Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Resolution We Can't Keep in This Country

When we start a new calendar year, we tend to want to start fresh in all areas of our lives.
One of the prominent thoughts at the new year is to get organized or get MORE organized.
Being organized is ALWAYS a worthwhile goal, isn't it?

This is when we see stores haul out big displays and sales on Storage Containers and Organizational Systems of all kinds: from filing systems for the paper in our lives, to the clothes in our closets, to the foodstuffs in our cabinets, to ?.  Every area of our homes is ripe for storage improvement.
And the retailers stand at the ready with shiny new stuff for us to buy to make our lives more contained and organized.

It's true that in order to live a life that's streamlined and functioning well, we need to stay on top of everything in our lives, especially our "stuff".  But do we need to pull out the credit card or bank card or money envelope every January to buy something to achieve a functioning home?
The retailers will tell you YES you DO!
I say not necessarily.

Personally I feel that we don't have an organizing problem in this country, we have a "stuff" problem.

Now think about this......
How many people start out the new year buying containers, spending more money, and either abandon the plan to organize or find that just buying pretty containers and dumping your things in them is not a real organizational plan.

How many do this and by the time next January rolls around, the plan is forgotten and they are again, seduced by all those pretty containers enough to part with more of their money and start the cycle of buying containers all over again?

Do you realize that a fair percentage of people who are clinically referred to as hoarders follow this pattern of wanting to organize their things, purchasing containers/systems, and never do the emotional/physical work to change their habits and organize?  The containers just add to the clutter of their stash and every time they return to this phase of the cycle, more containers are added to the chaos.

Most new year attempts at getting our "stuff" organized are much like those new year resolutions we all make and promptly break or forget by February.  They seem like a good idea at the time, but the follow-through is just not there.

And if after all this organizing and storing away we still can't fit all  the "stuff" into our abodes, there are always garages and storage sheds we can buy, build and utilize.

And if that isn't enough extra space, there is a whole industry that is growing at an alarming fast clip that would love to rent you space for all that stuff you have that you don't need access to as often.  Yes, I am talking about the Storage Facility business.....a Billion Dollar industry that has grown up around our inability to throw things away.

Our homes in the US now are on average double the size of the homes our grand and great grandparents lived their lives in.
We have double the space for the stuff in our lives that they did, yet we still can't organized it all in such a way to fit into the space we have allotted for it.

We have more clothing & shoes, we have more furniture, we have more kitchen gadgets, we have more dishware, we have more food, we have more cars and related equipment.  And let's not forget all the electronic toys they never had, and all the hobby stuffs and sports stuffs.

And then there are the collections of every type, shape and size.  Most Americans collect something and a large percentage of those who collect have MORE THAN ONE COLLECTION of stuff.  And if you are stuck in a perpetual cycle of buying containers every year to corral your stuff, those containers ARE a collection!

If you can no longer use a room in your house or apartment for it's intended purpose because your "stuff" has taken over that room, you may have a problem.

Sure, if your collecting brings you joy and you have the extra space for it, that is great!

But if your things are taking over the space in your home AND taking the place of people in your life, perhaps it's time to take a good hard look at your life and the choices you are making.

If you bought less "stuff", would you have more room in your home?
If you bought less "stuff", would you have more time because you would have to organize and clean less?
If you bought less "stuff", would have have more money in your pocket to spend on needs and not be stressing out at the end of each month that your income would last?
If you bought less "stuff", could you spend that money on the people in your life instead?(And I don't mean buying THEM stuff instead.)

Make 2013 the year you break the cycle of spending on things that are NOT needs, cluttering and decluttering.
Make every purchase you make an INTENTIONAL, well thought-out one that fills a need!

What do you think readers?



  1. Ooooh, some excellent and thought-provoking questions there! I watch Hoarders (both of them), Storage Wars and that Extreme Couponers show - that one really makes me shake my head. The hoarders thing I can sort of understand - you literally get stuck and need the psychological help to get you out. The other two? Not so much. As you say, if we didn't have so much stuff, we wouldn't need to store it. And if you have to store it away, how much do you actually value it? As for the couponers...that verges on the ridiculous (unless, like a couple of them have, you do it for charitable causes). Buying, for example, feminine hygiene because it's free, but you're a boy?! No. I'm sorry. It's obsessive and ridiculous.

