Good solution to problem of clutter

Note:  I posted this last week and saw today that it had disappeared, so I’m trying one more time. Apologies to those who are receiving it a second time.

Clutter is a killer.  Do an online search for “house clutter stress” and you’ll find more information than you ever want to know about the negative effects of living in clutter, starting with the anxiety that comes from wasting time looking for things.  Keys are a good example of objects that disappear in a mess.

But lost keys are not the only problem created by clutter:  you may lose track of bills and forget to pay them, and be unable to relax at home when faced with so much stuff to put away and/or clear out.  “Studies show that cluttered houses can cause stress, weight gain and increase the rate of illness.” Home becomes your panic room instead of a place to escape the chaotic, outside world.  This becomes a potentially more serious problem when you’re retired and spending a lot more time at home.  I know, supposedly we old people have lots of time to clean house. Wrong.

Even though I have space to hide much of my clutter, I realize there’ll never be enough and when papers pile up on my desk, and I can’t find my checkbook, and fabric starts to take over a room, I feel the stress the experts are talking about.  Like most people, I can attest to procrastinating when the clutter crisis seems like it could take weeks to solve.

We all know that the logical solution to the problem is to rid ourselves of whatever is cluttering our living spaces. However, this is a time-consuming, possibly agonizing activity.  Some of us are tossers and some are keepers and from my experience most households have at least one of each.  The next best thing, according to an article on WebMD, which uses home organizer Lisa Jacobs as a resource, is to “set a timer for fifteen minutes. Choose the worst, most cluttered area of your house. It doesn’t need to be a room. It can be a corner, a shelf, the top of the microwave. Jacobs likes to start with the kitchen counter, where everything from bills to magazines to kids’ school projects often pile up. ‘If you clean up your counter space, you will breathe,'” Jacobs says.

Before reading this advice I decided to tackle three bathroom drawers that held make-up, hair products and an assortment of other items, most of which I couldn’t find when I needed them.  Now everything has a place and I don’t waste time looking for toothpaste or the hairdryer. But I’ve been slower to start on the next project, which involves an entire room and a closet.  Jacobs’ suggestion is a good one.  I feel less like procrastinating when I think about tackling the job in fifteen minute segments, lighter hearted, and more confident I can get things under control.  And in fifteen minutes, I ought to be able to find at least one thing to toss that won’t cause a rift between me and my husband.

Now, would someone remind me why I went shopping at Costco today?

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About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness.
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