Connect With Me

Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

Connect with me on FacebookConnect with me on TwitterConnect with me on TwitterConnect with me on LinkedInConnect with me on YouTubeConnect with me on TwitterConnect with me on Twitter


Sign-up for free monthly e-newsletter and get "Organizing Tip 101" series as a thank you bonus!

Buy Linda's book at her Amazon store for Autographed Copy!

In The Other Side of Organized, Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® will encourage you to get organized enough to reduce the stress of life’s details and make time to embrace your passions. Already, thousands of clients and readers have found help and inspiration in her advice, personal reflections on change and connection, and vision of what can be accomplished when you find that sweet spot between chaos and perfection.

Available in paperback or eBook for Kindle, Nook, iPad or iPhone and Sony Reader.

Professional Organizing

Need some help? Linda's company, Oh, So Organized! provides professional organizing services. Click here to learn about our unique Client Loyalty Program. Visit the Oh, So Organized! website for organizing tips, resources, videos and more. Make this your year to get organized.

« Clutter-less Gifts | The "Oh, My!" in Letting Go »

What's Your Clutter Tolerance?

Where is your clutter? Do you see it in the stacks that fill the surfaces of your furniture and floors? Is it in the pile of clothes covering your chair or bed? Is it concealed behind closed closet doors or spare room? Is the clutter the one piece of paper that sits on the kitchen counter? Perhaps the clutter isn’t of a physical nature, but instead manifests itself with the stray thoughts swimming inside your head. Maybe the clutter is in the form of overscheduled calendars and long “to do” lists.

Where ever or whatever it is, I’ve noticed that everyone has different clutter tolerance levels. What is clutter to one person is no problem for another. It’s fascinating! In my book, The Other Side of Organized, chapter 5 is devoted only to ideas about clutter. This is perhaps the number one reason why clients enlist my help. What I hear most often is that they are “overwhelmed by clutter.” People become overwhelmed at different points.

We love our things, whether it’s our possessions or our activities. And there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that. The problem arises when the things and events of life take over and begin wearing us out emotionally or taking over our physical spaces.  We become stressed and agitated when the clutter prevents us from living the life we desire. As I mentioned, each of us responds differently to clutter. These clutter tolerance differences can often be the source of conflicts and tension between people and in families.

For example, if one person has a zero clutter tolerance comfort level that means they are not comfortable with anything being out of place or covering surfaces. One piece of paper on a counter could upset them.  If they are living with someone that tends to collect papers in piles, this could cause problems for both of them. The zero clutter tolerance person gets annoyed with the other person and can’t understand why they make piles all over. The piler’s self-esteem can be eroded if the other person has no tolerance for their different style of being and berates them for being “messy.”

There is no easy or single answer to this, but I do have a few ideas. In our house, we have different styles and clutter tolerance levels. So to work with the variety, we have established personal and communal areas. In the personal areas, each of us keeps those areas exactly as they want. In the communal areas, we are more respectful of each other’s needs. I prefer to have less things accumulate, but realize that if someone is working on a project, things will be out of place for a time. However, when the project is done, those things get put away. In our daughters’ room, they don’t necessarily prefer to put things away regularly. So the door to their room gets closed and they keep the room as they like. When the clutter gets too much for them, they restore it to a more comfortable state.

Tolerance and respect is key. We don’t think or do things the same way. This is a good thing. It’s a matter of figuring out ways to work and live together, respecting those differences, helping one another where we can and letting go of what we can’t control.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (1)

Thanks Linda for sharing this very valuable thought! Each of us does have a different perspective and it is all about respecting that and compromise as needed.

May 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>