Home & Family

Your Questions on Clutter Answered & The Clutter Quiz: Do I Have Clutter?

clutterWhat is clutter?
Clutter is defined as a collection of things lying about in an untidy mass. As a society of consumers, it’s easy to build up clutter. When we acquire more things than we get rid of; stuff simply accumulates.

What is extreme clutter?
It’s easy to identify extreme clutter in a home; items are disorganized and all over the place and the homeowner displays signs of hoarding. They may have difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. What’s bad about extreme clutter is that material things tend to take precedence over people, and a hoarder may fear letting go of things. Instead, they allow things to take up valuable space. For example, a hoarder may stop cooking because they are storing in objects their oven.

Do I have clutter?
Living in a material society, we tend to accumulate stuff. Since some people acquire more items than others, there are different levels of materialism, and there can be gray areas. To determine if you have basic clutter, reflect upon these ten questions:

1) Are the flat surfaces of my home covered with things? (Countertops, desktops, dining room and kitchen tables, bedroom dressers, beds, etc.) If this answer is yes, you have clutter and can benefit from organizing.

2) Is it hard to find things? For example, do you waste time searching for items such as your keys, cell phone, or dog leash? Losing things is a sign of disorganization that may be a sign of physical or mental clutter.

3) Is my home difficult to clean? For example, must I spend a lot of time picking things up off the floor to vacuum? If this answer is yes, you likely have an overaccumulation of things.

4) Do I often run late, feel frantic, or forget things? Being tardy, stressed, and forgetful are clear signs of disorganization and may indicate clutter of the mind and/or home.

5) Do I postpone inviting people to my home because I feel embarrassed of my mess? If the answer is yes, you likely have too many things to manage.

6) Do I have trouble discarding things? If you do, you likely have clutter or the potential for it to grow.

7) Do I introduce more items into my home than I get rid of? If not curtailed, you can develop serious clutter.

8) Do I shop and continually acquire new things I may not need? When you buy more things than you need, clutter can build very easily.

9) Do the items I own have a place to go? Everything you own should have a specific place to go. If you fail to put things away due to a shortage of space, you likely have clutter.

10) Do I feel depressed, lonely, or isolated? These feelings are often associated with hoarding and other serious conditions. People who are experiencing these symptoms should contact their medical doctor for evaluation.

What are some important things I should know about clutter?
Compulsive hoarding is a medical disorder, and it is often an offshoot of trauma. Hoarders tend to comfort themselves with things – as the items they own bring them security. In some cases, their homes or workplaces may become unclean, unusable, or unsafe – thus intervention is often needed.

What should I do to get rid of clutter?
Promise to stop buying and bringing new things into the home until you have clutter under control. Keep only what you need, use, or what is valuable or sentimental. Donate or give away items that you don’t want, need, or use; particularly those items that are in good shape that can be useful to someone else. Other things you don’t want to keep can be repurposed, recycled, or properly discarded.

Why should I get rid of clutter?
Getting rid of clutter generally makes people feel better as they regain control of their home environment. Spaces become easier to clean and manage – and regaining the ability to entertain friends and family can increase joy. Decluttering can melt away stress, as once the baggage is gone, positive energy can return.

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