I want to share one of my biggest weaknesses – I love gathering material and resources.  Sounds like a good thing doesn’t it, lots of information but it can be done to excess.


I’m not like one of those people on compulsive hoarders on Channel 5 but my PC has masses of PDFs saved to read one day, and Outlook is bursting with emails I’m saving.
I have plenty of book shelves and filing cabinets but I also have piles and piles of ongoing tasks on the floor rather than in cabinets, as they are ongoing and I want easy access. Any time I read something interesting I print it out and add it to the relevant pile.
I may have lots of stuff but it is organised. Except for the piles of business books that don’t fit on the shelves!

But … I’ve been thinking – how much time and energy does this take and is it time well spent?

The problem is there is so much information out there and I’m always looking out for new things to help my clients and help me to grow and develop but I can’t keep up with everything!
And it weighs me down.
It’s not just work stuff. Back in 1996 I did an art course, specialising in textiles and creative embroidery. I kept all the art materials, I kept all the books, and the bags of wool,  and thought that one day I’d use them, but now I think it’s doubtful and when we reach semi retirement we plan to move from a 4 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom apartment and won’t have the room for all of this, so I either wait and get rid of it then or do it now.
The charity shops are doing well out of me.
Friends are getting new books (to them) to read
And I’ve made a bit of money through using Amazon trade-in.

It’s not just books and articles

I’ve a DVD recorder and regularly download movies, especially foreign language films, but when will I watch them? I had 86 films saved, at 2 hours a film … do I want to spend so much time sat watching TV? So I’ve gone through and deleted the majority, with the remainder to go at Christmas if they haven’t already been watched.
And there are the clothes
A couple of years ago I reached my target of losing 10 ½ stone and bought lots of clothes, including some quite short dresses, but just because I can doesn’t mean I should! Over 18 months I gained 2 stone in weight so had to buy bigger clothes, but now I’m back with a new lighter weight and I’ve tried on these short dresses but they aren’t me anymore, I’m looking for a more elegant look!
So the big clothes have gone, the clothes I don’t want have gone and I’ve been careful with what I’ve bought – 2 pairs of trousers, 2 skirts, 4 jumpers, 2 shirts … and I’ve made sure that what I have fits comfortably into my wardrobe and drawers, not just me. This is great, much easier to make a choice of what to wear.

Having less is freedom

And I think getting rid of stuff is my new obsession. I’m now looking at everything I possess and thinking , do I really need this? Funny isn’t it …
I’ve spent years accumulating stuff and now I’m looking to get rid, but I’m sure I’m not alone in this.
I thought this was going to be hard, but it’s liberating and far better to give things to a charity than have them gather space.

The clutter inside

It’s not just external clearing, there is also the clutter inside. Perhaps I’m focusing on external clutter because I don’t want to address the stuff that weighs me down inside.
Many of us have regrets and frustrations, things we think about but don’t know how to change. I’ve gone through therapy to address some issues, and think I’ve got it sorted. But every now and again something sets off a trigger and I’m back there again. Since the therapy it has never been as bad as before, like the bounce of a ball it’s less strong but it still has an impact.
And I’m wondering … is the time right for me to deal with my external clutter part of the process to help me to have the space to deal with the inner thoughts.

Your challenge

  • To look around your home and see if you too have clutter that weighs you down.
  • Walk into each room and decide if you like what you see. If it’s perfect for you, well done and move on.
  • If not make a plan, this is not something to do right away but something that can be done in baby steps, just 10 minutes a day is one approach, or you may prefer to blitz a room over a weekend.
  • Don’t forget the digital – look at your phone or iPod, do you need all the music and films you carry about with you. Are you spoilt for choice you never know what to listen to?
  • Look to your computer. Can you find what you want easily or do you have several versions of the same document, do you still need all the files?

I hope this helps and I’d love to hear how you get on.

Image courtesy of Bill Longshaw/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Published On: November 5th, 2013 / Categories: About Denise / Tags: , , , , /


  1. Mansi November 5, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Hi Denise
    I am so happy to read this email about weighing down by clutter. This is exactly my main big problem because it is causing clutter in my mind too. I have this habit, don’t know if its right or wrong. I do so much research when it comes to work or anything else. I gather lot of information and then I am never able to keep track of my resources. Be it online articles/pdfs/books. I have got a big collection and then I feel so overwhelmed when it comes to doing part as you just get stuck because you don’t know where to start from. I am an organised person, I keep things organise but I procrastinate as I lose track of things. So annoying! Please tell me if you know any effective ways how to resolve this issue, seems like an inner struggle or how can a therapy help in this situation.
    I look forward to hearing from you soon.

  2. Denise Taylor November 5, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Hi Mansi
    I think some of this is to do with our personality, some aspects of the Perceiving function (using MBTI terminology).
    Perceiving (P) types really enjoy the beginning of projects. This is when we can explore and gathering information. We get excited as we find new information and explore a topic in depth.
    But we can’t just gather information, there has to be a purpose behind this and we need a deadline, one that’s fixed so we have to focus.
    I think we both have information overload and we need to tell ourselves that enough is enough. There is always going to be more. But often we find the new stuff adds very little to what we already have and it hasn’t been worth the effort.
    Gathering information and using it is one thing, but when all we do it is to file it away … then we are acting like a library!
    So here’s my suggestion for you and me.
    Decide we have enough. We don’t need any more.
    Stop getting more newsletters that give us links to the shiny and new. We know that so much of this is what we already know.
    Decide on your goal, do you need to create a report, make a career decision, book the holiday. Get clarity of what you have to achieve and go through what you already have and sort it to help with this goal.
    This can make it easier to read a book/ document as we don’t need to read everything, we are reading with a purpose so we should be able to skim read.
    I also wonder if organisation is a form of procrastination, so instead of completing the task we organise our files? We need our goal clear out front so with each activity we can ask ourselves if this is helping us to move closer to our goal or not. And if not we shouldn’t be doing it.
    Let me know how you get on with this,

  3. Jan November 6, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Hi Denise,
    Some good tips. I’m also a ‘P’ type and have a thirst for knowledge.
    I also have the same problem with gathering information and storing things to read or attend to at a later date and get weighed down by the amount of stuff I want to read (if only I had more time).
    I recently had to get rid of a lot of clutter, including books, papers and old journals that I’d collected over the years (some of which had never been read) because we downsized to a smaller house. However, that was 6 weeks ago and I’ve already started printing things off to read later, and to buy books and journals again.
    I also have the same problem with emails – filing them into folders to be read later. However, I recently watched a video called ‘Inbox zero’ by Merlin Mann http://inboxzero.com/video/
    I think his technique (which is really simple and probably just common sense) is going to help me with my emails and hopefully create more free time so that I can read more books and journals!
    I’ve just started implementing his technique today and so far so good – so we’ll see.
    Good luck Mansi I know what it feels like to have your mind cluttered with too much stuff.

  4. Denise Taylor November 6, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Hi Jan, thanks so much for commenting. I’ll schedule some time to watch the video, and that’s progress for me because I could easily get distracted and spend an hour on that rather than finish my current task.
    Good for you for clearing some clutter and I wondered what can stop you starting again?
    I’m unsubscribing from many newsletters, but keeping the link so when I have time I can start again.
    All the best to all of us, and others like us.

  5. Stacey November 7, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Great post, Denise! I recognize myself in it, that’s for certain. I appreciate the tips and am putting ‘unsubscribe from newsletters’ on my To Do.

  6. Denise Taylor November 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    Hey Stacey, there are a lot of us about, well down for unsubscribing. I’m just back from a conference and very pleased I only brought home about 25% of the leaflets I would usually!

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