Clutter Epidemic

Research shows that the #1 irritant of American homes is clutter. Ultimately, this excess stuff we own costs billions of hard-earned dollars.

Ever wonder where those hard-earned dollars went? Have you ever stopped to figure the total cost of each item you acquire?

  • The first cost is the price tag on the goods you buy.
  • Add the cost to maintain, clean, insure and storage of a purchased item.
  • The next cost is medical expenses for headache remedies, chiropractor adjustments for back strains and stiff neck, psychological guilt and embarrassment that your overflowing environment elicits.
  • On top of this add the cost of strained relationships, frustration, confusion and discouragement.
  • The final cost is the price you pay as you increase your workload to earn more, to buy more and to maintain more.
  • Accumulation is a vicious cycle that has a huge price tag.

Clutter, Clutter Everywhere

Clutter is everywhere, whether your home is a studio apartment or mansion on the hill. Clutter may be visible or hidden behind closed doors. It doesn’t matter if you live alone or have ten children, clutter plays no favorites. Everyone is affected by the clutter epidemic.

Clutter expands to fill the available spaces – cabinets, drawers, closets, countertops, top of the refrigerator, next to your favorite chair, bedside table, nooks and crannies, file drawers, medicine cabinet, car trunk, storage shed and self-storage units. Clutter is stealing prime real estate within your home unless you are like one of my favorite colleagues who keeps an empty drawer in every room to signify there is plenty of uncluttered space.

Don Aslett, author of Clutter’s Last Stand, states that 40 percent of housework involves picking up and maneuvering around clutter.

How much easier would life be if that clutter were gone???

It is a choice — clutter or breathing room, chaos or calm? Choose wisely, and do not kid yourself, possessions do not add to the quality of life. It is only an illusion of richness. Too much of anything pulls you down deeper and deeper. Excess is a nuisance and left neglected can grow into an epidemic causing negativity, frustration, depression and more ill effects.

Decluttering Process

Green circle for Get Started

Your environment has a strong psychological, emotional and physical impact on you and those around you. If you are suffering from too-much-itis syndrome (and let me tell you, there is no little purple pill to alleviate these symptoms), then it is time to address the issue of excess in your home? It is time to release clutter’s hold on you? It is time to take a fresh step to a simpler lifestyle.

Decluttering is a simple process of eliminating waste and worthless items. The hard part is determining what is actually waste and worthless. As you examine each item, and I mean e-a-c-h individual item in your collection of possessions, ask yourself the following questions:

  • When was the last time I used this?
  • Do I truly love it?”
  • Does it add beauty to my environment?
  • Does it bring me joy?

Unused and unloved possessions cost money to keep around; they occupy precious space and eat up valuable time. Start a recycling program and pass them along to others. You do not need to always throw things away, just shift gears and share your over abundance. If you cannot find something you own, it is truly worthless to you or to anyone else. If you have not used it in years, what is the value of keeping it?

Sentimental Clutter

Many of my clients say they want to keep something because of sentimental value — sentimental clutter is what it is called. According to the dictionary, sentimental value is the value of an object that is derived from personal or emotional association rather than its material worth. I am willing to bet, it is not the object that is so precious but its connection to a person, place or time. Do you really need the physical object to retain that memory? Are you willing to put your feelings aside and deal with the clutter? Remember, less is best. You will end up with more space, more breathing room, more money and less clutter, less stress.

People believe if they keep something they are doing so out of respect to the giver. Think about this… What about the respect for the item? If it is stored away in the back of a closet, up in the attic or out in the garage, you are not being very respectful to the item or the person who gave it to you. Consider passing the item along to someone who truly wants it and will respect it. Give it a better home.

Take a few minutes and ask yourself, “What is the rational for holding onto this item? What am I sentimental about?”

When I made the decision to downsize from an eight room home and an acre of land, I had to be diligent on what was truly important to move to my new location, a four room condo with no land. Downsizing is not easy, I know. It requires thoughtfulness to avoid boxes stacked in the garage or a possible storage facility. I had to let go! Yes, sometimes it is difficult to make those decisions, but it is necessary if you choose to minimize and declutter your space while reaping the benefits of more space, more time, more money and less stress. Help is always available. Just ask!

Your Turn

What do you have among your possessions? Is it joyful, useful treasures or clutter? Remember, you are not your stuff! Time to let go!

How do I begin the decluttering process? Great questions.

Read more about controlling clutter at C = Clutter Control. 

Please leave a comment on the ABOUT page and pass this information along to family and friends.