Balance, Wellness

5 Ways to Overcome Clutter and Feel Empowered


This morning I stumbled upon the article 7 Things the Most Successful People Don’t Do

As I began mentally checking off each number, I came to #5 and stopped:

 #5 Successful people don’t tolerate clutter.

 “Oh no! I’m that person.”
Exhibit one, my desk:

Z's Desk

My husband lovingly tells me I’m a messy roommate because I leave piles around the house on a regular basis.

Although I’m disgusted by a physically dirty space, my mind doesn’t view tiny piles of stuff as “clutter.” My organizational system is geographic so my pattern of leaving items around the house may be due to my mind’s penchant for spatial recognition. As a kid, I was the little princess of the game Memory, beating kids and adults. I’d be drawn toward a section and the card that felt right was the correct match. My brain subconsciously memorized cards by location.

We all have systems of clutter; nonetheless, clutter causes stress in our lives. Perhaps you’ve never questioned your system, or it may be a hot point of contention in your relationships.

Whatever system of clutter you gravitate towards, here are a few tips to help you win the tug-o-war with your clutter bug.

5 Ways to Gain Power Over Clutter1) Step one. Awareness:

We must be aware that we have our clutter pattern in the first place. Like GI Joe reminded us, “Knowing is half the battle.”

2) Identify the what:

What spaces get the clutterbug award?

What’s your clutter mode? Do you make little piles, shove things in drawers or boxes, scatter things like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs?

What does the clutter offer you? A way to keep track of things so you don’t loose them or so you can easily find them?

If your clutter could talk what would it say?

Is the clutter a red flag of exhaustion, stress, depression?

3) Fill your need hole:

When you identify the what, you’ll also discover a hole (a need). Maybe you clutter when you’re stressed. Maybe the car is a mess when you feel your life is out of control.

Identify your need and fill it?

If you need TIME, so you might set a block of time on your calendar to address the pile at your desk.

If you need SUPPORT, so you might invite a best friend over to help you sort the box in the garage, throw away junk, and celebrate with lattes.

If you need to MAKE YOURSELF A PRIORITY, so while addressing the clutter you could brainstorm how to carve personal space for yourself into your day or week.


4) Create a system:

Create a system of organizing your life that works for you (even if it seems silly).

Perhaps your need hole is to give yourself permission to be a little piglet during the day. You can develop a system that will leave your space clean at the end of the day.

In college, I let my room become a mess during the day. Before bed, I’d spend 5-10 minutes putting everything back in its place. Waking up to a neat and tidy room made me feel positive to start a new day.


5) Be consistent and reward:

They say that “Nothing succeeds like persistence,” and persistence moves you forward on a regular basis. Whatever system you create, stick with it daily for at least a month to lay down a new neural pathway.

Reward yourself daily for following your system. Use smiley face stickers on your calendar or write how awesome you are in dry erase marker on your bathroom mirror.

When you include a reward, you’ll be more likely to be proud of yourself and thus continue the system.


When we feel proud of ourselves we feel powerful, and personal power inspires us to work towards our dreams with confidence and joy.

 All success begins one positive system at a time.

With Love,
Z 🙂

Get more like thissign up for our newsletter for exclusive inspirational content!

Also by Z: 2 Things to Remember When Life Disappoints You

6 Tips to Regain Confidence After Using Social Media

How to Prepare Yourself for Success

Photo: Pixabay; Z Zoccolante

Z Zoccolante

Z Zoccolante

Contributor at Peaceful Dumpling
Z Zoccolante is an author, actress, and fairytale dreamer. As a coach, she specializes in uncluttering and defragging the mind. Her debut memoir will one day help others, who are trying to recover from eating disorders, attain happiness and freedom. Originally from Hawai’i, she now lives in LA. Visit her blog at
Z Zoccolante


Author, Actress, Fairytale Dreamer. Lover of lattes, belly laughs, creating things, and pretending I live in a dark fairytale.
Getting Our Needs Met $matches[1] - 5 days ago
  • Really helpful article. For me I have always been a really tidy person apart from when I feel down or depressed and then I literally can’t be bothered to put things away and everything get totally messy. I would definitely say that how tidy I keep things has a direct relationship with how productive I am in my life. In some ways it is really annoying but in others it is quite helpful because if I feel I am losing control of order I can begin with my living space and once I keep that organised it is a bit like a kick start for everything else.

    • Z Zoccolante

      Thank you Mercedes. I love this and feel the same way about not being, “bothered to put this away.”I think a lot of people have that same connection. In college I remember a good friend coming to visit and I’d peek in his car when he’d arrive. If his car was neat his life was ok. But if his car was a mess we’d immediately take a walk and have a “therapy” session. Glad you found the first step was to begin with your living space. You’re so right that it helps kick start everything else.

  • Juhea Kim

    i don’t think your desk is cluttered, at all! it looks pretty neat actually. 🙂

    • Z Zoccolante

      Whew, yes! ;). Good thing I didn’t show you my little scattered piles 🙂

  • Olga K

    Thanks so much Z for the awesome tips. I always tend to clutter my room and my work space to a point where there’s literally no space LOL 🙂 The one thing I’ve noticed though is when I’m over-cluttered, I have little to no energy and desire to do any work.. but when I clean up, all of a sudden I get all this energy and motivation to work, create, write, read, etc. I’m convinced now that little piles of clutter suck our energy haha 🙂 And after reading your article I’m even more motivated to clean-up and will definitely reward myself. So there! Thank you 🙂

    • Z Zoccolante

      You’re welcome. I notice the same connection between clutter and my motivation level. After I wrote this I cleaned my little piles :).

Take care of yourself:
stress balance wellness better home

latest stories