Is Your Life Cluttered?

By
Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Select Professionals, Lancaster PA

ClutterFor the past year, my home has been filled with the books, photos and memorabilia of two households - my own, and much of my parents'.

Being a naturally neat person, I keep trying to get it all organized.  It's more than I really want to own.  I don't want to keep it all.  At the same time, I remember many of the items from my youth, and I want to give my parents' possessions proper respect.  You can't just throw away memories.

It takes a lot of time to go through all the letters and papers and photographs.  It's been over a year and I haven't gotten through them all.  But I have come to a realization.  These items - whether they be treasures to me or junk to anyone else - have taken over my life.  Trying to organize them and decide what to keep and what not to keep, has exacted a cost in my home life, and also in my business life.

clutterThe further I get behind at home, the less time I have to stay organized in my office.  My desk has gotten cluttered to the point where I can't see the top of it, even though it's a good size desk with an ell on one side.  I'm experiencing what is known as "cognitive dissonance" - what I envision as my ideal working environment isn't what I see in front of me.

And there never seems to be enough time to do what needs to be done.

What is clutter?  Clutter is things that aren't being used.  Clutter is things that don't make us happy.  Clutter keeps us from efficiently finding the things we do want.  Clutter adds stress to our lives.

clockI think I have finally made an important discovery:  There is a connection between cluttered homes, cluttered offices, and cluttered schedules!  If we want to free up our lives, we have to figure out what's important, and discard the rest.  This doesn't just apply to stuff.  It applies to the demands on our time, too. 

We all have constant distractions during our day, and demands from others as to how we should allocate our time.  But each of us only goes around once in life, and the only way that we can get to all the important things is to discard all the unimportant things.  I'm glad I finally figured this out.  I hope I can take my own advice...

 

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Brian Schulman offers expert real estate consultation and services in Lancaster County, PA.  To contact him, visit http://www.FindLancasterHomes.com/

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Ambassador
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Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Century 21 Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI
(RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE

I only have 500 sq/ft to deal with lol! Now, my mom's house is another story...we've been working on that for a couple of years...we have to go there when she isn't home, load up both my kids and our cars and hightail it to the dump.

Sep 07, 2007 11:22 AM #40
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Brian Schulman
Coldwell Banker Select Professionals, Lancaster PA - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552
Sally, I totally understand what you're saying!   My mom's house, after a couple of years of "thinning out", still doesn't look like a dent has been made in it...
Sep 07, 2007 11:32 AM #41
Rainmaker
46,105
Joshua Talayka
Chase Internatinonal - Reno, NV
great point.  every now and then i stop and try and get things organized by deciding what's important, an discarding the rest.
Sep 07, 2007 11:53 AM #42
Rainmaker
135,689
Scott Cowan
RE/MAX Four Seasons - Puyallup, WA

Brian- Did I give you permission to use the photos of my stuff??  =) I am glad to hear you used the photos for example and not actual. I am a packrat and my wife has been on me for sometime now to downsize and declutter. Your post is a great reminder that I need to be working on that process consistently. I have been trying to store as much of my information electronically yet for some reason I am struggling with giving up the paper copy when I have stored it on my computer. Tonight I will go home and spend an hour working on my clutter.  Thanks for the motivation.

Best,

Scott 

Sep 07, 2007 12:12 PM #43
Rainer
2,937
Connie Cagle
Inactive - Hampton, GA
We are all going to die, and one thing is for certain -- you can't take it with you when you go.  Absolutely you need to keep all pictures, those can be passed down from generation to generation.  As for your attachment to things...do you forsee that you will ever need or use them in the future?  Clothing that you'll never wear -- even though some sentimental value may be attached -- give it to someone who really needs it; if it's not wearable, discard it.  If it's an article of clothing that especially reminds you of one of your parents, keep 1 or 2 that are your favorites.  Books, if there are some of value, then sell them; if there are some you know you can find the time to read, then keep them to read; all of the rest, give them away or discard them.  Things are just things.  I've learned that the hard way.  When my husband of 18 years passed away, I didn't want to get rid of any of the things that had belonged to him.  I then came to the realization that these things are just that...things.  Holding onto them will not bring him back.  Keeping all of my photos, giving rings and watches to each of our children, gave golf clubs to my brother-in-law, and most of his clothes to a needy member of our family that really appreciated getting them.  I knew my husband would be happy I did that.  If it can be useful in someone else's life, by all means give it to them.  If you can make some extra cash, sell those things to help you or someone else you know that  needs help.  Papers, if it's not a birth certificate, warranty deed, stock certificate, (you get the idea) then trash it or better yet burn it.  Put it all in 3 different stacks: To Keep - To Sell - Trash.  Now, just finding the time to do it.  You'll just have to pick a day starting early in the morning, and get someone to help you.  Best of Luck to You!  Every one of us, no matter how neat we are, will inherit some clutter through the years.
Sep 07, 2007 02:51 PM #44
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Brian Schulman
Coldwell Banker Select Professionals, Lancaster PA - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552

Joshua, until I got overloaded, that's what I normally did, too.

