Save Time, Energy, and Money Through Decluttering

What are the costs of clutter?   You might be surprised by how much your clutter is actually costing you in terms of the drain it places on your time, energy, and money.

Time

Whether it is improperly stored information, tools, or items, studies estimate that we spend as much as 55 minutes per day looking for “stuff”.  If you weren’t looking for this stuff, what would you spend an additional 55 minutes of your day doing?  Would you use that time to work on a passion project, take better care of yourself, connect with loved ones, or increase your income?  Or maybe you would use the time to relax or have a bit of fun?

In addition to time spent looking for items, clutter takes time to organize, clean, and maintain, all of which is an additional drain on our most precious resource: time.   How much time do you spend shuffling stuff from one location to another to make space for more stuff?  And how much time do you spend cleaning and organizing that stuff?

In addition, we spend time doing activities to avoid our clutter.  A further hidden cost of clutter is the time we spend avoiding it.  Rather than taking the time to address the cause of our discomfort, we spend time on activities that distract us from it.

And finally, clutter impacts our ability to focus.  A lack of focus has us working on low-value activities or working longer than necessary on high-value tasks.  Conservative estimates show that distractions can add an additional 20% of time and energy to task completion.  What if you could save 10 minutes for every hour that you work?  Where would you spend that additional time?  With focused attention, what you might normally accomplish in an 8-hour workday, could be completed in less than 7 hours.

Energy

Clutter is a symptom of disorganization.  It indicates that we don’t have systems in place to manage the incoming tasks, requests, and stuff, and so it just piles up, unattended.  Clutter is also the cause of energy depletion.

It results in stress, guilt, and overwhelm which all contribute to energy depletion.  This becomes a vicious cycle of low energy, negativity and self-judgment that contributes to avoidance and further increases the clutter problem.

The energy cost associated with clutter is high.  Think about all of the times when you were unable to get started, or focus on the task at hand, because of the clutter.  Have you ever had the thought, ‘I just need to clear off my desk or my inbox’ before I can get started?  Do you find your attention wandering to the unfinished business on your cluttered To Do list, calendar, or in your email inbox?

Clutter consumes our mental energy, without us even realizing it.  It is like a radio constantly tuned to white noise that eventually becomes part of the background.  Although our conscious awareness loses track of it, it continues to be processed by our brain on a subconscious level.

Without even consciously registering it, clutter causes you to expend emotional energy that could have otherwise been spent elsewhere.  How much of your time do you want to spend frustrated about not being able to find your car keys or anxious because you are running late again?  Or would you prefer to spend that energy on planning, making high-value decisions, and being creative?

Most importantly, clutter contributes to decision fatigue.  When we are not making decisions about our clutter, the accumulation of those incomplete decisions starts to weigh us down and depletes our energy.  Whether it is leaving the clutter unattended, or picking it up and putting it down again, these deferred decisions leave us emotionally drained.

Putting off decisions is like running under water.  We feel slow and heavy and drained.  In the same way, clutter mentally slows us down, unlike making decisions which causes us to feel energized.  We can all relate to the ‘weight being lifted’ and the energy surge associated with making decisions and letting go.

Money

There are many hidden financial costs associated with allowing clutter to pile up.  Forced to purchase duplicates, spoilage, overlooked paperwork, paying full price or inflated prices, storage costs and over-purchasing are just a few of the hidden costs of clutter.

Have you ever been in the process of making a recipe or doing a home renovation project and found yourself short a key item?

You are certain that you have it, but after an exhaustive search of all of the cupboards, shelves, and storage areas, you come up empty-handed.  After a trip to the store to acquire the one item required to keep going, you finish your project only to find the missing item in a pile of clutter.  In addition to the lost time and effort required to look for the item and go to the store, you are paying for the costs of going to the store and the cost of obtaining a duplicate item.

Disorganized paperwork can also be a significant contributor to the financial cost of clutter.  I once found an uncashed rebate cheque for almost $100 buried in a pile of paperwork!  Missed applications, credits and reimbursements, uncashed cheques, and late fees are all the direct result of poor organization and paper clutter.

When we don’t dispose of clutter, we miss out on the opportunity to recover any value that still remains with the item by selling it.  The longer we wait, the more the item potentially depreciates in value.  In some cases, we wait so long that we actually have to pay to dispose of it.

Need help getting rid of your clutter?

If you are interested in how to save time, energy, or money through a decluttering program, check out the POWER Productivity Organization Coaching Program.