Clutter control is awesome. It reduces stress, stops our stuff from taking over our lives, and helps us live more simply. But are there times when a person can go overboard with decluttering? In my opinion, yes.
Last week I was making a salad. My husband handed me the croutons and I took what I wanted. I noticed that there were only four croutons remaining in the box. Several thoughts quickly passed through my mind, like, “I should just eat the rest and be done with it” and “then I can clear a space in the cupboard and recycle the box.” Under some circumstances, thoughts like these would lead to productive decluttering. But didn’t I just waste those 4 croutons?
I’m not perfect. I strive to be organized. Hey, I love to be organized. But I’ve got a ways to go. And when I put those extra four croutons on my salad, I realized that I have to be careful not to go overboard with decluttering. There’s a line and I crossed it. Now, it’s only four little croutons, but attitudes like that could spill over into other areas of my life and I don’t want that!
After contemplating my actions with the croutons, I came up with five signs an organizer should be careful to watch out for to make sure he or she is not going overboard with decluttering. “Clutter control” has the word “control” in it, so let’s stay in control.
1. You are obsessed with decluttering
Do you go through your day constantly thinking about things you can get rid of? Does unsightly clutter cause you to feel stressed until you can get it cleaned up? These are signs of an obsession with clutter control. Getting rid of clutter is good. Letting clutter bother you and control you in a negative way is bad.
2. Your decluttering habits annoy people
I know a person who is so fixated on decluttering that he will literally take the soda can out of your hands before you are even finished drinking it so he can crush it and recycle it RIGHT NOW. These types of habits really annoy people, especially people who are not at all sympathetic to the organizing cause in the first place.
3. You judge other people for their clutter problems
As organizing junkies, it is very easy to walk into someone else’s house and think of ways they could organize their belongings more effectively. For some of us, this is just second nature. But when constructive observation turns into critical judgment of that person’s lifestyle and character, you’ve crossed the line. Having an attitude like this is very dangerous, and you should try your best to avoid it.
4. Your decluttering methods result in waste
This is where my crouton example fits in. I didn’t need to eat those four croutons. But even though they were only four little pieces of toasted bread, I truthfully just wasted them. And you know what? They cost money. Be careful not to get so hung up on decluttering that you start to go against your frugal principals.
5. Decluttering costs you money later
Have you ever hesitated throwing something away because you were worried you might have a use for it months or even years down the line? Clutter control gurus would give you a time limit to put in place and tell you to throw that item away if you didn’t use it by that time. Well, I think there is something to be said about the opposite problem—what if you impulsively throw something away in order to declutter, but then you realize later on that you needed it? What if you have to buy it again? That’s money you wouldn’t have had to spend if you had saved the item in the first place. Now I’m not advocating that everyone become a pack rat. All I’m saying is that there is a healthy balance between what useful possessions to save for later and what clutter to get rid of now.
It’s clear I’m talking extremes here, but they do exist and we have to be careful not to go too far with decluttering. Do you notice any areas in your life where you sometimes cross the line?