If you are reluctant to invite friends for dinner or scared to look in your own closet, then you might have a problem with clutter. You should not be ashamed, however. Clutter is a very common problem and can occur in almost any area of our lives. The key is admitting to the clutter, creating a plan for dealing with it, and taking immediate and consistent action to guard against clutter in the long term.
The Truth About Clutter
We see books and magazines spilled across the coffee table, extra dishes stacked on the counter, and clothing draped over the dresser, the treadmill, and any other available surface in the bedroom.
Clutter is not dirt. You can be the best house cleaner in the world when it comes to mopping the floor and scrubbing the tub but still succumb to clutter on your shelf and desk.
Clutter is not hoarding
Hoarding involves a specific and often unhealthy process of keeping unnecessary amounts of stuff. Hoarding may require outside intervention, while clutter requires a commitment to organisation.
Clutter is not necessarily the same thing as a collection
My wife’s aunt collects odds and ends from around the world. She displays them in cabinets or on shelves. Although her house is full of collectibles, it does not have a feeling of clutter. This is because she has an organised manner of displaying her items and does not keep them in walkways or areas of common use like kitchen counters or the dining table.
The Origins of Clutter
Before removing clutter, it is a good idea to find out its origin. You would not scoop rising water from your basement without first closing off the source of the leak. Clutter comes from every person living in a home. Kids create tons of clutter by leaving toys out, dragging home small goodies from parties or kids’ meals, and collecting sets of toys like Barbies and Legos.
Adults generate clutter in a similar manner. We often think we are too busy to put something in the proper place, so we set it on the dining table for later. Those things add up, and a small pile is growing before you know it. You might also gain clutter through junk mail, catalogues, and magazine subscriptions.
The key to organising your clutter is recognising that you play a role in creating it. Often, families never make it through a decluttering process because they are too busy blaming each other for the problem. By admitting that every person plays a role in the clutter, you can move forward to finding a solution.
The Cost of Clutter in Your Life
Whether or not you realise it, clutter has a price in your life. Everyone deals with clutter in their own way, and each person’s clutter threshold is different. For example, as a teenager, my mother would say, “You have got to clean that room! It is a mess, and there is stuff everywhere!” What was chaos to her ended up being a couple of pairs of jeans thrown over furniture and several books scattered on the floor? On the other end, my father had a small office in our home. For several years, you could not even reach the farthest wall due to stacks of paper and boxes of electronics. His clutter threshold is obviously higher than nu mother’s, but there is a happy medium between absolute order and reigning chaos. It is in that happy medium that most people will find the best state.
The Cost of Productivity
One of the most common costs of clutter has to do with productivity and time. If you lose five minutes every morning searching for something that is not in the right place, then you are giving up over 30 hours per year. If that does not seem like a lot to you, here are some things you can enjoy or do in 30 hours:
- Watch 15 movies;
- Read three to six books;
- Take an overnight trip, or;
- Earn 30 hours of overtime at your job.
Clutter at your office desk can cost minutes every day and can even result in lost work. Social clutter may cause you to overbook appointments or waste time with poorly made plans. Mental clutter can slow you down and even cause anxiety that keeps you from necessary tasks. No matter how you slice it, clutter interferes with your ability to get things done.
The Cost in British Pounds
Clutter can hit your wallet, according to domestic cleaners in Guildford, and you never realise it. The kitchen in our home is galley style, with minimal cabinet and counter space. I cleaned three old cabinets and put them in the basement to act as an overflow pantry. The space quickly became cluttered, mostly because we didn’t feel like going into the basement to check on our canned goods needs every time we shopped or cooked. Additionally, one of the cabinets was out of my reach and required a stool for access. It was a perfect breeding ground for clutter, and we saw a financial impact. I often bought items we already had and used things out of date order. The result was that we threw away expired food on several occasions before we reorganised our food storage.
Other ways you might see a cost in GBP include buying replacement items for those that you cannot find or that are damaged in the clutter. If you find an item that was part of a pile or unorganised shelf, you might find it damaged and need to pay for repair costs. However, the cost of clutter is not only related to the accumulation in your home or office. It can also generate from the action that leads to clutter in the first place.
Buying items you do not need, do not have a place for, or are purchasing impulsively can lead to clutter. They also cost money you could spend on things you need or save for a rainy day. Retail establishments play to our impulses by creating attractive displays at the end of aisles, putting stuff on sale, and using various proven psychological methods to increase the number of items customers bring to check out.