Cluttering and Time Management

trilobiteApril 1, 2011

I have an odd question. Do you find hoardy or cluttery tendencies to be related to time management?

My parents both have a bit of the cluttery/hoardy thing going on. (I have it too, but I read boards like these to keep it in check.)

But both of them, when they want, they can both just piddle away time. Which we all do and a certain amount of piddling is IMHO, healthy. But I'm talking of years and years of, "Oh, I'll get around to that..." or list of reasons as to why now is not a good time to do something.

I suppose what I'm really saying is that this stuff seems related to procrastination. But I think it's also related to executive function, the ability to plan and carry out a plan.

I don't think I'm saying anything new here, but I dunno, for some reason today it just hit me how this all seems to be related. Thoughts?

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YES! Definitely! Or at least I must say it applies to me. But there is something else to think about and that is if they are in pain, possibly a low level of chronic pain (maybe all old age is low level chronic pain?). I find myself doing that which requires the least amount of movement unless strongly motivate. Sitting at the computer is very nice regarding low movement. Also, watching TV. I find myself not putting up stuff after I've taken things from another room for example because of all the steps involved to put it back. I was always a very active person until now when I have neuropathy in my feet - keeps me somewhat off balance and now and then requires me to use a cane but I can walk a mile for exercise so it's not impossible. I just need to take meds (in the form of certain vitamins/supplements since I'm trying to avoid real drugs - it would be all downhill if I took those).

Anyway, I think you are right on target but don't forget to think of the procrastination possibly being a result of pain avoidance rather than work avoidance (and might even be on a somewhat subconscious level if they aren't into introspection too much.)

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 3:37PM
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First thing popping in my head:

I think some procrastination has to do with mis-calculating how long it takes to get a task done.

Case in point: I HATE to unload the dishwasher. In my procrastinating, deluded mind, I feel this job takes about 20 minutes and it's tedious to put items in all the appropriate drawers/shelves.

The REALITY is...when setting the timer on my cell phone to check myself, this task takes me 5 minutes.

When I find myself procrastinating the dishwasher, I remind myself that I will be done in 5 minutes despite the fact I feel, believe, and expect with all my heart it takes 20. It's my motivator to get off my butt and get this dumb chore over with.

I've seen the similar phenomena with my co-workers who are chronically late & put off paperwork & submittals.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 5:04PM
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Elphaba, that's an interesting thought. I know my mother views such creature comforts as OTC medicine as highly suspect. She'd rather struggle with a headache or let her skin get chapped than take some aspirin or put on hand lotion. Especially getting older, that can't possibly be a comfortable way to live.

I think in my father's case, he just should have never been a homeowner. Their bathroom has not had a working bath/shower for at least a decade. At first, his attitude was, "well the one contractor I talked to wanted to do a full re-gut and I don't want that". Now his attitude is, "well the whole house is a disaster, so there's no point in fixing this one thing".

I don't think anyone likes interviewing contractors when they need work done, but he just takes it to a new level. I've offered when I've had work done, "Oh, why don't I arrange for the contractor to give you an estimate for X at your house after he's given me an estimate for Y at my house?" and my father's just not interested. I think he's convinced someone will magically drop out of the sky who will do tons of work for a home-cooked dinner or something like that.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 11:35AM
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I've always had a problem with time management. In school I was the kid who waited to the night before it was due to write a book report, Same thing in college. I would wait to the last minute and do my term paper by staying up all night drinking coffee and typing. Same at work. My boss made me read a book on time management. Not sure of the title but it ceertainly applied to me. Even now I'll let the house get bad with clutter, then invite family over for a party, dash around the day before tidying.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 12:55PM
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What about different priorities? I'd love to have a perfectly lovely home, but I have no interest in making it happen. I'd much rather read or sew or talk or walk or watch TV or cook...or just piddle away the time. It's just as easy for me to take the dishes I need out of the dishwasher as it is to take them out of the cupboard...Hub or I will get around to emptying and reloading a little later. Meanwhile, we're enjoying each other like never before.

I don't know about your parents, but my kids' parents have spent the last six years talking and playing with each other, letting the house go, if you will. Our house is clean-ish and cluttered with the memories of life, and we do things at the last minute. Plans? Heck, spontaneity is much more fun! We've been responsible together for more than 40 years.

I guess what I'm saying is if they're happy, don't worry. We all have our different levels of comfort. It doesn't seem as if the health dept is going to shut them down, and as long as they have their marbles, there isn't much you can do. Maybe they have money troubles - we sure do - and can't afford the repairs they need.

You're a good daughter to be concerned about them, but maybe they were always this way and you just took it in stride, or maybe you never noticed. Maybe they are happy to be "off the clock" and free to procrastinate. I still haven't done our taxes.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 10:03AM
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I haven't done my taxes either. Remember, I wait to the last minute. Hubby asked about it yesterday, I told him I'll "Get A Round Tuit."

