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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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« 7 Great Ways to Get Motivated When You Are in a Slump | Hydrangeas in Bloom Means the Wonderful Time Has Arrived »

How to Use "Dumpster Envy" to Get Motivated

Recently, one of my friends used a term I’d never heard before which caused me to think about our unique sources of motivation. While driving together and seeing a dumpster in one of the neighbor’s driveways, she exclaimed, “I have dumpster envy!” I’d never heard that expression before so I asked her to explain what she meant.

My friend shared that when she sees dumpsters, she becomes envious of the organizing and editing work other people are actively doing. It makes her think about her own projects she’d like to be tackling, like emptying the attic. This increases her desire to move forward too.

While I don’t have “dumpster envy,” I have experienced similar situations. When I see renovations going on or clients working hard on their organizing goals, I feel inspired and motivated to do more too. Have you experienced this?

The dumpster is a strong visual. It’s a huge container that gets filled with things that no longer are needed. Filling the container means that areas inside the home are emptying and getting lighter. The dumpster becomes the container for letting go.

Seeing the dumpster not only represented action, but it represented the hope of what action and letting go can bring. For you, maybe it’s not a dumpster, but another object. What will inspire or motivate you to take action with the clutter that's weighing you down in your life?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join the conversation!





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Reader Comments (17)

What a wonderful term! I confess that I love a dumpster, and I have seen the neighborhood phenomenon of "borrowing" a neighbor's dumpster when it appears. I think it is human to long for the discipline and focus to tackle tasks we've been procrastinating, and for some this is shedding unwanted possessions. Personally, I have marathon-envy. Wish I had what it takes to run those! Alas, we all have our strengths:)

July 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Seana- You made me smile that you "love a dumpster" too. I've not seen the dumpster borrowing as you mentioned, but can understand why that's enticing. I love that you mentioned the humanness in our longing to face those things we procrastinate about. Thank you for sharing about your "marathon-envy." For me, it's more like exercise-envy. I'm not where I'd like to be, but I haven't given up hope. :)

July 5, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

It's called "keeping up with the Jones!"

John aka OrganizingLA

July 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Trosko

What motivates me to get organized is a day off. Sound pathetic right, but organizing is my relaxing time. A time when I can reassess and revise systems. Just this past weekend I was able to clear my pen drawer which needed attention, find new homes for hair and facial supplies on our vanity, and labeled some jars that were not labeled in my pantry. I felt truly motivated.

I never heard anyone use the term dumpster envy. But I can see the jealous nature it would create. I am always jealous of people improving their homes. It motivates me to improve our home.

July 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

@John- That's one way of looking at it :)!

@Sabrina- It's not pathetic. In fact, it's great that you know what relaxes you. I can absolutely relate. While I love helping my clients with their organizing projects, it's always exciting when I rethink an area in our home or my office to release the extraneous and make it more functional. I guess the envy, or "grass being greener" can be a positive if it motivates us to take action.

July 5, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I completely understand dumpster envy. It would be so easy for me to lighten the load in my house if I had a place to dispose of the things that are lurking hidden away in remote areas. I also get borrowing a dumpster. If I had the courage I would take some of the unwanted items I have and dispose of them in a neighbors' dumpster in the dead of night. I think I will instead call a junk removal company. My motivation at the moment is a deadline - a date by which time these areas must be cleaned out!

July 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Diane- Ahhh. I can see that this post really spoke to you. It sounds like you are Oh, So Ready to bring in the dumpster because you have a deadline approaching. I think I can speak for all of us here that we're excited for you. Action is in the making. Change is in the wind. I wish you all the best of success as you edit and fill up the BIG container coming soon to your driveway.

July 6, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Such an interesting way to put it. I hadn't thought of it like that before, but it makes sense. I'm usually motivated by the end result and how I'll feel after letting go or exercising or some other thing I can easily talk myself out of. =)

July 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDeb Lee

@Deb- I love how you hold up the "end result" as your motivator! Envisioning what it will be like or feel like on the other side propels you forward. Wonderful!

July 8, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I just broke my leg in 2 places, so while I won't be running any marathonsuggestions, I hope to use this time to plan organizing projects. As my leg gets stronger, I hope to starthe "tooling around" in my wheelchair and decluttering around the living room and kitchen. While dumpster envy it isnt­čĺčit ls closer to it. Think on a smaller scale!

July 10, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen Martell

@Kathleen- I'm so sorry to hear about your leg...broken in two places! What an amazing attitude you have. I love how you're planning and thinking about what you'll do as you begin to feel better. I can see you "tooling around" in your wheelchair on your decluttering mission. What a great visual. And the "scale" sounds just perfect. I wish you all the best as you heal and declutter.

July 11, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Sometimes when I've been helping a client organize in, say, their pantry, or closet, or home office, I come home motivated to make a few tweaks to the same area in my own home. :-)

July 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHazel Thornton

@Hazel- It's awesome that you get motivated and inspired by your clients. It's one of the perks of the work we do...some built in motivation :)

July 12, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

As a former homeowner who has been in an apartment for 12+ years, I don't relate to dumpster envy. When I see a dumpster in someone's driveway, I associate it with expensive repairs, and am happy I don't have to worry about those anymore!

July 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Janet- As always, I can count on you for a unique perspective. I hadn't thought about that aspect that a dumpster can equate to renovation. One of the things I most enjoy about these conversations is being able to consider the diverse viewpoints. Happy for you that you have no more "expensive" repair worries!

July 13, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

wow !!!!!!!!
Awesome post !
Thanks a lot !

August 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLima

I've always been curious and just a bit envious whenever I see a dumpster, tthat cuboid harbinger of an impending make-over.

August 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

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