causes of clutter – laziness

i have been thinking recently about starting a new series here at becoming minimalist that researches the causes of clutter in our lives.  the benefit of the series would be to help me (and others) correctly identify what in my life is keeping me from living a more minimalist lifestyle.  the drawback of the series is that, by its very definition, it will take a difficult and negative look at each of our lives.  and i prefer to motivate people by focusing on the positive. 

but, last night helped cement in my mind the need for this series/category.  so, here we go. 

clutter cause – laziness.

one of the reasons that clutter and “things” begin to accumulate in our lives can be traced back to simple laziness.  i saw that evidenced in my life last night as i decided to clean out a storage closet in my basement.  it’s one of those closets that defies categorization – it currently houses board games, old shoes, winter gear, baseball cards, toys, old video game equipment, electrical cords, and more.  you probably have a similar closet in your house (one that defies labeling).  i was going to have a few free moments last night and thought it would be a good minimalist project.

that was, until… i actually got started.  i determined to begin the project as i typically do by removing everything and sorting into my trusty piles (keep, relocate, remove).  i began by removing the board games until… two of them spilled open.  so i decided to start with the baseball cards… until i decided to open the boxes and look through them (again) to see what i owned and reminisce for a bit.  because i was sitting on the couch and the tv remote was near by, i turned it on.  and my night was done.  the closet would not be cleaned, instead i chose to watch television.  the motivation was gone.

as i sat there watching tv, i knew exactly what i was doing.  i was giving up on the tough project for the mindless activity of watching tv.  i simply chose to be lazy. 

and it dawned on me, it is simply easier to live life with clutter.  it takes less effort.  staying ahead of clutter is hard work (physically and menally).  and one reason that i live with clutter with my life is because i have chosen laziness too many times… just look at my closet in the basement.

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Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. Christy says

    What a great idea and a great post. When our minds are overwhelmed, we don’t make progress and quickly lose interest.

    I discovered in this process, that a cause for clutter for me is not having an official place for something. I sit an item out so I can deal with it and because it never has a home, it never gets put away…it just gets moved from surface to surface. Having a real home for the things I own sounds so intuitive, but it was like a huge EUREKA that has made a big difference.

    • Jade says

      Christy, I couldn’t agree with you more! But I’m struggling with this problem not only in my “small clothing boutique” I have in my closet, but also when it comes to the men in my life as well. And what’s worse is, I keep them around just in case there is a miraculous change or I notice their worth in my life.

      Talk about the Linus affect! Your comment helped me to see that I tend to have many security blankets that do not serve a purpose and yet I keep them as place-holders. It’s definitely time to de-clutter my closet and my conscience.

      Thanks for the insight….I’ve got some work to do!

  2. michelle says

    so true! i’ve seen this recently in my own minimalism progress. i have an area that is challenging me. photgraphs, the ones that didn’t make it in the kids’ albums or my family albums i know some nights, my intent is great, but once i open one of the boxes, i suddenly get overwhelmed. and on the days that have been extremlely draining, i don’t even bother. and then there are the lazy days, where i walk by and know they are there, waiting for me to go through them with my minimalistic hands, but i just keep on walking.
    – let me know if you have any insight into this one. thanks!

    • says

      I have the same problem. I used to be a photographer and became the keeper of the family archive. My plan is to scan important images, too and pass on the rest the rest. The job is daunting and I have no idea how to start the project. I need insight, too.

    • di says

      Just make a schedule and record it on the calendar. Think over things before the time comes and the process can be completed more efficiently.

      There are many alternatives to approach things in different ways as there are to do without.

    • di says

      I sort toys after birthdays and Xmas. I sort clothes when the seasons change. I clean cupboards and closets in the winter. I clean the garage in the summer.

  3. Carey says

    I think it is a combination of being lazy and being too busy – my own move to downsize stuff has been hampered this week by too many events to keep up. As a result, the piles grow. It really takes constant vigilance to keep the stuff-monster down, doesn’t it?

  4. says

    This couldn’t be more true! I think to add to the laziness is being to lazy to find a home for those items – it is just “easier” to leave it on the table – I will get to it later. I don’t have the time to stack the tuperware – I will just throw it in the cupboard. Those extra 2 sec it takes to not be lazy – really add up.

    Thank you – I love your blog!

    • di says

      Pick up things as you pass by. Never leave a room without something in your hand. Never come into a room without putting something away. Discipline takes time.

      • di says

        I like to clean little by little on a daily basis. In this way, it never gets overwhelming.

        The more you practice, the easier it is.

        Try different techniques until you’ve perfected the most efficient.

      • Carol MacMillan says

        LOL That’s me here now :D I’m reading a couple of posts and then running off to sort something and then coming back. I have half finished areas all over the house at the moment

  5. Dante Iscariot says

    I find it not quite true to say it’s easier to be lazy. I find it much more difficult to live with clutter, now that I’ve made a start. My journey began after a very messy breakup during which I moved house four times in six months, so I got to see my Stuff as a burden. I’ve not yet shaken that mindset (but while there’s so much stuff yet to be got rid of, I don’t want to try) and sharing with someone who hoards everything (in our kitchen there are three, THREE, plastic spatulas :| WHY???) is far more difficult than getting my butt in gear and sorting out my Stuff.

  6. says

    Looking forward to the rest of these. I think in a lot of ways the WORST clutter is the stuff in storage closets, junk drawers, under sinks, etc. Clutter we don’t see but effects us anyway. The cabinets under both my kitchen and bathroom sinks have been cluttered since I moved in a year ago. Last week I finally got off my admittedly lazy bum and cleared them out. The difference is amazing. I live in an apartment with next to no storage (my neighbors use 99% of it, and that 1% came available just recently so for a long time the top of my closet was STUFFED) so I have that much more incentive to not accumulate a ton of crap. At this point the only stuff I have in storage is my guest bed (an aerobed) and the bedding for it, and my family is amazed at how good it looks whenever they come visit.

  7. says

    I’m not sure if “lazy” is the right word for what happened there. “Overwhelmed” may be a better word. Closets are hard to go through – especially if you take everything out at one time. Everything is jumbled together and needs decisions made, no wonder it’s easier to avoid it. Better to just tackle one box at a time.

    The “L” word is a hard one for those with cluttered homes to hear and goes along with shame. Most likely their inaction is a symptom rather than the real cause.

  8. Marta says

    Why do you have a TV in the basement to begin with? Doesn’t seem very miniimalistic to me… All the best. I enjoy your blog and have always been minimalistic. I have aslo finally convinced my husband to become minimalistic as well. And we will be moving in one year to a smaller house where only the essential will be taken. Everything else will be given or trashed. We are looking forward to having more time for ourselves and our outdoor (free) activities!

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