THE 2 WORDS ALWAYS USED BY PROFESSIONAL ORGANISERS
The words clutter and decluttering are bandied about a lot but what do they actually mean?
I set out what a professional organiser does in my last blog post and I now want to share the meanings of these terms because they are terms that professional organisers use every day!
Definition of clutter
First, a dictionary definition courtesy of a quick Google search (!):
(Picture courtesy of Google)
To break it down more, my definition of physical clutter (…emotional clutter is another blog post!) is items:
- which make your space disordered or messy;
- that are not useful, necessary or bringing you happiness in your life; and
- over which you have deferred making decisions.
I believe that clutter is predominantly the symptom and not the cause. It is a symptom of not making decisions (or not making the right decisions) about the stuff in your space. There are a whole range of reasons for not making these decisions. For example, it could be you don’t have a spare minute in your busy schedule or that you are unable to bring yourself to make a decision as it feels too emotional.
Definition of decluttering
Decluttering is the process whereby you decide whether the items in your space are actually clutter and if not, decide where they belong, and action that decision. The process will help you make a permanent change by enabling you to understand why you have clutter in the first place.
Hoarding Disorders UK has a helpful measure of clutter on their website. Their image scale can help people pick which picture in the sequence comes closest to the situation in rooms in their house e.g. their living room, kitchen and bedroom. Hoarding Disorders UK say, in general, having stuff surrounding you that reaches the level of picture # 4 or higher impinges enough on people’s lives to the extent that it would encourage them to get help for a hoarding problem.
(Photo courtesy of Hoarders Disorders UK)
However, what is important to note is that clutter it is about how you feel in your space. Everyone has very different ideas about what for them constitutes a cluttered home. For some, a cluttered home can be when there is a chair in a room piled with clothes. For others, it can be when they realise they are having to create pathways through their stuff.
A common factor in people wanting to declutter is that they report feeling overwhelmed or “suffocated” by their space. Your home should be a place where you can breathe easily and the stress of the day falls off your shoulders as soon as you cross the threshold. Your office space should be somewhere you feel efficient, productive and in control (to the extent you can!).
For the benefits of decluttering, see my next blog post!