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Clutter might be the result of doing too much, not doing too little

by respaced on January 17, 2012

Saving too much "just in case" means there's more space for your soup cans, less space for you.

For those of us who struggle with disorganization, overly doing a lot of normal, everyday actions leads to the suffocating piles of clutter and unmanageable stress we face in our homes.

For example, it’s completely normal to save some sentimental items like a few pieces of our children’s school work, a handful of greeting cards or some special items from our grandmother. When we struggle with disorganization, however, we may be overly sentimental, saving most or all of our children’s school work, every greeting card we receive and so many items from Grandma’s house that we have no room for our own family’s special items.

It’s quite sensible to have a few extra items around the house for convenience sake. For example, most people have a box of nails and screws in the garage, a few cans of soup in the cupboard and more than one pair of socks in their drawer. Those of us who struggle with disorganization, save as much as we can “just in case”: We have several boxes of nails and screws in the garage, so many cans of soup that some have expired, and too many socks to close the drawer, let alone find the mate to the one we are looking for.

Finally, frugality is a virtue when we wear an older dress instead of buying a new one for every occasion, save a few pieces of tissue paper at Christmas to wrap old ornaments in, and hang on to an old shoebox or two for our children’s spontaneous art projects. But those of us who are disorganized take frugality too far and save too much out of fear of being unprepared: We save every dress we have ever worn, because we “might” wear it again. We save every crumpled piece of tissue paper, because we may want to wrap future gifts with it. We save an unsightly amount of trash and recycling “just in case” it might be useful for the kids’ art projects.

Those who are disorganized overdo things to the point of creating a toxic environment for themselves. As Sandra Felton said in her book Messie No More, “… on the whole, [disorganized people] are not naturally moderates. They overdo in what they keep and they overdo in their activities. ”

Knowing that you have a tendency to overdo things is one thing; learning how to change those ingrained habits is another. I will write more about what we can do to overcome these tendencies in future posts. For now, I think it’s enough to look around our houses and ask ourselves, is this stress I experience at home because I am overdoing something?

What do you think? What are you overdoing in your home? What works for you to maintain moderation in your life?

Image courtesy of TLC.

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