Organizing, Redesign & Staging

Friday, October 12, 2007

Main Causes of Clutter-itis

According to organizing book guru Julie Morgenstern, the 6 biggest reasons clutter happens are:

  • items have no home

  • inconvenient storage

  • more stuff than storage space

  • complex, confusing system

  • "out of sight, out of mind"

  • organizing is boring

These causes certainly won't come as a surprise to you, much less to an Organizer, but I did want to make a comment about each.

First -- it makes sense that if everything has a place, there won't be confusion about putting the item(s) back where they go. If you don't have a spot for something, reconsider why you don't, and decide if you still want/need to keep it.

If you have to go out of your way, do extra steps, or otherwise don't have easy access to a storage place, then you are more likely not to put something away which leads to clutter. Put things you use most often in readily-accessible and close-by locations. Anything you use/need less frequently can go far away or to a less convenient spot.

The "more stuff than storage space" cause is a no-brainer big time. There's only 2 possibilities when you are trying to declutter: remove stuff or add storage. The one I recommend you start with is to remove stuff. Purging via trash or donation is definitely an easier, less expensive and more practical way to go.

Keep things simple. Don't over-label, over-file, or make getting things harder than they need to be. Some things don't need to be folded or containerized -- think underwear or socks. If you find you're reaching for items again and again but are frustrated by their storage system, rethink the system. Again, humans go for the path of least resistance. If it is too hard or too much work, they won't do it!

#5 is certainly a true one. When asked about the contents of a box or bin that has been out of sight, clients often have no idea. I say, if you have no idea what is in a container, then that must mean you never needed it and can live without it. When you find something that has been hidden for a long time, and say "oh, that's where that was", usually you've replaced it or the need for it has passed.

And as for the last cause, I am horrified. Organizing, boring??? Bite your tongue. Don't you find it liberating, a relief, making things peaceful and less stressful, more convenient and efficient, and allowing you to be at one with your possessions? Trust me, I'd rather be boring and organized, than exciting and disorganized.