You know you have clutter. We all do, in one form or another, and to varying degrees. But have you ever thought about what it is costing you? Sometimes the cost is obvious, such as late fees incurred for an overdue bill that was lost in a mystery pile of paper, or that you couldn’t find the time to pay. Other times the cost is mental or emotional, such as the embarrassment of having others see your cluttered space. Or, missed opportunities. Or, time you could have spent doing something else.
Why do I care so much about clutter? And about helping people to declutter? Well, here’s what I believe:
- Clutter is anything that stands in the way of the life you want to live.
- Clutter takes many forms. Little things like paper; big things like furniture; negative thoughts; unfulfilling activities.
- Clutter weighs us down. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
- Everyone deserves to feel lighter. My egret-taking-flight logo represents the freedom of rising above clutter!
- Organizing skills can be taught. But not every organizing system works for everybody.
- Less clutter in your home, office, schedule and mind means more room for the life you really want. Less clutter. More life.
If this is what you believe, too, then we’re on the same page! Keep reading for some examples of the cost of clutter…and what to do about it.
PROBLEM: Bills not paid on time or in full; taxes not filed. COST: Late fees, penalties, finance charges, missed deductions, stress, family conflict. SOLUTION: Clear cash flow clutter; set up a bill paying system; schedule time to deal with money. (I deal with mine on Money Mondays).
PROBLEM: Actual money lost in piles of clutter. COST: The $$ value of loose change, un-cashed checks, unused gift cards, and hidden/forgotten cash. (I love when it’s more than enough to pay for our organizing session together!) SOLUTION: Get organized; use Coinstar at the grocery store or similar machine at your bank. (There’s no fee if you choose the gift card option!)
PROBLEM: Can’t find your stuff. (My favorite part of any session is when the client exclaims, “Oh, I’ve been looking for that!”) COST: Lost time looking for lost items; not being able to use them meanwhile; forgetting what you have; having to buy duplicates; lost valuables & heirlooms; expired food; unread magazines; stress and embarrassment. SOLUTION: Establish homes for everything; create S.P.A.C.E. and systems for keeping clutter at a minimum and knowing where your stuff is.
PROBLEM: Can’t find important papers lost in a mystery pile; can’t find bills & receipts for returns and taxes. COST: Missed business opportunities and social occasions; missed claim filing deadlines; wasted discounts and rebates; late homework and projects. SOLUTION: Think about the flow of paper through your home or business; sort mail daily into an action file; create and use a simple filing system; remember the 80/20 Rule.
PROBLEM: Too many To Do lists & calendars (or none at all). COST: Forgetting to do stuff; missing meetings and appointments (plus some doctors and services charge a fee). SOLUTION: Keep a Master To-Do List from which you choose only 5 daily tasks; schedule your To-Dos; leave some slack in your day.
PROBLEM: Living in C.H.A.O.S. (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome). COST: Embarrassment, anxiety, isolation, depression, family conflict, relationships, mental health care costs. SOLUTION: Get organized; create systems; routines & checklists; ask for help if you need it.
PROBLEM: Wasting time on the job (due to clutter). COST: $5K/yr lost productivity (assuming $20/hr and 1 hr/day lost looking for things); not promoted, maybe fired. SOLUTION: For employee, get organized. For employer, help employee get organized.
PROBLEM: Doing everything yourself. COST: Time & energy; whatever else you could have accomplished during that time; financial implications. SOLUTION: Delegating or hiring out tasks frees you up for doing things you enjoy more, or are better suited for. (Examples: bookkeeping, admin, housework, yard work)
PROBLEM: Can’t use space as intended (due to clutter). COST: Storage space square footage = % of home or office monthly rent or mortgage, damaged items, repairs to home, safety & health hazards, eating out, offsite storage unit costs, difficulty cleaning, expensive car left out in the elements. SOLUTION: Create more S.P.A.C.E.; maintain your property; protect your valuables.
PROBLEM: Saying Yes to others when you should say No. COST: No time for your own goals and priorities. What is that worth to you? (Remember, every time you say Yes to something you are saying No to something else.) SOLUTION: Schedule time for projects (work & personal), family, friends, and hobbies.
PROBLEM: Procrastination (wasting time, or spending all your time putting out fires, real and imagined). COST: The important stuff doesn’t get done, leading to various financial and emotional costs; students may not graduate; business growth suffers. SOLUTION: Plan your projects; schedule regular blocks of time for things that are important to you; set S.M.A.R.T. Goals.
PROBLEM: Multitasking & Interruptions. COST: Do several things at once, but none of them well. Lose 2+ hours a day refocusing. SOLUTION: Focus on one thing at a time; check email and voice mail at scheduled intervals. (That’s why God created Caller ID and Voice Mail!)
So…the next time you think about the cost of getting organized, think first: What is your clutter costing you? How much does it cost you financially, and how much does it cost you mentally or emotionally? What are you NOT having, doing, or being because of your clutter? Finally, ask yourself: Can I really afford NOT to get organized?
What other costs of clutter can you think of? Please share in the comments below!
Copyright 2014-2015 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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