At some point, we’ve all done it: during the middle of a move or the week of finals. Somehow, everything gets shuffled. Some of us make it a way of life. But something not very many people consider is how fiscally irresponsible it is to live surrounded by clutter.
The obvious sums spent when living cluttered is in replacement costs. If you need it, know you have it, and can’t find it due to sheer masses of disorganization, you will need to buy another. Things I’ve found myself replacing include hole punches and rulers, glues, the right kind of clicky pen, and reams of paper. I have lost entire reams of paper in my home. I’ve seen on my desk receipts for things purchased last week re-purchased today, solely because once these little pieces of hardware waltz through my front door, they end up swallowed in the mess. Thus, the replacement begins.
Alternatively, there are the non-replacement costs. I just know there are coffee filters somewhere in the pile on the kitchen counter, but I just don’t have the time to find them to make my own coffee. Instead of buying more coffee filters when I hit the grocery, I turn left and grab a steaming bubbly cup of joe from a barista.
Some of the more obscure financial implications are involved with health. Our physical and mental beings can be so bombarded by disorganized buildup, we end up spending money we’d never have to. Physically we are exposed to dust, mites, and germs that thrive in the multitude of dark corners we provide for them between crumpled pieces of paper, a pile of shoes, the unfolded laundry, and the errant sock. Many have developed strong immunities to some of the airborne assaults. But others are missing work due to mysterious infections that creep out from the closet or under the bed, or those gripped by allergies or asthma are buying costly medications on a regular basis. On top of all of this, clutter is frequently both a trip and fire hazard. Implications here to the physical being ranges from stubbed toes to emergency room visits to, in an extreme projection, death.
The psychological factor of clutter is the most detrimental. Our brains are designed to categorize and place into the background much of what we see. Clutter is generally an ever-shifting entity, and the impact on the mind is a shortened memory due to the constant struggle to process. Next is a perpetual list of things-to-do, and since clutter is a habit, that list is as fluid as the ebb and flow of tides. Third, clutter can form blockades, preventing us from reaching certain goals, like the pencil sharpener in the corner, the jewelry box, or the coffee machine. In any of these cases, the result is stress. Stress makes us less efficient, more likely to make spontaneous decisions, and tempts us to take the easy, usually more expensive road out, like the drive-thru breakfast.
No one suffers from just one of the above symptoms. These things build on each other and feed off of one another. If you’re replacing things, taking the convenience route, and building medical expenses, you’re stressing about money, therefore working more, but less efficiently, and having less time to dedicate to that clutter causing the problems in the first place. Toss it all? Financial waste may be what’s holding you from that extreme measure. What then? Anything you choose to do that will end your clutter will very likely be an expensive move. Purchasing the appropriate tools, hiring help, taking time off of work, and trashing it are all viable and reasonable options. So, however, is the status quo. Just know, if you choose to plug on as you are, just how and where your pennies are slipping through the cracks.
Image courtesy of glynnish