How clutter hurts your life

I want to start the week off looking at some ways clutter makes our life harder, besides what Flylady calls CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome).  I think that’s the first and most obvious reason people want to unclutter their homes.  But what about other problems it causes?

  • Unnecessary complications and minor irritations:  I’ve had two little socks tucked into my laundry room cabinet for months, waiting for their mates to turn up.  Load after load has been done in my washer, and still those little socks sat.  Doing a deep clean-out of my laundry room closet resulted in me locating the missing socks—tucked away, at some point, waiting for their mates to turn up.  (Argh.)  Another perfect example:  each time I try to stuff one more plastic cup into my kids’ “cup drawer.”  If I just got rid of just one cup out of here, things would fit better.  Instead, I’m playing Tetris each time I unload the dishwasher.
  • Missing out on what is truly important to you:  Each time you buy a new widget or goo-gah, you’re spending money you could have spent on something truly important to you.  Avoiding even a few $20 impulse buys results in almost $100 worth of money that could be earmarked for something magnificent.  Think of it:  One $5 thingy that you discover during your weekly grocery trips; maybe one $20 item you discover “on sale” each month, and one more “oooooh, I love it!  I don’t do this very often, so it’s okay!” $100 splurge every, say, four months ends up totaling eight hundred dollars in a year.  Eight hundred dollars.  (And sixty-eight things that you have to figure out what to do with.)  Don’t whine at me about not having enough money to do [fill in the blank] when you’re up to your ears in stuff.
  • Wasted time:  This is huge, and I’m thinking about this because I just cleaned out the laundry room closet.  Again.  It appears to remain clean for about three days in a row, and I’m starting to think the only way to truly keep it clean is to take the door off and have it all on display.  By tucking things in there (out of sight) to deal with later, I’m skipping the less-than-five-minute route of dealing with something now, instead piling it up gradually into a morning-long project.  Less stuff, less time to deal with it.  This also covers the time you lose looking for things you’ve lost, because there’s no designated place for them or because they’re buried in all the other stuff you own.  More wasted time.
  • Wasted money:  This may be a reach, but in the piles of papers stacked on your desk there could be old forgotten checks or gift cards waiting to be dealt with.  There’s also the more common occurrence of buying things you already have (but can’t find), or not returning things you don’t need (once you get home and realize you already have one).

I’m sure there’s more; I’d love to hear your ideas.  I think that once we recognize how much harm we’re doing to ourselves and our lives, we finally have the reason to change.

 

A Different Kind of Clutter

I was sitting on the sofa at the end of the day when my husband asked me if I was feeling all right.  “No,” I admitted, “I’m not.  And I have no idea what’s wrong.”  We’d had lots of sickness in the house at that point, and I just attributed it to “maybe I’m starting to come down with something.”  I let it go.

As I lay in bed later, though, it finally hit me.  I’d had no time alone in….let’s see….I began to count back.  I hadn’t been alone in the house for almost three full weeks.  I’d had something to do, places to go, or the kids had had days off school for three weeks.  As a full-fledged introvert, it’s no wonder I was feeling so “off.”  Once I’d made that realization, I immediately started feeling better; just knowing what was the matter helped me improve, and I could start thinking forward to when I could make “alone time” a possibility in my future.  (Even knowing it was almost a week away gave me something to hope toward.)

I realize there are millions of Type A people out there, who thrive on “lots to do” and “busy-busy-busy!!”  I am not one of them.  So when I got to that point of being overwhelmed, I didn’t even recognize it for what it was.  I had too much “stuff” in my life:  not material, tangible possessions, but “stuff” on the calendar, which had filled up so gradually I hadn’t really noticed it.  I’d joked with other moms about how each “kid-free” morning had filled up with something to do; how quickly it went from “Gosh, both the kids are in school!  Freedom!” to “Gotta run!  Too much to do today!”

When things get too bad, too busy, I try to remember a quote referenced in Celebration of Discipline:  “I find He never guides us into an intolerable scramble of panting feverishness.”  (pg. 128; from Thomas Kelly.)  I need to remember:

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.”  (Psalm 23:2-3)

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.”  (John 14:27)

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”  (Isaiah 26:3)

“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”  (Psalm 34:14)

I challenge you to evaluate your calendars.  Do you see “peace” or an “intolerable scramble?”  I pray “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Philemon 1:3)

From Yahoo: “Banker’s $350K Pay Not Enough”

Sometimes blog topics just fall in your lap.

This headline made me roll my eyes–but isn’t that what it was supposed to do?  The article (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/bonus-withdrawal-puts-bankers-malaise-050100338.html) was an interesting read.  Some quotes:

“[Andrew] Schiff, 46, is facing another kind of jam this year: Paid a lower bonus, he said the $350,000 he earns, enough to put him in the country’s top 1 percent by income, doesn’t cover his family’s private-school tuition, a Kent, Connecticut, summer rental and the upgrade they would like from their 1,200-square- foot Brooklyn duplex.”

 

“Facing a slump in revenue from investment banking and trading, Wall Street firms have trimmed 2011 discretionary pay. At Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Barclays Capital, the cuts were at least 25 percent. Morgan Stanley (MS) capped cash bonuses at $125,000, and Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) increased the percentage of deferred pay.

‘It’s a disaster,’ said Ilana Weinstein, chief executive officer of New York-based search firm IDW Group LLC. ‘The entire construct of compensation has changed.’ ”

 

“M. Todd Henderson, a University of Chicago law professor who’s teaching a seminar on executive compensation, said the suffering is relative and real. He wrote two years ago that his family was ‘just getting by’ on more than $250,000 a year, setting off what he called a firestorm of criticism.

‘Yes, terminal diseases are worse than getting the flu,’ he said. ‘But you suffer when you get the flu.’ ”

 

” ‘I wouldn’t want to whine,’ Schiff said. ‘All I want is the stuff that I always thought, growing up, that successful parents had.’ ”

 

(My personal favorite is the “it’s a disaster” quote.  But that’s beside the point.)

What I want to think about for a moment is how each one of us, from billionaires to people making nearly nothing, are faced with choices every day.  (Alan Dlugash, an accountant quoted in the article, states, “If you’re making $50,000 and your salary gets down to $40,000 and you have to cut, it’s very severe to you… But it’s no less severe to these other people with these big numbers.”)  We each have to decide how we’re spending our money and our time, and all of us can sometimes be forced to make decisions and slash certain items, regardless of our total income.  Where do we choose to live?  Do we choose private school or public?  Do we choose cable TV or no?  Do we choose a restaurant meal or eating in?

This is our biggest and most important choice, though:  Are we recognizing our income and our ability to earn it as a gift from God, or are we looking at it as something that we worked hard for and earned on our own?  (America loves the idea of the “self-made man.”)  How we view the source of our finances should make a big difference in what we do with them.

Richard Foster defines “Inner Simplicity” in Celebration of Discipline:

First: receive what we have as a gift from God.

Second:  know that it is God’s business (not ours) to care for what we have.  We can trust Him.

Third:  have our goods available to others—“if our goods are not available to the community when it is clearly right and good, then they are stolen goods.”

“If we truly believe that God is who Jesus says he is, then we do not need to be afraid…the almighty Creator and our loving Father…we can share because we know that he will care for us.”

Are the financial choices I make as a believer reflective of God’s work in my life?  Am I allowing him to lead my use of our resources, putting Him first, and trusting him to faithfully provide?  Hopefully I will let God guide my choices, as I start with the choice to be thankful to Him for the gifts He has given my family.

One parting thought:  “There are two ways to get enough:  one is to continue to accumulate more and more.  The other is to desire less.” (–G.K. Chesterton)