Causes of Clutter

by Natalie Conrad | 2 Comments
Causes of Clutter

I was helping a client this week who has a beautiful home. Everything seemed to have its place and the home was very warm and inviting. I was asked to help with the home office. The office had a desk piled with papers, bills and receipts as well as boxes of more of the same tucked under the desk. I have seen much worse than this, but my client was struggling to get the home office organized and back into a functioning room. As we began to work, we talked about the reasons for the room’s unorganized state. There is always a reason behind the clutter. I am not saying this so that we can justify the clutter but to help us recognize that there is something behind the physical clutter we see. Here are a few examples of the reasons why people now have clutter when they used to be able to handle it:

• Death of a loved one

• Medical crises/long term illness

• Change/loss of job (including retirement)

• Family members moving in/out

• New baby

• Divorce

• Depression

• Moving to a new location

All of these reasons have something in common; change and transition. This is a very common trigger for many of us that causes a once under-control home to become cluttered and less functional.

“Every time we go through a major change, we experience a breakdown in our organizational systems.” ~ Julie Morgenstern

Periods of transition, such as the ones listed above, require that we give ourselves time to adapt and adjust and then rework our organizational systems to be more in line with our new, current reality.

“Our life is not static and neither are our organizing systems.” ~ Natalie Conrad

In other words, give yourself a break. You are going through, or have just gone through, a transition. Once you feel the earth is a little more solid under your feet again, then get some help and get back to being organized. Tweak your old systems or set up a new organizational system.

But here’s the thing – start with the present. Don’t try to go back through all the things that were “let go” during your transition. Deal with the things that are presently coming in the mail, the projects at hand, and the bills to be paid this month. Set up a system to manage today and if you have time, go back and straighten up the past later.

If you need ideas on how to get started on being more organized now that you’ve gone through a transition, keep reading this blog for ideas to get you started. Use the “search” function and key words to get help for your particular situation or room in the house. You can also leave me a comment and pick my brain a little!



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  1. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Natalie,
    Thank you so much for what you do. I enjoy organizing and it is one of the things in my life that takes away stress, believe it or not. I do have a a concern and my daughter points it out all the time to me, and that is that what I do have no matter how often I start out to downsize, I just ‘move’ it around. I really would like to downsize and have a more spacious feeling in my place, but there are things I just do not want to part with…..Do you have any suggestions????

    Thanks,
    Elizabeth

  2. Hi Elizabeth,
    Thanks for reading my blog! Many people have trouble letting go of things and that results in, as you said, “moving it around”. My mentor, Barbara Hemphill, said it best: “Clutter is postponed decisions.” The things you keep moving around are things you choose not to make decisions about. I know there are many emotions/memories tied to the things we own. We forget, however, that there is freedom in letting go. Those things don’t define us. Perhaps take one of those items and have a conversation about it with a trusted friend. Really process why you can’t let it go. Talking about it out loud and hearing yourself can sometimes help you make the decision. Let me know how that goes and contact me if you need more information. :)