When Clutter Matters

Recently I read an article about people who collect things from the roadside to recycle and sell. The collection process was ahead of the recycling process and they were accumulating a large volume of stuff. They were happy and in tune with each other. The work was obviously meaningful to them. Yet there was some speculation as to whether these people were in the recycling business, or “hoarders”.

It might surprise you, but I don’t mind if you have a garage full of stuff, a storage shed full of this and that, or an attic full of treasures. After all, this is what these storage spaces are for. Up to a certain point, whether you choose to live with a lot of belongings or very few is a matter of personal preference. Collecting and recycling are a lifestyle choice that many people find rewarding and its important to respect that. A cluttered storage space is not sufficient information to label a person as a hoarder.

There is a point however, where collecting, acquiring and hoarding go to far, and at that point clutter matters. Clutter matters when it puts your safety at risk. Clutter matters when your living environment has become so contaminated that it poses a health threat. It matters when you can’t perform the normal tasks of living such as sleeping in a bed, showering in the shower stall, or cooking in the kitchen.

Clutter matters a lot when the people you live with feel overwhelmed and despairing because of the lack of space, and having no control over their living environment. Clutter matters when you feel like it is controlling you, and you are powerless to do anything about it. When collecting and keeping stuff has become a compulsion, then its no longer a lifestyle choice.

Sometimes it can seem like people who don’t have an issue with managing their stuff are judging those who tend to collect or hoard. It can feel like non-hoarders want to tidy up the world so that its neat and organised and manageable. But thats missing the point. The point is not whether you are neat enough, or organised enough to meet other peoples expectations. The point is whether you and everyone who lives in your home are safe and healthy and happy in their living environment. If excessive clutter is compromising your safety and quality of life, that’s when clutter matters.

It can be difficult to change habits of a lifetime, however your safety, health and happiness are good reasons to get motivated. Help is available through counselling programs that address the reasons for compulsive hoarding and acquiring. Professional Organisers can help restore the home to a safer and more comfortable condition. If you are feeling shy about asking for help, you could take a look at a wonderful book called Buried in Treasures, which tackles the reasons for compulsive hoarding and acquiring and how to start restoring the balance.

The links to the book are affiliate links with Australian online store Booktopia.  A small percentage of the purchase price is paid to Live Light if you buy the book through this link.

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