The True Cost of Clutter

Posted by Sue on Sep 23, 2011  

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.


Why should we bother organizing?

Given the actual time we spend organizing our stuff and the mental energy we spend thinking about organizing our stuff, perhaps we should start by figuring out why we’re trying to get organized in the first place!

When you look at the clutter that surrounds you – Whether a pile of magazines spilling off the coffee table, an overflowing file drawer or a closet that won’t close because it’s too stuffed full – You probably don’t see dollar signs. But what’s the real price tag – in $$dollars$$ – on all that clutter?

To find out, take the short quiz below. You may see you stuff in a different light:

In the past week …

  • Estimate how many minutes you spent looking for things.
  • Add to this the time you spent in extra cleaning that wouldn’t have been necessary if you didn’t have to work around the clutter.
  • Add how much time you spent organizing and decluttering.
  • Multiply this total number of hours by how much you make an hour at your current job.
  • Add to this dollar amount how much money you spent on eating out because you couldn’t face your kitchen or didn’t want to invite friends into your home.
  • Add how much you spent on items that you knew were someplace, but didn’t know where.

The total is a concrete dollar amount of how much your clutter costs you every week.

If you want to take this one step further, multiply your $$$Clutter Cost$$$ by the X-Factor: The X-Factor is a number, 1 to 10 that indicates your level of frustration, shame and embarrassment when you think about the state of your home or office.

Most of us are astounded by the number that we come up with when we consider the true cost of clutter. But I haven’t written this tip to highlight your embarrassment or shame. I’ve written it to underline just how important are our ongoing, committed efforts to reduce and reorganize the excess stuff in our lives.

It’s not about looking good.

It’s about having more time and energy and money to invest in who we are and what we truly want in life. I repeat: It’s not about looking good. It’s about having more time and energy and money to invest in who we are and what we truly want in life.

We can’t make all these changes in a day or even in a week. Anne Frank wrote, How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. How wonderful, indeed.

To a wonderful, fruitful Fall ~




1 Comment »


Hi Sue-
Just wanted to share some examples of what my students do with other folks “clutter”. They create art. Even the smallest ball of yarn can be turned into art by my young students.
I am sharing what they have created.

Cheers, Neko

December 25th, 2012 | 9:39 am
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