The Science of Clutter
By Jennifer Snyder
onNovember 12, 2013
When uncluttering your home and office, chances are you'll come across many objects you've thought about getting rid of dozens (maybe hundreds) of times, but never did.
In these cases, and all clutter, I believe Newton's First Law of Motion can explain how it lingers for years in our spaces. An object (clutter) will stay at rest until a force (motivation) of equal or greater value acts upon it. The thought, "I should get rid of that," is not a force of equal or greater value than the clutter. As unfortunate as it is, thoughts cannot move clutter. We can't wish away our unwanted objects. We actually have to do something about them.
The other case of Newton's First Law also applies here. An object (me) will continue in motion until a force (motivation) of equal or greater value acts upon it. When I see something out of place I am usually on a path to take care of something else, not stop and deal with clutter. Then later, when maybe I thought about the out-of-place item, I could have been on a path to a meeting or to make dinner or to relax and watch a movie with my family. The motivation to clear the clutter wasn't equal or greater than whatever else it was I wanted to be doing.
The only way to deal with the clutter in our lives is to break the patterns of inertia and muster up the motivation to do something about all the stuff we don't want or need.
Surprisingly, the best way to create force (motivation) of equal or greater value to change the course of our clutter is to simply acknowledge that we have the power (velocity) to change the situation. After we think, "I should get rid of that," the next thought should immediately be, "and to get rid of it I have to take action, now." Then, take the action to get rid of the object. Knowing that the object will not move itself and requires a force to act upon it can go a long way in helping you to clear the clutter you encounter regularly in your life.
It can be helpful to have five boxes in an out of the way, yet handy, location when you're just getting started on this process. Have one box for items to be returned to other people, a second box for items you wish to sell or Freecycle, the third box for charitable donations, the fourth should be a trash can, and the fifth box a recycling bin. When you come across a piece of clutter, pick it up and carry it to the boxes. Decide which of the boxes is most appropriate for the piece of clutter, and then go back to whatever you were doing. When one box is full, deal with the items in all of the boxes.
The easier your system to handle clutter, the less force (motivation) it takes to get the unwanted objects (clutter) out of your home.
Have a Neat day!
Jennifer Snyder, CPOÒ
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