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 10:39AM
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I agree completely with sherrmann. After 45 years "on the clock", it's a blessing to be off. I can't remember all of the saying: "My house is clean enough to be healthy, and ..." (can't remember the rest). I do know that I did more housework when I was working, but I guess when I retired, I really retired.

I'm definitely not a hoarder. I remember when I used to buy so much and my husband would say why don't we just bring it over to so and so's house, because that's where it's going to end up.

I sort of have no concept of time any longer and that's fine, too. Sometimes we have dinner at 4 pm, and sometimes at 9 pm or, yikes, sometimes we're just not hungry. I remember years of getting up before the crack of dawn to start the crockpot or something to be sure that a wonderful dinner was on the table. I don't think we'll leave a mess for our kids - I hope not. If we do, they'll have to take some of their inheritance and hire someone.

In the Spring and Fall we do a major (to us) cleaning and the rest of the year, we just live and take care of each other. It's all good. We've spent our lives planning and carrying out plans and we still got old. Never thought that would happen, but it did. Now it's time to enjoy just living.

Just love your parents. That's all they need and want. They know that you care. It took me awhile to adjust to not being the go to person at work and the one who everyone turned to for help, but I finally got it and life is easier. People just change as they get older. Of course I still wish I could do what I used to do, but I can't and it's ok because it has to be.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 5:30AM
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trilobite, part of what you are hearing is the question, are your parents asking you to take on their problems or issues, or complaining so much that visiting is miserable, or are you just a concerned, noticing-type person and are wondering what to do? And there is a middle ground--one can make a casual offer to help, if one really has the time or talent, such as offers for contacting a repair person, getting estimates, offering something as an anniversary present, or whatever. But if it's just that the parents aren't doing things the way you would ( or think you would, since I'm really enjoying hearing the perspectives of some folks here that I estimate are a bit further into their wisdom years, then you're also hearing, welcome to the club--that's just life. So we can all try to learn when and how to let some of that concern "go".

When my mother was living as a middle-aged, divorced, kind of hoardy-cluttery person she expressed a lot of anger and misery directed at others, said she couldn't have anyone over to visit, held up this ideal of sunny relationships and cozy visits but there was no place even for me to sit or lie down when I came to visit, no counter space to fix a sandwich, and she did not want me to re-arrange or remove anything ( we even did that once, thinking that WAS how to help, and got a lot of wailing for it; also tried intervention and counseling help, also turned out very badly). So that was hard because of the disconnect between what she said she wanted and what she was willing or able to do. She was not a happy eccentric Bohemian with a busy life and circle of friends.

My MIL and FIL had a different road, in that although they were ( and are) cluttery and keepers of reams of family stuff in spare rooms, kitchen counters and table covered up, and my MIL especially has enormous trouble letting go of anything that ever was touched by one of her relatives, and they had ceilings and walls that needed to be refurbished and many things, in an old house, that could have been upgraded or repaired, but they never moaned that they wanted a neater home or that some outside force or person was preventing them from doing this or that, and they have maintained active, helpful lives full of friendships and family togetherness. So DH and I tried to be "available" for any help but avoid acting as though they were some how not measuring up to some kind of standard for geriatric housekeeping! (Especially since we struggle ourselves!) We are now having to make another trip to their hometown to help them break free of this old home after they've already moved to their new apartment but can't quite get the home ready for estate sale and final sale. Yeah, it would be "better" if they had all their stuff under control, but who expects perfection? In the grand scheme of things, they have helped us so much with our kids and overall lives, we are just saying, now they are having a bit of a struggle, it is our turn to help, we will do what we can. That means we may take some more stuff temporarily and let it go later, or go down memory lane sorting through some final things to help MIL feel that her things are appreciated, or just murmur supportive words like, well, from what we can see it looks like it's time to call your estate sale people. It's their gracious lives and attitudes that really help us to do this as just something families do for each other; if they were ranting and laying guilt on us and bickering and miserable, it would be terrible, but we have not experienced that (my FIL told us on the phone we should feel free to give them a swift kick when needed) --just getting a glimpse of how different people make big transitions as life progresses.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 10:56AM
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Hi, I hear what you're all saying about not expecting my parents to live my lifestyle. Some of it is that and I thank you all for pointing that out.

But my parents' home has real problems associated with deferred maintenance. There's no one bathroom where everything works, there's an overwhelming smell of must, if something breaks they put it in the woods to deal with "later", there's an iron-rich well that ruins clothing with rust stains and there are two additional mouldering outbuildings on the property.

I do think the condition of the house sets up a barrier between them and other family members, but in all fairness, I'm not sure they see that as a bad thing.

Also, I do think they pooh-pooh the concerns of family members as being a difference in lifestyle (and again, some of it is, some of it is just being unable to tolerate the house).

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 11:42AM
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This is me. and I will tell you what I have realized.

When i don't do these things, it's because I really don't want to spend my time that way. And yes, sometimes I think that I shouldn't be a homeowner.

