When is clutter a problem?

9 April 2010

I gave a decluttering talk the other day and of the audience members asked, “But what if I get comfort from having all my stuff around me?” I told her it’s not a problem to be surrounded by her stuff — unless it is a problem. I asked her whether being surrounded by her stuff was affecting her ability to function. She said yes. So we talked a little about what happens when the cost of keeping stuff is higher than the cost of letting go of it.

That got me thinking about standards of clutter again. In my opinion, clutter isn’t a problem unless it’s a problem. For some people, any disarray causes distress. Those are folks who put stuff away, I hope. For people like me, the clutter typically has to get to a certain level before I do anything about it.

I had a guest post on Rubbermaid’s blog yesterday, which was a thrill for me. It was about something I talk about here all the time: the power of 30 minutes to declutter and organize. I included some before and after pictures, including one of my office that I probably ought to be ashamed of. (Go check it out.)

But I’m not ashamed because it’s just my standard of clutter that’s in question. I have a high tolerance for clutter, and that’s okay. You may have a low tolerance. And that’s okay too.

When mess reaches the level that it affects my functioning, I do something about it. And, as I talk about in the Rubbermaid post, I can do something about it quickly. So that’s working for me.

I urge you to think about your own clutter and how it’s affecting your life. If it’s making it hard for you to think or to function, take some action. Set your timer for 15 or 30 minutes and dig in. If you could use some support, download the free Quick Clutter Fix audio that my Declutter Happy Hour partner Shannon Wilkinson and I offer.

If you don’t have a clutter problem but know someone you think does, I urge you not to judge or even consider they have a problem unless it’s a problem for them. Remember, clutter is in the eye of the beholder.

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About Janine

Janine Adams

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

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