The cost of clutter not only robs your wallet, but also your mind. The constant pursuit of more stuff, leads to debt overwork, stress, anxiety, waste and an unfulfilled feeling.
Many think that clutter is a superficial issue that’s no big deal. But for those people who are surrounded by clutter day in and day out, it affects everything in their lives: from their relationships to how they feel about themselves to money. What is the cost of clutter in your life, both economically and mentally?
Let me give you an example of a client named Mary (not her real name) to better understand the cost of clutter. I was referred to her by her psychiatrist. Mary moved into her 3,500 square foot home 23 years ago after marrying her husband Paul (not his real name). Clutter had been building in their home since then and it was everywhere. They had it all: from newspapers and magazines from the 1980’s to many hidden collections of items they “loved” to clothes hung in the living room to termites. She was so embarrassed by the clutter that she didn’t and couldn’t have company over. There was literally no where to sit and Mary was stuck, not knowing where to turn. Mary said that she let her home get like that to teach her husband, who didn’t seem to care, a lesson and it got out of control. She and I both knew that wasn’t true and worked on the depression issues with her psychiatrist to understand what was going on. Luckily, their dilapidated home was on a great piece of property, which they sold for a profit. From there, the move into an 1,800 square foot townhouse was an issue because of the clutter they’d hoarded for years.
It was a huge undertaking, but Mary had no choice but to spend countless hours paying me to sort her items. She couldn’t do it alone and it’s a job for a professional, not friends or family. I helped her recoup some of her money back by separating items for a garage sale, selling valuable antiques to dealers and consigning high-end clothing. I also helped her move and plan her new space. Although many see professional organizing services as a luxury item, to Mary, I was a necessity.
My greatest joy in what I do is helping people and making a huge, positive impact on their lives. Although the work with Mary was very unglamorous (unless you like women in plastic gloves) it is my joy to know what the outcome will be and how she will be free to live her life.
Another client April (not her real name) lives in Boston. When her brother passed away in Miami, she and her daughter came down to make arrangements. What they found in his apartment was a situation similar to Mary’s. I was contacted by April’s organizer in Boston to help the family get rid of the clutter. Once again, my services were not a luxury item but a necessity. After only 11 hours of work, garbage was bagged and donation items were set up. I made arrangements with a junk removal company, a charity for pick up and a maid service and when April and her daughter returned one day, the cluttered apartment was cleaned out. I also shipped items they wanted to two different cities and found a driver to get his car to Chicago. April needed my services and was so grateful that I could handle it all.
Although these cases are extreme and very real, what about small things like late charges associated with not paying bills on time because they got lost in clutter? What about all that time wasted because you can’t find something? What about buying an item several times because you can’t find the original?
The stuff that comes into our lives on a daily basis needs to be controlled or it can easily become out-of-control clutter and cost us money. We all need to tackle little bits of clutter every single day just to keep it in check. I do.
Why do we delay what we know we need to do? A task left undone remains undone in two places – at the actual location of the task and inside your head, consuming energy and gnawing at you conscience. If you start it, finish it or … forget it.
Do a little organizing — OFTEN. When you walk between rooms, take an out-of-place item with you and put it where it belongs. “I might need it someday” is never a reason to keep something you don’t use.
“Clutter isn’t about stuff at all. It’s about our relationship to stuff. It becomes a problem when people look for meaning, support and affirmation from their belongings, instead of from other people.” – Peter Walsh
So, what is the cost of clutter in your life?
The Cost of Clutter!