Test Yourself: Do You Have Clutter Mentality?

One thing I’ve noticed about happiness: for me, and for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm. More than it should. In the scope of a happy life, a messy desk or an overstuffed coat closet is a trivial thing, yet I find — and I hear from other people that they agree — that getting rid of clutter gives a disproportionate boost to happiness.

If having a home, office, garage, car, or yard filled with clutter is such a drag on our happiness, why do we put up with it? There are many reasons, and having a clearer understanding of why you have clutter helps show you how to attack it.

Test yourself. Do you find yourself repeating these phrases, to justify keeping something that you don’t use or don’t even particularly like?

  • Someday, I might need this
  • This thing is so useful that someday I’ll find a way to use it
  • This thing is so useful that I can’t just throw it away, but I don’t know how to get it into the hands of someone who would want it
  • This thing was a gift, so I need to keep it out of respect for the giver
  • Just wait, someday this thing will be a collector’s item!
  • I never had this thing as a child, so I want to have it as an adult
  • The more things I keep, the more I will leave my family one day
  • Going through my things stirs up my emotions, and I can’t handle that right now
  • I don’t have the time or energy to sort through my clutter to figure out what I want to keep
  • I’ve had this thing for so long; I can’t get rid of it now
  • I forgot about that thing! I never use that closet/drawer/garage so I didn’t even realize it was there.

What have I left out? Have you found yourself justifying some clutter on some other grounds? The more I examine the issue of clutter, the more effort I put into combating it, because it really does act as a weight. (In that vein, here are 10 tips to fight clutter, in less than 5 minutes.)

William Morris admonished, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” That’s a great test for identifying clutter.

* I love looking through the blog Desire to Inspire — “inspirational furniture and indoor design.”

* If you’re also looking for a good book, please consider The Happiness Project (can’t resist mentioning: #1 New York Times bestseller).
Order your copy.
Read sample chapters.

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  • Rebecca Wood

    I don’t like clutter although I do think a room can look homely and lived in at the same time. it is a balance! housekeeping is one of my many forte’s.

  • Claire Taylor

    For me it’s all the paperwork that piles up because I’m uncomfortable to throw it away without shredding it I have an office at home and so it’s not just personal things it’s work related too. With my home shredder it takes hours to shred any volume of paper so that was a task that I was constantly putting off – who has hours to feed a shredding machine? Then one day I thought, there must be companies who will shred all this stuff for me in minutes and recycle it. I ‘googled’ I found several. Initially I was concerned about the security of handing over my paperwork but reputable companies have security certification. Some use mobile shredders and will shred in front of you. Then the paper get’s pulped and recycled. So, this is my 2013 clutter clearing break-through and yes, it’s a wonderful energy boost once the space is freed-up!

  • Elephile

    You are not obliged to get rid of things.
    When it comes to clothes, a lot of people advise getting rid of duplicates. However, if those are the clothes that you actually wear all the time, having back-ups is good for when things are in the wash or wear out.
    For several years now, many colors that suit myself and my husband, and match current pieces, have not been in fashion and it’s been hard to replace them when they are worn out. I have had to resort to eBay, and I now snap up anything in those colors that are of a design I know we will wear.
    My husband wears the same thing every day with a few color variations so his wardrobe is quite minimalist; it would make no sense to deviate from the color group he wears just because of slavishly throwing out duplicates. Duplicates mean you don’t have to invent a new outfit every day.