Collections of clutter may vary by the person, but the underlying behaviors and motivations towards stuff is what unites every pack rat, hoarder, and saver. Here, then, are the 7 habits of highly effective clutterers.
1. Live in the past
In order to be the best clutterer you can, it’s essential that you linger in the past. Forget what’s happening here and now, and concentrate your thoughts on those good old days.
Highly effective clutterers channel their yearning for the past and the people they’ve lost by holding onto objects that are in any way remotely connected to a memory. They are especially skilled at imposing sentimental attachments to a bevy of otherwise worthless crap. In so doing, their homes become living relics, shrines to the lives that happened twenty years ago.
2. Let anxiety lead you
Few things are as effective for clutterers as being deeply invested in the unshakable fear that they will, immediately after getting rid of something, find themselves desperately in need of just that item. Such people believe that to cling to all manner of belongings will therefore ensure they never have to experience that terribly uncomfortable regret.
They are skilled at projecting limiting beliefs about their financial status, their ability to access the outside world, et al. They fear most finding themselves in a position of lacking what they need.
Simultaneously, they propagate the belief that they will surely lack the resources needed to acquire what they need, should the need for acquisition arise in the future.
3. Live in the future
Ah, the great clutterer’s ability to see past the present to that golden ever-coming-day, when she will finally reach for that dress that’s absolutely impractical in all ways, doesn’t fit, and is printed in sensory-exhaustive, oversized Hawaiian flowers. Because one day (although she never travels, and positively abhors the ocean) she might just happen to find herself, her cruise ship having spit her out on a Caribbean island for the day, needing something appropriately festive to festoon herself with (although she concurs Hawaiian print is never festive, but only ironic). One day.
And anyhow, even if she doesn’t end up needing it, her daughter (whom she’s bound to have any year now) will almost certainly like to use it for a halloween costume.
This future-vision is what helps the clutter-prone person to collect, to stock up, and to continually amass material belongings without regard to reality, aesthetic purposes, and practical application.
4. Delay decisions
If you want to be a highly effective clutterer, it’s practically a requirement that you regard decision making as the most grueling and arduous task life has to offer.
Skilled clutterers are apt to find any number of excuses to avoid making decisions, and are notably disposed to turn out the phrase, “I’ll deal with that later.”
By consistently avoiding making decisions, effective clutterers thereby weaken their decision-making muscles. This leads to the cultivation of a wavering attitude in life, and to placing a great deal of trust in the opinions of others, and much less so in oneself and one’s own ability to think clearly.
5. Be ruled by guilt
Highly effective clutterers are closely acquainted with guilt.
Unable to forgive themselves and the mistakes they might have made in the past, effective clutterers remind themselves of the things for which they should feel guilty daily. Things such as: the amount of money they spent (wasted) on a pair of pants, the fact that an item in their possession was once gifted to them, and so on.
The prominence of guilt is what forms an unbreakable bond of obligation between belonging and being, so that the clutterer appears stuck with their stuff forever.
6. Have poor time management skills
The bedrock for all effective clutterers is an imbalance in daily scheduling.
Highly effective clutterers often overcommit themselves to other people’s causes. For them, making time for themselves and necessary household maintenance is not possible.
Moreover, they use their self-created busy syndrome as an additional excuse for why their stuff is in such disarray.
7. Don’t change
Above all, the highly effective clutterer believes that changing is optional, and it is a phenomenon out of which he or she has opted. Inflexibility prevents any reevaluation of the clutterer’s belongings in order to determine whether decisions made in sound mind or not some years ago remain as apt today.
Certainly the decisions stand, the clutterer retorts, for to even suggest that those 7-inch stilettos are no longer necessary (or necessarily appropriate) for the PTA mom would be to suggest that the clutterer’s lifestyle has changed, which it hasn’t, because it couldn’t have, and so the shoes stay.
P.S. Obviously, this post is intended to be a more comical approach to the matter of clutter and those prone to clutter. My regard for those who struggle with it remains one of deep loving care. If you or someone you know is struggling with clutter, it would be my greatest honor to help. I promise not to ever mock you/them unless expressly invited to do so. No, kidding, I really would never. Image credits: Christopher Baker Photography, Herve Pierre via The Selby, Louise Roe via The Coveteur, Christopher Baker Photography x 2, unknown