Friday, October 15, 2010

The Many Benefits of Getting Decluttered and Organized

house with weeds
Image purchased from iStockPhoto.

What get people motivated to deal with their clutter - besides having house guests coming soon? I've been looking at the articles I've bookmarked over the years, and found that many people have written eloquently on the various reasons they see for getting organized.

Some writers manage to summarize the benefits in a single sentence. Gretchen Rubin notes that "For most people, outer order contributes to inner peace." Similarly, Susan Mazza says that "Clearing physical space creates mental space."

Others describe how important their homes are, and how being clutter-free makes those homes so much better.

Sharon Crosby writes in A Home For You (Not Clutter):
It is much more difficult to be aware of the things you love when they are surrounded by things you care less for. Think of your home as a garden. Clutter is very much like overgrown weeds. They choke out the beauty and vitality of your home...and you. Your home has ceased to be home. It has ceased to be a least for you.
Jennifer S. O'Connell says:
I want my home to be really comfortable, functional, and beautiful. I want every area of my house to be organized. I want to know where things are, not be fearful of going into the basement or taking time in my kitchen to cook something for myself. I want to love my home, to be able to entertain here, to have guests visit, to be okay with friends and family coming over unexpected.
And Peter Walsh shares the perspective of a woman he worked with:
Patty says her house has truly become a home. "Before, it was a collection of stuff in a box. Now, it is a place where we live together and enjoy each other and we have peace together," she says.
Other writers focus on the financial benefits of getting organized. Some of my favorite articles in this vein are:
- Disorganized Frugality Is An Oxymoron
- Organizing Saves You Money
- The High Cost of Clutter

But there's so much more than just the financial aspects. Here's a wonderful perspective from Erin Doland, who writes about her (female) cat, Charlie:
If my desk is cluttered, Charlie can't sleep on my desk. She lets me know that my cluttered desk is unacceptable to her and meows in a continuous, high-pitched pattern until I clear up my mess. ...

Charlie's behavior serves as a nice reminder that keeping clutter out of my life provides space for good things to happen.
Want even more reasons? Penelope Trunk points out that, fair or not, "If you have a messy desk, people think you’re incompetent."

And a recent article by Paula Span about gerontologist David J. Ekerdt's research says:
The social workers, geriatricians, retirement community administrators and family members he’s been talking to since 2002 universally believe this: The sheer volume of objects in a typical household, the enormous physical and cognitive effort involved in sorting out what’s essential, the psychological toll of parting with what’s disposable — all can lead to a kind of paralysis that keeps seniors in place, even when the place isn’t the best place.
For even more reading, let me point you to:
- 7 Benefits of Living With Less Stuff
- 20 Great Reasons to Get Rid of Clutter


Margaret Lukens said...

Jeri, I once spoke to someone who worked in a small cubicle that was extremely cluttered. He admitted that really, with his stacks of paper he was building a barrier to keep other people from approaching him as much as possible. He was overwhelmed by the noise and activity in his office. But it was a strategy that was backfiring: the thing he used to give himself more comfort turned out to be causing him problems and pain. The point in your post about seniors getting hemmed into bad situations by their clutter and the energy it takes to make decisions brought to mind that young man.

Jeri Dansky said...

Thank you for sharing that story, Margaret. I hope the young man was able to give up his stacks-of-paper barrier and find a better way to manage his office situation.