early twenties. Now I am an old dog :)

    Thinker: Thank you.

    Chandni: Havent yet been able to leave a comment on your blog. Will do so soon. I did read the post. Congrats on your blog!

    Vinoo: Thanks!!

  33. I am someone who just can't say a "No".. Guess I need to get this book soon.. n yes I need to de-clutter too.. mostly my mind - all the emotions n sentiments n what not.. will make the list soon.. Thanks a lot for this simple suggestion :)

  34. My 'tangent' exactly meant the same. Didn't you see how side tracked my comment was? :D

  35. I've been a sucker for the self help genre too! I shall definitely try listing the daily annoyances. Sounds good if it can bring some peace of mind :D

    Saying NO...Very difficult to do, but is any day better than saying Yes and wishing every moment you hadn't. The Paulo Coehlo you are referring to IS Paulo Coehlo as in the one from Alchemist??!! WOW :D Loved his book :D And that famous quote which said that if you really want something, the entire universe conspires to give it to you :D

  36. Thats really true....Writing it down really helps a lot..i am doing it !!
    But as i dont get a pen and paper always i use to type in my mobile..and save it as a draft SMS... :)

    And i've been an invisible visitor to your blog these days.. i dont comment more because i feel shy..today i ve done it...!!

  37. I loved the book "Don't say Yes when u want to say No" i remember reading it in college...nice post

  38. Nice post..I have not read the first book but I have read the second book which asks you to list down annoyances ..It always works for me..The name of the books is Coach yourself to success by Talane Miedanar.


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