As we enter the new year, my friendly-professional-organizer DNA compels me to continue last week’s posts on Procrastination by calling out one her many monstrous children. Like the tiny mustard seed that grows up into a dense brushy tree, Clutter relentlessly consumes space and brings disorder in our work, home and lives. Clutter is not just passive—it takes on a life of its own.
George Washington once wisely stated, “There is nothing so likely to produce peace as to be well prepared to meet the enemy.” Thomas Jones offers a frightening corollary, “Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate!”
Let’s take a closer look at the mayhem Clutter brings.
1. Clutter HINDERS concentration. Piles of junk, books, pens, schoolwork, discarded food, dirty dishes, piles of newspapers—all of this, lying passively here, there, and everywhere, draws our attention away from the important issues of life. Our eye is drawn away from the crucial and rests instead upon the muddle around us. No one can concentrate well when there is disarray and bedlam.
2. Clutter creates TENSION. Disorder will always lead to tension and stress. In any household, there typically reside two types of people, the “pack rat” and the “neatnik.” In fact, there is an old wives’ tale that states that pack rats always marry neatniks. So, of course, there is going to be conflict over clutter. The pack rat wants to hang on to it, and the neatnik wants to throw it in the trash. Eliminate the enemy Clutter and tension will not be the daily pill you have to swallow.
3. Clutter affects your ATTITUDE. Do you avoid having people in your home because of disorder? Are you surrounded on all sides by Clutter? Do you throw up your hands in hopelessness and hang the white flag of defeat? One of Clutter’s strategies is to ruin your attitude, prevent concentration, and prevent your enjoyment of friends, fellowship and hospitality.
4. Clutter causes DISHARMONY. Remember the pack rat and the neatnik? Remember the tension that is caused from their conflicting expectations? This tension, when allowed to reign and rule for an extended period of time, creates an overall disharmonious atmosphere that stifles the fresh air of order and peace. The Bible makes it clear that a house divided cannot stand. The pack rat and the neatnik will find it hard to experience unity when Clutter rules the home.
5. Clutter is a monumental WASTE of time. When you have to search through clutter and mess to get to your objective, you are squandering valuable time. It takes 4x longer to clean or pick up a cluttered room than an organized room. One college student I know works part time as a tutor for a nearby home-school family. The family is always on the go academically, but, has allowed Clutter to overtake their home. When the college student arrives to tutor the kids, it sometimes takes half an hour to find the needed textbook.
To win a war, you must first win a battle. Cabinet by cabinet, closet by closet, room by room or desk by desk, cubical by cubical, office by office. Like David versus Goliath, you can, and must, face the giant head on if you hope to prevail. This giant has a weak spot — your courage and determination!
May you reap the fruit of peace in 2017 as you engage and defeat the arch-enemy Clutter.
Sue McMillin and Jennyce Garber contributed to this article.