Many of my clients hire my teams because they are overwhelmed by the visual and physical distraction of clutter and disorganization. They feel they’ve lost control, and they want to deal with the “stuff” in their home.
Of course, everyone’s “stuff” is different. For some families it’s a garage that has morphed into a giant storage facility. Others also rent one (or more!) storage facilities. And some are shimmying through their home, avoiding piles of clutter along the way.
Others have had an “aha” moment when they realized that clutter is actually costing them money, time, and even relationships.
THE FOUR COSTS OF CLUTTER
If you’ve ever struggled with a house that is less than ideally organized for your needs, you’ve likely experienced the emotional cost of clutter.
You’re irritated with your family. Frustrated that you are in this situation. And when you look around your home you feel disappointment rather than joy.
You may have experienced health costs. Piles of clutter attract bugs and yuckies, who love to burrow in spots where they can sense they will be undisturbed. Having bugs and rodents is bad enough but think about all the dust and mold that could come with clutter. Treating allergic reactions or respiratory problems can be costly!
Additionally, when aging in place, clutter becomes a fall risk. One fall can change an entire family by launching them into action with moving mom or dad into assisted living. This can provide quite an interruption to regular life, especially when parents live across the country.
Short on time? Reduce the clutter! Homeowners who do spend about 40% less time on household tasks.
But have you ever thought about the financial costs of clutter?
CLUTTER IS EXPENSIVE (REALLY EXPENSIVE!)
Do these two facts surprise you?
There are other financial costs to clutter as well.
CLEAN-OUT AND CLEAN-UP COSTS
Even if you could tolerate the day-to-day stress of clutter, someday you’re going to move. Whether you’re upsizing or downsizing you’ll have to reckon with all that clutter.
More stuff equals more cost. On average, it costs $1 per pound to move small items. Does it really make sense to spend your hard-earned money to move things you don’t need (and maybe didn’t even pay that much for?). And of course, bigger items (such as furniture) cost a lot more than that $1 per pound figure.
At the end of the day, it just doesn’t make dollars and sense to keep items that don’t have value.
ARE YOU DUPLICATING (OR TRIPLICATING!) YOUR LIFE?
Can’t find your running shoes … or your favorite sweater? Duplicating items that you already own is expensive! When we allow clutter to take control, we lose it. Buying a new sweater because you can’t find the one you love not only costs money you don’t need to spend, it also adds even more clutter to your life.
MISSING OUT ON TAX DEDUCTIONS
Any deductions you can take on your taxes are a good thing … but only if you can find the receipts to support them. If you lack a system for managing receipts, you’re losing money.
We’ve all bought something that didn’t work out for whatever reason. And it’s great to be able to return that item to the store. Without a receipt, that’s probably not going to happen. The result? Lost money, frustration, and more clutter in your house!
LOST GIFT CARDS
It’s super easy to misplace these if you don’t have a solid organizing system in place. About $1 billion dollars in gift cards are not redeemed each year (makes you rethink your gift-giving, doesn’t it?).
Most of my clients who have disorganized homes also struggle with wasted food. If you don’t know what you have (and what you need), you’ll end up buying too much or something – and it expires – or not enough of something, requiring additional trips to the grocery store.
LOST BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES
Ever misplaced a business card after a meeting or event, or forgotten to follow up with someone you met? Depending on how you make your living that could cost you big (not to mention that it’s just plain embarrassing).
CLUTTER IS A HABIT YOU’VE LEARNED
And that’s good news because you can unlearn that habit and learn new organizational habits that work for you and your family, eliminating chaos and clutter … and putting money back in your pocket!
Ready to stop losing money from having too much clutter? Contact me for a free consultation phone call.
Happy autumn from Ann Arbor, MI and Waco, TX!
In my last post I answered a question I’m asked over and over … how to get my husband on board with hiring a professional organizer!
When a wife is super excited about the prospect of conquering chaos and ending up with a space that’s been organized it can be tough if the husband is hanging back – or just plain against the idea.
In that last post talked about ways you can approach your husband if he likes the idea of an organized home but doesn’t want to invest in making happening. Sometimes that’s a question of dollars and cents and sometimes husbands feel like the two of you can get it figured out on your own.
So what happens when your husband is 100% behind you getting the house organized, but just isn’t willing to participate in the process and doing the work?
That’s a tough one! But I have some ideas on how you can deal with this situation. It’s not as uncommon as you might think.
How do you convince your hubby to organize and declutter his stuff?
I know that might be a bit tough to hear – and maybe wasn’t what you were hoping for. The truth is there’s not a single, simple phrase or action that’s going to convince a reluctant husband to organize his stuff on your timetable (and sometimes not at all!).
Think about the last time someone tried to change your mind on a topic that was important to them. Like politics! You might have heard a series of logical arguments on why you should change your mind on a vote, a candidate, a position, or an idea. And while those might have been really good logical arguments, you probably need to let them gel in the back of your mind for quite a while before you have a change of heart. Or maybe you need to see the change in action before you decide if it’s a good idea for you personally.
The same holds true for organizing! After working with hundreds of families, I know that decluttering is an emotional process. While sometimes everyone in the family is on board at the outset, often one or more family members aren’t ready for the transition.
