Do you have a hard time functioning in clutter?

homersgardenApril 14, 2006

I am so excited to find this forum. I have been checking out Gardenweb for a long time, but exploring these sites recently. I am a neat freak and have discovered that I can not function when there is a lot of clutter. Do you have this issue too? If I have work to do at home I absolutely can not start it until I know that things are fairly clean and organized. Am I crazy?

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Honey -- when the house is a mess ---- I am NOT a happy camper!!! (just throw chocolate in the cage and start mixing martinis!!!LOL)

Today I'm tackling another day of switching around the master bedroom closet (winter-to-summer clothing etc.)

I NEED calm spaces ----- and I require some empty ones too!!!

You are in very very good company!! LOL!!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 1:18PM
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For me it depends on the room. I do not like any clutter in my bedroom or the bathrooms; I can only tolerate living room clutter for short periods of time. But I always have a cluttered office (at home and at work).

But I don't think you're crazy. I have a good friend who is like you --- cannot function with clutter anywhere. And another friend who seems to lean towards the opposite extreme. I think we all have different tolerances.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 1:22PM
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I can function in a room with a little clutter for a brief time, but then I have to make sure everything is tidied up.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 2:08PM
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I can function in rooms with huge amounts of clutter. Now, do I function well? No.

I have never been a neat freak, still am not, but after learning how to get the clutter out of my home and get it organized, I realize how stressful my previous functioning was.

Clutter creates no anxiety for me. I just understand that it means I won't be able to accomplish things easily.

If I have somethng I need to get done, I'll start and finish it and then deal with the house. But that happens so seldom now that it's hard for me to remember that it was a way of life for so many years.

If I am starting a personal project, I know it's in my best interest to make sure my space is free of other things. What I don't understand is making other people wait because you are irritated with a mess. My DH makes the kids wait while he has all of the dishes put away and the counter wiped off. I hate that and think it's self-centered. Put a couple of cans of soup on to heat, feed the kids and THEN deal with the clutter. This from a man who can't keep 2 square inches clear in his office.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 2:31PM
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Nope. I often say I have a high tolerance for chaos. DH goes so far to say that I create and thrive in chaos, and avoid order. He might have a point. Just as I about have some organization, I do something spontaneous and messy. I don't think "this is too neat." I do like neat. I just get distracted.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 7:20PM
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Clutter is tolerable at home, but barely, At work, I cannot tolerate it at all. I had to work for a women for three months and after the first week I had to re-organize her work space.....she was not a happy camper when she returned but the boss liked the effiecency when I was working.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 9:50PM
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I must offer a contrary point of view.

Whether cluttered or bare, the critical aspect for my functioning is whether I can find the things I really need to function. In this respect, I am becoming [I believe rightfully so] much more rigid. I must know where my sweater is, exactly. I must know where the 1/4 cup measure hangs, to measure the oatmeal to cook for breakfast. Clean and bare is nice - but I'll take organized over it in a second. Does it have a place? Is it in its place?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 9:55PM
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Apparently, I tolerate clutter just fine, or I would not have survived till now! :-)

When I was working as an editor, my desk had piles of material all over it, but it did not look "messy" to me; there WAS a kind of organization, in my mind. Each pile represented a particular monthly issue of my publication, or a broad, general topic. If I needed a particular piece of paper, I could picture it in my mind and dig down to the appropriate geological stratum to find it. I couldn't put anything into a file folder or store it away until it was completely cold and dead--besides, I never had the time. By contrast, my friend's cubicle, across the aisle, was neat as a pin: on her shelves, the edges of every stack were aligned perfectly, and her desk was clear. It always made me a little nervous; I didn't know how she could function in that sterile atmosphere, but it worked for her.

At home, I have sometimes, over the years, changed the place where something is stored, and then, since it is no longer encountered frequently, I forget where I've put it. I only remember the original location. So, now that I'm older, I often leave things as they are, even if it's not the most "logical" place, so I won't lose them. I suppose I could reorganize and then make a list or road map of my home, but is it worth it?


    Bookmark   April 15, 2006 at 11:03AM
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If you're crazy, don't ever lose it. I learned to tolerate clutter when the shower in our en suite leaked into the adjoining walk in closet which then had to be emptied out and everything had to be squeezed in wherever we could fit it and we had moved some stuff back when it became apparent that the builder's repair hadn't worked and then, well, does anyone remember those Rubic's Cubes? My house is now like that. Too many things "temporarily" in the wrong place and the whole thing is logjammed (is that the word?). For too long I tried to be patient with the situation until one day I realised that it had become a way of life. Our house is organised on the basis of a place for everything and most of it in the wrong place.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 6:47AM
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Yes, I can't function in clutter!! I recently started working from home and find that this malady is creating havoc on my ability to work efficiently.

I am an organizational freak and find that I can't start my "professional work" until everything in my "personal space" in not only uncluttered but clean! I know that it is a diversion tactic. Sometimes I don't get to work work until late at night because I am too with house work.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2006 at 1:44PM
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I get stressed and physically ill if there is too much clutter or busyness going around me. I need and thrive on calm and serene.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 11:58PM
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I function just fine in clutter, but I my stress level is high when I have to do so. I feel much better when things are picked up and organized.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 9:34AM
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If I need a screwdriver, I could be living in a perfectly spotless museum and be miserable because I couldn't find the screwdriver. Although I don't like clutter, it is much less important than having things where they belong. I certainly don't relate to what you others are saying. None of you have even referred to the importance of having "a place for everything, and everything in its place".

