What Can Clutter Do for You?
Let’s look at the flip side of being organized. After all, most people would not keep an abundance of belongings in their home or office, or too many obligations on their calendar unless there was some benefit to doing so.
So what does “clutter” do for you?
As a clutter-averse person, I’ve learned a lot from my clients. They’ve told me:
“My house is too messy for visitors, so I don’t have to entertain.” (This was told to me before the current “social distancing” rules.) I gently suggested that as an alternative to living with clutter, it is perfectly fine to choose to not have visitors unless and until it is convenient. Friends can be entertained in restaurants, or you and they can get together for a walk or a shared activity. One’s own home can be a sanctuary and refuge – it doesn’t have to be a space for entertaining, ever – if that is your decision.
“I serve on two nonprofit boards, in addition to volunteering at both children’s schools, and there really isn’t any time to finish my novel.” Filling your time with important, socially useful, activities is great. But if you’re actually using your busy calendar to prevent you from doing the one thing that feeds your soul, who is this serving?
“I’m a creative type, so I don’t have to be organized.” I won’t argue with this. There actually are some studies which show that a messy desk can inspire creativity. It can help you to think “outside of the box.” And if that’s the way you feel inspired, so be it.
“I feel safe and secure with all my stuff around me. I like to see it.” If it’s working well for you, that’s great.
“It keeps me from having to look at what I’m not earning and what bills I have to pay. I just throw them all in the bin and wait for overdue notices.” Avoiding an unpleasant or tedious task – and yes, for many of us who are not comfortable dealing with money, or who have not had to do it before, this may even feel painful – will not make it go away. If you’d like to become a more confident and competent money manager, learn to view money as a useful tool to help you achieve your important life goals, and perhaps heal your complicated relationship with money, contact me for more information about my online course: “Creating Money Order.” In the meantime, you might find it useful to read Chapters One, Two, and Three of Money Order: The Money Management Guide for Women. https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Money-Order/Gail-Shapiro/9780743215435.
“If I get organized, people will expect something of me.”
Consider what this means to you, and also perhaps why you feel the need to “hide behind your stuff.” If you don’t want to do what someone else is asking – or demanding – you always have the right to “just say no.” And when you focus on just one area of your life – however important it may feel at the time – you have a reason to not return that difficult phone call, or send in that resume, or finish that task. If you don’t attempt anything, you cannot be judged and found wanting. If you don’t complete your project, you cannot fail.
Clutter can serve you in many ways. It can be a symbol that you need to take better care of yourself, or it even can act as a form of physical protection or as a buffer against past trauma. It can signify that something deeper is going on, something to which you might want to pay attention.
If you are getting benefit from your clutter, and if that’s working well for you, my guess is that you wouldn’t be reading this post. But if the physical, psychological, emotional, or time-related clutter is causing you stress or discomfort, you may want to reach out for some help.
As always, I welcome your comments and organizing questions.