Why Clutter Happens
How did it get this bad?
Of course the main reason clutter occurs is we simply have too much stuff! Our houses cannot accommodate it all. Just as any bridge has a maximum weight capacity before it collapses, so too our homes "collapse" when we weigh it down with too many possessions.
But it's not always that simple. There are often many other legitimate reasons why clutter develops. Here are just a few:
1) Inefficient Organizing Systems: There is an art to keeping order. Without proper strategies for organizing our possessions, order cannot prevail. Organizing systems can do wonders for homes which once had none.
2) Lack of Time & Energy: A common obstacle to dealing with clutter is time--the lack of it. Between work, family, kids, social life, there often just isn't enough time and energy in the day for keeping up with what's happening now, let alone trying to get to stuff that's piled up from the past. Many of my clients are parents with young children (or children with special needs), struggling to keep up. Others are busy professionals or students whose busy lives prevent them from keeping up with their households.
3) Organizing Isn't Your Strength: Some people just don't have that "organizational gene" as one of their strengths, so even thinking about making order feels frustrating and hopeless.
4) Emotional Associations to the "Stuff": Other people avoid dealing with clutter because they have emotional associations to the stuff that's involved, so it's exhausting to deal with it.
5) ADD: Many individuals diagnosed with ADD have a particularly hard time following through with things, are easily distracted and juggle many projects at once. This often results in clutter.
6) Recent Emotional Event: Occasionally situations arise in which clutter has become insurmountable due to the added component of an emotionally-draining event like divorce, death of a loved one, illness, loss of a job, a move or downsize in one's home. Such events often leave one feeling unmotivated, depressed, fatigued and unable to face large involved, detail-oriented projects such as tackling clutter.
7) Limited space: Many individuals are faced with storing their belongings in limited spaces, with limited storage areas. Those people who have several hobbies and interests also often have lots of equipment, gear, and supplies that go along with those interests. It's difficult to find ways to fit everything in, and to do it in a way that maintains order. It requires a thorough space analysis, and a sharp strategy to use space as efficiently as possible.
8) When loved ones pass on, their belongings often go to another member of the family. It's draining to think of sorting these belongings, or to find optimal ways of incorporating them into the household.
9) Downsizing: Moving is extremely stressful in and of itself, but moving to a home which is smaller can be very challenging on many levels. Some people just can't figure out how to make it work.
10) Poor use of space: Some people simply don't have an eye for squeezing out and seeking every single storage opportunity a home might provide, nor do they know what furniture or containers to buy to maximize storage possibilities. They may have enough space for their possessions, but they aren't maximizing their storage options.
"The key to simplicity is to have around us and within us only what currently nourishes, what is useful now, what makes our energy sing. The rest can be released into the great cycle of life, leaving space for the new to enter, whether it be in the form of creative inspiration, time to be with loved ones, or new material things that serve our current purposes." -Helen Slomovits, "Simplicity is a State of Mind" (Natural Awakenings magazine)