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 3:39PM
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usafarmer, I think that's EXACTLY what most of us said. We just didn't use those exact words.

The OP just said she was a neat freak and was asking the opinion of others. So, it seems to me your answer is basically, "Yes, I can function with tons of clutter as long as I can find what I need."

Organization and cleaning are two differnt things. I may be able to find the screwdriver, but if the kitchen table is sticky with jam, I won't be able to get my project done very well.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 8:10PM
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I hear you, usafarmer. My place would be horrifying to most of the posters here because it is very cluttered. Can't see a table top. Stacks of stuff everywhere. It's been in this state for a year and a half. But it hasn't bothered me because I have specific locations for all the things I need. My day-to-day undergarments are stacked on the left top shelf of the first bookcase that serving as a dresser, my stockings are on the bottom shelf, my sweaters are on the back bookcase, my toiletries are on the writing table; my bills are in a stack folder with my stamps, my financial receipts are stacked on the left dining room table corner under the check book, my weekend tools are all in the plastic container bin, my painting supplies are in another bin..etc. My place is a mess to anyone looking in, and I do have plans to bring more order, but I have peace of mind because I have designated a place for everything I need and I put everything in it's place. I'm not running around frantically looking for stuff among the clutter. My only "musts" right now are to keep the bathroom neat, keep kitchen clutter low, and put away all loose clothing and shoes every few days.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 9:39PM
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Then I would have to ask if cube and farmer live alone or with a household full of people.

I've yet to see a household which is terribly cluttered where anyone can find anything. Everyone is always digging through the piles.

I can see how that would work if you are alone.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 1:40AM
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When the house is a mess, I am a mess. When the house is "at peace (Organized!) I am at peace. It is so rewarding to have an organized home!


    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 10:47AM
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I don't function well in clutter. The only exception is some task I can do entirely on the computer. I can focus in on this little screen and the chaos around me doesn't distract.

But I guess I could say I'm not working in a cluttered environment in that case. My computer files are very well organized - I know exactly where everything is, and NOBODY ELSE ever gets a chance to mess with it!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2006 at 10:47PM
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My inability to function without organization goes back to my school days. This trait has cost me dearly. If I can sit down and read a book--I feel like I am getting better. I am very proud of myself if I can read a book without making a book of notes. For me, it's a sickness. My husband likes to re-organize OFTEN ! It's madening when I don't know where anything is. He doesn't know about boundaries. Stay out of my garden! Stay out of my stuff! OK, so NOW where are the measuring tapes!? I don't know how some people can accomplish so much in their lives if they have this trait. Oh, I can accomplish things good--it's just that I have to be so darned focused (it's tiring).

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 5:14PM
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Well, I would not qualify for a âÂÂClean Houseâ visit, my place is not a pig sty, it is cluttered. Because it is cluttered, it is EXTREMELY important that I have a place for everything and that I put everything in itâÂÂs place.

My house is a shared house, but the living spaces that are in a state of controlled chaos are mine alone. Yes, it is easier to live with clutter when you donâÂÂt share living quarters. Not because of fear over someoneâÂÂs disapproval, but because you canâÂÂt force someone else to put things in their place.

I prefer a neat abode, but I can handle clutter. I understand having oneâÂÂs peace of mind disturbed. But for me, my peace of mind is affected by my financial health rather than the state of clutter in my home. I have âÂÂintentionalâ clutter; 18 months ago my waterbed sprung a leak and died. It was the type with 12 drawers underneath, so it was my dresser as well. When I got rid of it I was left with no bedroom furniture. I wanted to change the room but had a dearth of ideas. IâÂÂm not a âÂÂsuiteâ person and I did not want another waterbed. I hit an emotional & a design roadblock. I decided to live with clutter until inspiration took hold. Recently, at a home show, I found an area rug I like. Now ideas are cooking and clutter is slowly disappearing.

And, to usafarmerâÂÂs point, just because no clutter is in sight does not mean a place is organized. You could still be hard-pressed to put your hands on a particular item immediately if it does not have a home.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 6:20PM
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I don't know why, but I am almost paralyzed by clutter. When I finally take the time to do something about it, amazing things happen. I get stuff done without fuss and stress.

For example, I have a hard time ironing shirts when I don't have a place to put them where they won't get all scrunched and wrinkled after all my hard work.

In my experience, there's always some deeper reason for this dread of doing something that doesn't seem easy and rewarding.

When I dreaded washing dishes, I dug deeper and realized that leaning over the sink made my back ache. So I installed a longer faucet ... and when I started to dread washing dishes again, I realized that it was because my hands were drying out to sandpaper. So I got myself a few nice pairs of rubber gloves, and didn't dread it any more ... until my feet started to hurt, but now I have started physical therapy, and it was a good thing I got in there and did something about it.

My main point is that when doing some household chore bothers me, there is actually a reason besides mere laziness.

Look deeper.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 5:22PM
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