Seven suggestions that may help:
1 // Find your common ground. Focus on what you want as a couple – or a family – and use that as a starting point. It’s rare that one person is completely opposed to the idea of a clean and organized home. Usually their reluctance to participate is a fear of being judged for their “stuff” and the decisions that have led to the clutter.
2 // Focus on your stuff. There’s a lot in a house that you have control over – maybe most of it! Anything that is “your” space is fair game, as are your possessions and the ones your husband doesn’t care about. Feel free to organize the things you legitimately have control over.
3 // Keep personal possessions out of common areas. Your common living spaces aren’t the place to store personal possessions. When common areas are free of personal possessions, you’ll be able to enjoy them more – and the visual reminders of someone else’s “stuff” won’t be facing you at all times.
4 // Don’t lord your organized spaces over your husband’s cluttered ones. Rather than pick at him for the messes he (still) has, enjoy the gains you have made. Quietly. To yourself. Your organized spaces, and the calm they create, will be a great example for your husband.
5 // Don’t be sneaky. You might be tempted to start going through your husband’s personal possessions. After all, would he really notice if you removed those T-shirts he hasn’t worn since college, or those old textbooks? As hard as it might be, don’t remove someone else’s possessions without their permission.
6 // Don’t let clutter divide you. Love and appreciate your husband for all the wonderful things he brings to the relationship. Don’t resent him for not being ready to organize and declutter his universe, even if you’ve already done that in yours.
7 // Be patient. Sometimes a little patience is all you need. When your husband sees the benefits of an organized home and doesn’t feel pushed to help, he may come around and decide he’s ready to do his part. Now you can use all the skills you’ve learned in organizing your space to help him organize his space!
Do you ever wonder what kinds of questions flood the inbox of a professional organizer?
Whether I’m working out of my Ann Arbor, Michigan office or my office in Waco, Texas the questions are very similar.
And one question I hear over and over is this,
“Holly, I am so excited about getting my home organized. But my husband isn’t on board. What can I do?”
First – congratulations on being ready to tackle the organization of your home. What a great decision!
And ouch! It’s so tough to be excited about corralling the clutter and finding organizing solutions … only to discover you might be on a solo mission!
When husbands aren’t on board I find it’s typically one of three scenarios:
Scenario #1: your husband wants an organized home but doesn’t want you to invest in an organizer or organizing course or system. Either he doesn’t want to spend the money, or he thinks you ought to be able to handle this on your own (or with his help).
Scenario #2: your husband wants an organized home and thinks it’s great for you to be organized and have a more beautiful home as a result. However, he has zero interest in getting his stuff managed or helping you get things under control.
Scenario #3: your husband doesn’t care whether or not your home is organized.
Today I want to focus on the first scenario (we’ll tackle the second and third ones in a future post).
Here are some talking points to use with your guy if he’s resisting the idea of you hiring a professional organizer.
We hire other experts. Why not an organizer?
No one would expect you to know how to change your own oil, file complicated tax returns, make home repairs, sew your own clothing, cut your own hair, perform your own medical procedures … well, you get my drift.
Professional organizers are experts at uncovering organizational problems, diagnosing systems and routines that aren’t working, creating a clean slate, and then teaching and transferring tips, techniques, and tactics to homeowners and their families so they can maintain their newly organized space.
And there’s this to consider: a professional organizer can accomplish in six hours what it might take you six months to complete.
It’s super easy to get overwhelmed and distracted.
When faced with a chore that seems monumental, or an entire house that needs organizing, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. It takes three times as long to get tasks completed (if you complete them at all), leaving less time for the stuff that’s really important – you and your family.
A professional organizer holds you accountable, keeps you on track, and shortens the amount of time it takes to accomplish your organizing goals.
We’ve tried DIY organizing. It isn’t working.
Almost all the women I work with have tried to organize their home on their own – without outside help. If that’s true for you too, perhaps ask one or more of the following questions to help your guy understand the emotional magnitude of the problem. Sometimes women are trying so hard to be superwomen that the men around them often don’t know how frustrated they are. You might ask:
We waste time and emotional energy when our home isn’t organized.
Organizing is a fantastic investment in your marriage. When you feel organized and on top of her household it leaves you more time to invest in your family. Instead of dealing with the mounting frustration of digging for missing tennis shoes, that wrench you can’t seem to put your hand on, or that elusive thumb drive, you’re outside playing in the yard or heading to a friend’s house for a barbeque and a fun afternoon watching the big game.
Having an organized home improves your quality of life, reduces stress, eliminates wasted time, and allows your energy to go where it’s most beneficial – to your husband and family. An organized home usually means a happier spouse, and a happier family (oh – and happier pets too!).
And who doesn’t want a peaceful and happy marriage and a joyful life?
One of my clients in Waco, TX shared this message with me after I helped him and his wife... maybe you find yourself in their situation of needing more peace.
"Since Holly came, we have cleared out our house. We have downsized that one specific room and have sold things quicker. We took different tips from Holly such as different spouses having our own workspaces. Doing things like this has allowed us to not feel like packrats or hoarders anymore, but to have a more peaceful environment which is really a reflection of our marriage as we are maintaining the peace there. Thank you Holly! "
We’ll talk in the future about strategies for the husband who is happy to have you hire an organizer, but just isn’t ready to be part of the process.
This post initially appeared on hollysoutherland.com.