  2. Thanks for giving me a great laugh this afternoon! I'm a paper hoarder/cluttered and a wee bit obsessive about having a well stocked pantry. Great writing as per usual!

  3. Once again we are on the same wave length today! Posting on very similar topics. Creepy...? I think not!

    My sister wanted me to help her buy picking up a chest of drawers at a second hand store. TBG refused to let me do it because he is chivalrous and didn't want me stuck with the lifting. Her house is not well shoveled and whenever I help her move in something new, I have to move around the stuff she has.

    The point is that her house is crammed full. She doesn't need a new piece of furniture. It's like old-ladyville in her house. We go in and feel claustrophobic and end up with stuffed sinuses from the dust.

    And this is my twin about whom people claim we are so alike. This is another reason why I believe we were a freak conception. I just don't get how she keeps bringing things into her house.

  4. I completely agree with you. It also bugs me when people try to go green and they buy more stuff to do it. The real green thing is recycling and making do with what you have. Very good and accurate post!

  5. I couldnt agree more And since i was the one stuck cleaning out my grandparents and great grand parents stuff for my house I tend not to keep a lot We have streamlined all of our possesions and follow the rule that if one thing comes in two go out

    You are on a posting roll and I love it!!!!!!! I wanna be you when i grow up

  6. "Get organized; buy more stuff."

    Yes, that is ludicrous.

    As for the linen closet in the first picture, you have to fold neatly before the linens will look like that. I have had a neat folding fetish since I started keeping house. When fitten sheets arrived, it frustrated me to no end. (No, I will not do the tucking in like Martha teaches.)

    I only strive for perfect linen because it shows on open decorative shelving in the bathroom. If it were hidden and things would not fall off the back of the shelves, I fear it would be chaos.

    Towels and wash cloths are the only obsessively well-folded and stacked and culled items in my house, it appears.

    It is hard for me to compare what my parents had because they raised five children in about 1200 square feet. However, we always had a storage building on the property, then a barn, then a building that housed three cars plus lawnmowers and bicycles, and another room that housed my father's workshop. Then, there was a room in front of the workshop area where he like to build a fire. (yes, indoors in a little pot-bellied stove.)

    I have one useless "collection"--A&W Root Beer mugs. It sits above my cabinets, eight-feet off the floor, so nothing else could be store there and Well, that is my only collection, I think. I don't even like root beer!

    I had the occassion to be in the apartment of a woman on Section 8 housing. She had only tall furniture. She had chifferobes, chest of drawers and tall bookcases. They lined the small hall, the kitchen, bedroom, living room. I commented on all the chests she had. She said that was the only way she could get all her stuff in her apartment. She continually upgraded to taller pieces of furniture. She measured her spaces to maximize her use of wider, yet taller, pieces, also.

    I thought she was clever. At least it was not plastic or falling boxes.

  7. I have many, many, many flaws, but not so much a flaw of "stuff accumulation". Mostly because we're a little OCD about our neat-freak-ism at our house. Again, we have plenty to declutter (I'm almost at my January goal in the first week), but we're pretty disciplined about regular purging our junk. I spend the first six-ish months rotating through each room, purging, & then peter out by the last six months. :-)

    But, if we're going to talk about lip gloss. . . well, I'm trying to break the addiction. I LOVE lip gloss. People know about my affliction, & buy it for me regularly. I have a process where I can only ever use one kind at a time (at home, then at work, then in my purse) & feel like I'm cheating if I move on to a new tube before the old one is over. I probably should seek a lip gloss therapist. ;-)

  8. I used to watch Hoarders untril we got rid of cable. I don't miss it. LOL!

    I don't thin we have enough stuff to organize. Well, really, all of our stuff is organized...and useful.

    But still, I love reading your post.

  9. I have to get some of this stuff out of our house!!!! I would love to walk down a hall without tripping over a pile of laundry or a dog or three...

  10. We have gotten rid of so much stuff. I love to Dejunk. Yes, I use a word that isn't a word all the time. I have to say that dejunking has gotten a lot easier now that the kids are older and one has moved out.


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