Phylena, I wasn't aware of Flylady, but it looks like she has a lot of AR members.

Sep 07, 2007 03:09 PM #45
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Brian Schulman
Coldwell Banker Select Professionals, Lancaster PA - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552

Scott, did those photos look like your stuff, too??  ;o)   BTW, I do the same thing with electronic information - I've lost it all so many times that I don't trust it without making periodic paper backups as well as electronic ones.

Connie, the clothing has long since been given away.  Many other things have been gifted or sold.  The harder decisions come with the more personal things -

Sep 07, 2007 03:20 PM #46
Rainer
157,842
Christina Bennani-Persechini
Keller Williams Realty Boston North West - Lexington, MA
Realtor - The House For You
I can't stand clutter either. To me there is no better feeling that a neat desk. My schedule is such that I have a time to deal with each area of my business from returning calls to my to do list and so on. It's made my life alot easier.
Sep 07, 2007 04:00 PM #47
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Brian Schulman
Coldwell Banker Select Professionals, Lancaster PA - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552
Christina, I'm fairly organized, but it sounds like you're more organized than I.  It's not that I'm OK with clutter - I'm definitely not - it's that I never seem to have enough time.  And yes, I get the irony that my schedule is cluttered, too!
Sep 07, 2007 04:14 PM #48
Rainer
9,890
Malika Cumbie
Alotta Apartments - Brooklyn, NY
Great post. I agree, how you maintain you home and office is a representation of you life.
Sep 07, 2007 04:29 PM #49
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Brian Schulman
Coldwell Banker Select Professionals, Lancaster PA - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552
Indeed it is, Malika.
Sep 07, 2007 04:58 PM #50
Rainmaker
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David Thomas
West USA Realty, Scottsdale, Arizona - Gilbert, AZ
Phoenix,Chandler,Mesa,Gilbert,AZ
It is amazing how much an effect 'stuff" can have on us.  Great post! 
Sep 07, 2007 06:03 PM #51
Rainmaker
335,122
Ann Cummings
RE/MAX By The Bay - NH and Maine - Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth NH Homes - Service With a Smile!

Hi Brian - I know first-hand the 'clutter part'.  I'm a really organized person, but at times my office can look overtaken, and I'm stuck in one of those times right now.  It's like that in a couple rooms in my home, too.  I need to take your advice and just deal with all that 'stuff' and declutter and get back to productive space again.  I do always feel so much better when things are clean, orgainzed, and NOT CLUTTERED.  It's time!!

Ann

Sep 07, 2007 07:25 PM #52
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Brian Schulman
Coldwell Banker Select Professionals, Lancaster PA - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552

David, it seems that we spend the first half our lives figuring out how to get stuff, and the second half trying to get rid of it...   :o)

Ann. I feel a lot better too, when my things are organized & put away in their proper places!

Sep 07, 2007 08:10 PM #53
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Brad Andersohn
Zillow - Nat'l Outreach Mgr & Dir. of Zillow Academy - Fairfield, CA
ActiveBrad 707.646.1876

George Carlin does a great piece on this one.  Get a bigger house so you have more room for more clutter! LOL! Great post, and congrats on getting it featured!! :-)

George Carlin and Stuff!!

 

Sep 07, 2007 08:26 PM #54
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous
But of course, my life is cluttered.....thank goodness it doesn't look like your photos here.  I work on decluttering each Saturday or Sunday. 
Sep 07, 2007 09:56 PM #55
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Brian Schulman
Coldwell Banker Select Professionals, Lancaster PA - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552

Brad, that's a great link...George Carlin & Stuff...  Maybe I should put it in the post itself!

Diane, thank goodness mine doesn't really look like the photos - I'm able to spend more time on it on Sundays, too.

Sep 08, 2007 06:37 AM #56
Ambassador
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Robert & Lisa Hammerstein
Keller Williams Valley Realty - Hillsdale, NJ
Bergen County NJ Real Estate

Hi Brian,

Like your style!  You hit the nail right on the head with this post.  Thanks for the reminder that we need to de-clutterize our lives and put things in priority!  We've added you to our Associates List and rated this post with a 5!

Sep 08, 2007 08:40 PM #57
Rainer
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Vicky Poe
Good Ole Rocky Top - Crossville, TN
Realtor/ Auctioneer
It may lay on my desk for two months and as soon as the trash man takes it away I remember why I kept it.
Sep 08, 2007 11:08 PM #58
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Brian Schulman
Coldwell Banker Select Professionals, Lancaster PA - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552

Lisa & Robert, your rating is much appreciated!

LOL, Vicky, I can empathize... 

Sep 09, 2007 06:41 AM #59
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