Too much ‘stuff’ seems to be a common cause of stress in most American households. And as the holidays approach it only gets worse. The every day clutter is joined by holiday decorations and many of us face an onslaught of guests with their ‘stuff’ in tow. Let’s see if we can’t pinpoint the possible cause. Once you know ‘why,’ you will be better equipped to resolve the issue. Here are five common culprits. Which one represents you and your home?
Lack of storage – Some of my clients feel guilty because they have ‘so much stuff.’ What they really suffer from is ‘too little storage space.’ If you have no place to put what you need, it’s going to spread like a fungus all over your house. Take an honest look around your home. Are the closets shallow? Do you have rooms without any closets? Do you live in a house with no attic, basement or garage? If this is your predicament, you can stop feeling guilty. After all, you live here but you didn’t design and build the space!
You’d be well served by items that simultaneously provide storage and design function.
Instead of a traditional coffee table for example you could use a storage trunk. Lacking a hall closet you can use a clothes tree to catch coats as guests enter your space. Pick up some inexpensive bookcases to curtail the piles of books now decorating your floor space. And think about the old fashioned wardrobe for your excess hanging clothes. You might find one at a second hand store and with a coat of paint it could become a new focal point in your bedroom. All you need is a little wall space. The Container Store and Ikea offer free space planning so take the measurements of your rooms and a list of your challenges and see what help they can provide. They’ve both got a world of helpful products you may not have considered.
You suffer from the ‘Someday I might need that!’ syndrome. This personality is ruled by ‘a consciousness of lack.’ This is a phrase borrowed from the world of metaphysics. In short it means being ruled by fear. You might be afraid you will make a mistake and toss something valuable. Or perhaps you suffered a loss in the past (fire, theft or financial crisis) and you now unconsciously hold on to everything because you were so wounded by your loss. In the extreme, we have the pack rat. This person holds onto just about everything and the space and all the inhabitants suffer as a consequence.
When you look at items you no longer use or want but feel you can’t part with consider the less fortunate who would be thrilled to have it and make good use of the item. As a bonus of course if you pass the item on to a charity you’ll also benefit from a tax deduction. Don’t be surprised if you enjoy the space you create. It’s easier to think and be creative in an environment that allows you to breathe.
Perhaps your childhood home was always chaotic? This visual and emotional upset is on some level comforting to you. As human beings we’re always drawn to the known and fear change. You may not like all this chaos but there was no one around to teach you the art of getting/staying organized. You are an adult now and free to create something better. You can learn about organizing from a professional organizer or from a book on the subject. I’ve got nine in the marketplace ready to serve you on your journey. The best part is that you can now teach your children this invaluable skill. It’s the ultimate gift that keeps on giving!
Piles of anything whether it’s a mound of clothing on your bedroom easy chair or stacks of papers on the kitchen counter represent unmade decisions. Some people simply don’t realize that making decisions is a skill you can develop. More importantly it’s where the power is! If you don’t make the decisions that guide your life, you can be sure others will. Instead of the chairman of the board of your own life, you are a spectator or worse a slave.
Depression is a common cause of chaos. Let’s face it, when you don’t feel your best, it’s not the optimum time to clean out a closet or tear through your paper piles. Many other emotional and physical challenges can derail our best intentions to get organized. When I was going through chemotherapy ten years ago I was grateful I had an organized space. I certainly didn’t have the energy to do much physical work.
The Bottom Line
Take some time to consider each of these as the possible cause of your chaos. This contemplation may lead you to some other cause at the root of your resistance to creating order. I invite my clients and students to make use of a journal. It can be a document you save online, a beautiful leather-bound notebook you purchase at a stationary store, or a child’s composition book. The important factor is privacy. This journal is part of a journey of self-discovery. Keep it safe and private. What you write down is almost always different and deeper than the thoughts you have in your head when you read material. Set a timer so you don’t get lost in the process. You want to focus in on the cause of your chaos not indulge your desire to escape the task at all costs. And remember your home doesn’t have to be perfect this holiday season. People are coming over to celebrate the season not judge your homemaking skills.
‘The Zen Organizer’
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