Friday, September 10, 2010

Organizing Tip: The Vicious Cycle of Clutter

When I first meet with clients, I often hear the same stories explaining why their environments are in disarray. The following themes repeat themselves like a broken record regardless of the client's income, background or education.

1. Emotional chaos manifests itself in clutter chaos. There are difficult life events that create turmoil in our lives like catastrophic illness, death in the family, job loss and divorce. The stress, disorder and turbulence of these events are all consuming, and keeping house is no longer a priority.

2. No infrastructure to support order. The absence of organized infrastructure like a landing strip when you first come home or a functional storage system in the kitchen contributes to the proliferation of clutter. When you don't have an easy and well defined way of putting things away, possessions tend to accumulate on any available flat surface.

3. No established workflow. When clients get overwhelmed with bills or children's paperwork from school, it's often because there is no established workflow of receiving, processing and returning the paperwork.

4. The clogged flow of clutter. Posessions come in and out of our lives. It's easy to bring things in, but for some, it's harder to let things go. Items outlive their usefulness, clothes go out of fashion, and children outgrow their toys. Some clients don't have the time to purge, and some clients are too emotionally attached to their possessions.

5. Packing for a move without purging. Moving is a stressful process, and under the duress of an impending move date, some people pack everything in sight. When they move to the new house, they find themselves in the same clutter situation in a different house.

The first step to developing an organizing solution starts with a diagnosis of the symptoms. Often, it's a combination of the above that creates the chaos in the house, but once the situation is understood, it becomes an easier problem to solve.

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