What is the real cost of clutter? Other than the uneasy feeling of being consumed by your surroundings, is there a higher price to pay? When I meet with others in the organization industry the subject invariably will turn to some poor soul whose life was ruined by clutter. Here are some of the actual stories. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.
Case A: John has a son “Greg” who was an all-star pitcher on his little league team. Greg, like most ballplayers was a bit superstitious and had to have his favorite glove in order to pitch. His team had made the state tournament and Greg was scheduled to pitch the big game that day. When it came time to leave, Greg’s glove was nowhere to be found! Although the whole family searched high and low through the cluttered garage and house the lucky mitt could not be located. Greg refused to leave without his glove and after another 30 minutes of searching, it was finally found underneath a pile of clutter. By the time they arrived at the game, it was the third inning and the substitute pitcher started in Greg’s place had already given up eight runs. Although Greg got to pitch the rest of the game, the deficit was too much to overcome and Greg’s team was eliminated from the tournament. Not exactly the end of the world but who knows; Perhaps a major league scout was at the state finals and never got to see Greg pitch.
Case B: Sally and Bob have a dining room table just off to the side of the main entrance to their house. Since they have never really used this table, it became a depository for all the days’ mail. The intention was to go through the mail properly but unfortunately, that task wouldn’t actually take place until weeks later. The pile would grow larger and larger until finally the sheer size of it would force the couple into action. Some of the mail lost in the shuffle contained bills which went unpaid until well past the due date. These late payments eventually found their way onto the couple’s credit report. When they finally found the dream house they had always wanted they could not receive a loan approval due to their poor payment record. The kicker is they always had plenty of money in the bank to pay these bills but clutter had cost them a shot at their dream home.
Case C: This story is told repeatedly and some variation of it has happened to more than one individual. Jim is chronically late. His boss had told him that one more time of showing up after 9:00 AM would be his last. He rushes out the door at the last minute but when he gets to the car his keys are nowhere to be found. He remembers putting them on the kitchen table the night before but they are certainly gone now. His spare set cannot be located either although he searched through all the couch cushions and coat pockets. Jim was late for work that day and was let go from his job. He found another job a few months later but the pay was not nearly as good as he had received at his old job. His keys were eventually found in his three year old daughter’s toy box. It seems when the tot was told to clean up her toys she decided the keys belonged to her and tossed them in the bin as well.
This story appeared in the newspaper. An elderly couple lived in a house that was piled from floor to ceiling with old newspapers, dishes, boxes, etc. It seems they were a bit eccentric and could not bear to throw anything away. Eventually each room become completely full of this material with only a small shoulder width path left clear for moving about. Over the years the old man’s health deteriorated and he became bedridden. His wife would bring his meals and medications to his bed. One day his wife did not show up and the man became alarmed. He eventually made it to the phone and called 911 for help. When the authorities arrived they could barely reach the man. They then went looking for the wife and eventually found her after 10 hours of searching buried underneath a huge pile of debris. It seems while passing through a room she accidentally set off an avalanche which had completely buried her underneath. Unfortunately she died from suffocation during the trauma and the husband had to be relocated to a nursing home.
As you can see from these four cases clutter can greatly change the outcome in our lives. Be it something as simple as a misplaced key or a whole house completely filled with junk. In order to live the most productive and satisfying lives we must gain control or our environments and put clutter in it’s rightly place! Don’t pay a steep price like the individuals above and start now to make your life clutter free!
(Mark Pierson is the Founder of Wall To Wall Storage , a company that sells and installs storage and organizational products. For further information visit www.walltowallstorage.com or you can email Mr. Pierson at Mark@walltowallstorage.com .)
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