Your Brain on Stuff

Posted by Janice Russell onFebruary07,2011

Stuff is physical clutter in your space. Stuff is also tasks on your schedule. Internal clutter impacts both types of stuff. What is internal clutter? It is the voices you hear in your head when you try to declutter and organize.

Does this sound familiar? There's a pair of pants on a chair that have been there awhile. At the time they were placed on the chair they were too long and needed to be hemmed. "Not a problem," you said. "I'll take care of it soon." Now, two years later, you aren't even sure if they still fit. But you hesitate to put them in your donate pile because they might fit and they only have to be hemmed. They are a perfectly good pair of pants that you paid good money for.

Did you hear it? Did you hear all the brain chatter? It might have been your mother's voice that used to say, "If we paid good money for something, we have to wear it until it wears out." Or it might be another voice that says, "It's just so wasteful that I never wore these pants." It doesn't matter whose voice it is, the problem is that these internal voices are impacting your ability to get and stay organized. According to the Urban Dictionary1 brain chatter is the high intensity inner monologue (in some cases dialogue) that distracts or interrupts activities in the external world.

The problem is these competing voices often lead to overwhelm or inaction around declutter and organizing. To complicate matters, this brain chatter increases incrementally according to the amount of extra stuff in your space because of the many decisions to be made.

  • Do you keep or delete the item?
  • If you keep it, what room does it belong in and where does it go within the room?
  • If you delete it, do you donate, sell or toss?
  • When you decide to donate, sell or toss, what happens next?

Whew! By now your brain chatter is spiraling out of control. So here are a couple of techniques to stop the brain chatter:

  1. Chat back: "I get to decide which items to delete and which to keep. I want to keep items that are either useful or represent good memories."
  2. Chat with: The item might have something to say to you, "I haven't been used in many years. I would really like to live with someone who would use me." In effect, the item is giving you permission to pass it to a new owner.

Don't let brain chatter get in the way of living an organized life.

If you need additional assistance identifying and combating your brain chatter, check out our organizing coaching services on Ordered Minds.

1 Definition accessed from on 9/1/2010.