What Clutter Do You Tolerate? (Bust Your Tolerations Workbook)

What are you TOLERATING in your home? In your life? In your work?

In my coach training, I’ve learned about this term called TOLERATIONS.

These are the things in our life that cause us stress because we feel that they are something we have to tolerate, put up with. We often feel stressed and overwhelmed and may not even be aware of the things in our life that are contributing to this feeling.

The pile of papers on your desk. The drywall patch in your office. The broken latch on the kitchen pantry. The troublesome feeling you get when you see a certain colleague. The way the toothpaste cap gets coated in toothpaste and everyone stops using the cap and there is toothpaste all over the bathroom! Or, something like that.

These TOLERATIONS are something that sap our energy, whether we realize it or not. They cause this emotional burden that we carry day in and day out. They are like a rock in our shoe that we don’t even realize is there, or we just become to ambivalent to do anything about it.

These tolerations give us this baseline of stress that we wake up with every single day. We are a little edgy, we are already a little frustrated, we aren’t relaxed and ready to show up in our homes and work and give our best to our loved ones. If these tolerations can be eliminated, so can this stress.


So I thought, what are we tolerating when it comes to clutter?

If you are unsatisfied with your home, what exactly are you unsatisfied with?

Here are some steps to help you work through your CLUTTER TOLERATIONS



Awareness is always the first step in making a change.

Start a list of the tolerations you are noticing. Put a pad of paper on your counter or keep one on your phone. Take time throughout a week or two to add to it.

List anything that you see and feel ‘ugh’. Even if it is something that you deal with every day, like dishes and laundry.

Here are some examples of my tolerations

My favourite sandals having a broken strap, the dishes, constantly doing laundry, the clutter on the kitchen counters, my unfinished office space, the pile of items in my office to take to the thrift store, my messy ensuite, my slow iPad, the coffee table that books keep falling out of, the limited amount of hot water our tank can put out at one time…..

Tolerations. A whole bunch of them! Like, why is there a battery charger in our bedroom?


Looking at your list, circle two to address. They could be ones that make your teeth clench, or they can be dealt with simply, or ones that you need to address to feel more life contentment. Ask yourself how they make you feel and how they make you act. Get to know them and their role in your physical and emotional life.



Remember, tolerations are things that CAN be eliminated, so, there are ways to eliminate every toleration. However, our ideal solution might not fit our budgets and resources at this time. For instance, I would love to upgrade our hot water tank, but we just don’t have the money for it right now. Instead, this is a time to ask what my options are to reduce this toleration. One of my solutions is to fill up the tub with hot water then wait for the tank to heat up and fill it up the rest of the way with a hot wonderful bath!

I think it is important to stop and reflect right here. I was nervous that digging into tolerations would make us forget that most of our problems are first world problems and we can solve them by throwing money at them. Now, two things. One, if you have the money to fix it and you feel it is necessary, then do that! Don’t feel bad that you do have the resources to solve a problem for yourself. Two, if you can’t afford to buy a solution, or you want to be more considerate of your money then get creative, be resourceful. There have been many DIY repairs we have made to our washer and dryer over the years to avoid the cost of brand new.

There will always be something to fix/repair/buy in our homes but working through this process will help us realize that we can reduce tolerations in times where we can’t immediately eliminate them. Just like our Grandparents did.

There are ways we can take ownership of our tolerations. We just need to remember we aren’t entitled to the perfect solution and that we are more creative than we give ourselves credit for (or if we aren’t creative, I’m sure someone on Pinterest has an answer)




When I first learned about tolerations I was a little confused by them. It felt like it was a way for me to list all the things I wanted to blame for my frustrations, instead of working on the deeper issues. The reality is that our tolerations give us an opportunity to GET STRESSED ABOUT BEING STRESSED – which is like levelling up the Drama Queen status. Some people really like this state of drama in their lives and choose to be stressed about being stressed.

What happens when we remove the toleration? We don’t get the stress of the toleration AND we don’t get the stress of being stressed about the toleration.

As I work through this, I see that removing these tolerations is a form of emotional and physical decluttering. It is taking away the distractions so we are left with ourselves and we are responsible for our own feelings.

When you look at your top tolerations, you get to choose how you will move forward.

Will you act on it (either by doing it yourself or delegating it)?

Or will you accept it (accepting it as it is forever, or accepting it as it is until you take action to eliminate it)?

Whatever you choose, you need to own that.

If you accept the toleration, you release the toleration from the power it has on you. I even challenge you to seek out ways to express gratitude for this situation in your life.

I’ll give you an example. I have 40-year-old ugly pink laminate counters in my kitchen. My ideal solution is to renovate my whole kitchen. that isn’t realistic right now. In the meantime, I could paint my countertops. If I’m honest with myself, I like that idea but I don’t want the hassle of painting and have no plans to do this in the future. So, I choose to ACCEPT this kitchen counter AS IS until we take action to renovate our kitchen. And I cultivate gratitude for it by saying ‘thank you, thank you for being a place where I don’t have to use a cutting board because you are invincible. thank you for being a place my kids can fill up with hot glue streaks and I can scrap them off and not worry about any damage. thank you indestructible pink countertops!’



After working through my own tolerations I see that there is a lot of power in this process.

It has helped me take ownership for the amount of stress I have in my life and how it is making me act.

It has helped me make changes in my home and put in new systems that eliminate tolerations.

It has helped me see the areas I’m probably avoiding responsibility and taking action on them (I’m looking at you messy ensuite!).

It has also helped me regain some perspective on just how much I do have already and recognizing where I feel entitled to have all my problems solved without earning it, planning it, working on it.

It has helped me to recognize what I am tolerating and accept them where necessary in order to feel more peace with my life and my home.  (Bring on the crafting kids!)


Taking time to identify your tolerations is very important. Use this free workbook to go through the process of how you becoming aware and addressing your top tolerations

If you are looking for ways to live life on purpose, check out the Life on Purpose Workbook and the Year on Purpose Workbook.  And, if you are interested in one-on-one coaching with me, stop by here. 




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