Clutter is a problem that can weigh us down. Life is easier when we are organized, but getting organized isn’t easy. It takes an investment of time and effort, and even financial if you get professional assistance. It reminds me of the opening line in the timeless book, “The Road Less Travelled,” where where Dr. Scott Peck says, “Life is difficult.”
When I read that line 25 years ago, I could totally relate. I still do today. Life isn’t suppose to be easy; hence why being organized is an ongoing slog. However, there is a remedy. Scott Peck left us with a brilliant anecdote to move us through life’s difficulties, like clutter with less negative consequences. I love when he says, “Life is a series of problems. Do we want to moan about them or solve them?” Read an excerpt of his book here.
For some, the routine of organizing their household or business is a tremendous challenge, and they could benefit from outside support. The reason can simply be that these people have more on their plate than others. Life transitions, such as a new job, an illness, a flood, or a special needs child are just a few obstacles. Also, some people have more attachment to their belongings or they may be perfectionists. They feel if they can’t do it right, then they won’t do it at all. The reasons are numerous, and these can add to life being significantly difficult.
These people may have stacks of boxes that haven’t been unpacked from a move a year ago, or it could be the frustrating state of their garage that they can’t fit their cars into. They may be in constant panic mode because they can never find things. Their drawers and closets are over stuffed, and their paper clutter is overwhelming.
Clutter is an ongoing experience for everyone; however, families more so because there isn’t always dedicated time to downsize as the kids’ interests change. An organizing project I did in 2016 provides this example; check it out here. The family was the parents, two girls and two dogs, and the girls were on the verge of going into their teens. The space was bursting, and stress for the mom was acute because the problem was getting worse.
What could be the repercussions of avoiding the clutter problem? I will address the consequences by referring back to Scott Peck’s book, “The Road Less Traveled.” Peck says, avoiding problems will make the problems worse. Avoidance is like adding fuel to the fire. We all know family stress has unfortunate, and often very costly, ramifications.
Fortunately, this family chose to get the help of a professional organizer to help them tackle their clutter problem, but for many, their anxiety stops them. There may be many reasons for apprehension to get outside help, but Scott Peck states at the core of anxiety is the avoidance of suffering. When I read that, I had what Oprah Winfrey calls an “ah-ha” moment!
Then, Peck goes on to tell us what makes life difficult is that the process of confronting and solving problems is a painful one, and the most important thing we can have in life, is the discipline to face our problems. The mistake we make, is to put off the hard things, until we are forced to by circumstances. If one of the problems is we don’t have the expertise or desire, then the solution is to hire outside help.
For me reading “The Road Less Travelled” in my mid 20s had a profound effect on my approach to life’s problems. I learned to confront my dilemmas head on, earliest hint of a problem. If I couldn’t solve the problem myself, I sourced professional help. The irony is the professional help cost me a lot of money in the short term, but I believe it has saved me thousands of dollars over the long term.
I will share personal experience that was very upsetting at the time.
The problem I had wasn’t clutter; I had a child who struggled in school. The problem was trying to put a round peg into a square hole. The painful part to solving this problem, quite frankly was the cost. I invested 1000s of dollars in tutoring. I didn’t have the expertise to fill in the academic gaps.
I could have gone with the flow and hoped for the best on this issue. But my early insight given by Scott Peck, I knew the school troubles would have gotten progressively worse, and other problems would have manifested. That kid is almost 23. In the end, what were consequences of me investing in the tutoring?
Did my kid graduate with flying colours and get an undergraduate degree? No. But he did graduate! Not only that, but he has held a full time job since he graduated, and he moved out at 20 years old – which is rare today. Currently, he is in a 3rd year of a Sheet Metal Apprenticeship. Needless to say, I could not be more proud.
We had the discipline to face and resolve the problem despite how painfully expensive it was. The irony: although it was expensive, we have received a huge return on investment.
Imagine, had we not made that investment, our son very likely would not be making a living wage today, and we would still be supporting him to some degree financially. I am certain. The costs in food, etc., would be about $1,000 per month. So, I had the good fortune of reading a book that had a truly positive impact on our life.
So, I share this personal story to inspire others to reach out for help when they have a clutter or productivity problem, even if there are costs involved. It may be difficult to quantify the return on investment but there truly is. We know a families under stress argue more, and homes that are tidy and organized run more smoothly and sell for more than they would otherwise. Although life is difficult, if the problem is addressed, life is sweeter in the long run.
A few hours may be all you need to get momentum and ideas to complete the project on your own. Call me for a fresh set of eyes, a source of great ideas, and hands-on decluttering and organizing solutions.
Organize to Optimize with Melody Oshiro serves Parksville and most areas of the Regional District of Nanaimo. Are you looking for more hours in your day to focus on what is most important to you? Contact Melody if you would like assistance in organizing your home or office. Check out her package rates.