It's incredibly daunting to think of hiring a contractor. It took me years. And every time I did, I'd end up worse off than if I'd lived with it. Because not only was it yuckier looking, or as yucky looking, but I'd spent money on it.

Only one time was it good, and that was because it was SO awful to start. And it's really awful again, in a very short time.

But even stuff like just piddling away my time?

I'm not facing up to the fact that I don't WANT to do these things. And that therefore I shouldn't even start them, or should stop kidding myself.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 7:22PM
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Just a thought-could you get together with family and "gift" some contractor work for the bathroom?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 10:20AM
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I excel at puttering. Lately I've been thinking that my tendency to clutter is for the most part due to lack of routines and perhaps a mild case of ADD. Let me be honest, housekeeping is not my favorite but it is part of my job as a SAM and as an adult we just need to do some things that we don't want to do. So between my dislike for the tasks, a mild case of ADD, the clutter itself is distracting, and lack of routines - things can go you no where real quick.

My youngest child has gone off to college now and I find the lack of routine to be worse than ever. I can only imagine what years of retirement might bring. Before this point, their schedule was at least some schedule I had to maintain so something got done. Now, there really is no schedule at all, which I suspect is true for your parents - nothing really pressing that it would matter if it got done today or not. So it's all on the list.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 7:09AM
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I agree with Talley Sue. There are things I'd like to do, but not bad enough to DO them. And the $ I've spent over the yeras didn't matter. New flooring looks as bad as what I replaced in just 5 years or so, the remodeled kitchen from 12 13 years ago looks really dated and shabby now, the bathroom improvements look as bad as the original after 10 years. The only way to stay ahead of this is to move every 5 years!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 11:04PM
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I think it has to do with procrastination and sometimes depression, especially in the elderly. I think we feel defeated when we can't complete our visions of what we want for our homes and don't have help to achieve our goals, or proper contractors to do it right!
Mommabird, everything looks dated after 10 years. Stay on it; one step at a time! Toss out what doesn't fit your vision -- it doesn't matter if it's family stuff or gifts of stuff you don't want -- get rid of it -- clear it out and fix your home the way you want!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 8:56PM
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Getting back to Trilobite's original question - whether hoarding is connected to executive function, the ability to plan and carry out a plan. I don't think so.

"I will get to it later" is a good response by a hoarder to someone who wants the hoarder to get rid of stuff. There is no end to excuses that hoarders give and the excuse usually doesn't stand up to reason.

I know three people, all in quite different circumstances, who have hoarding tendencies. When pressed to explain their collecting, all justify the hoarding in different ways.

The issue, as I see it, comes down to a fear of change. They have lived in the same place for years, are not early adopters of new technology, and don't think about new ideas and approaches to life.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 9:47AM
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Trilobyte - thank you for this interesting thread. I am esp. indebted to Gayle0000 for her wise words about miscalculating the time needed to do tasks. I have found when feeling like procrastinating that I think of her words, and am motivated to JUST DO IT - I tell myself that it won't take that long (as long as I think) and I'm amazed at how motivating and effective this strategy has become for me. THANKS!!!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 8:41PM
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This thread was massively helpful and insightful.. Definitely challenged me to look at some of my personal habits. I think clutter/hoarding or the lack thereof is definitely a reflection of the life you've led and continue to lead.

For me, I've always associated material objects with a strong emotional attachment. I had things from middle school still! It was pretty ridiculous. Boxes and boxes of paperwork and sentimental stuff. I also had weird odds and ends -- massive amounts of band aids, post-its, paper clips, pens, etc.

Long story short, events occurred in my life where I was forced to live from a suitcase for over eight months. Definitely made me realize how little you actually need to live (and live well for the most part). Put a lot of things in perspective.

I think I was always worried I wouldn't be able to survive hardships in life without a massive supply of crap. It came from self-doubt. I thought, "Oh my gosh, what if I throw out this (rather useless and derelict) lamp and find out I needed it??" Or, "You can never have enough band-aids. I should save them all, even the band-aid sizes I never use! You never know." Btw, you can have enough band-aids and then some.

So, long story short.. I had to change my ways and break a lot of old ingrained misconceptions (material items equals safety and security, unhealthy emotional attachment to objects, etc.) to declutter my life. I feel so much better now, too.

Anyway, thanks.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 2:26PM
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Thought about this post this morning. I have been looking at my dirty/sticky miniblinds on my bathroom window for months. (I could have said days or weeks but it's been MONTHS! LOL) Today, I grabbed them down, sprayed them with cleaner in the bathtub, rinsed them off and hung them up to dry. Now, hard was THAT!? LOL

If I would do things like that without even thinking twice about it, I sure would get more things done!

Just a thought....

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 2:37PM
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I have so many problems with time. I'll spend hours "worrying" about emptying the (clean) dishwasher. Then one day I timed myself and it took less than 3 minutes. Heck, I thought it took at least ten minutes. Then there's my bad procrastination. I let little things build up till they're almost overwhelming. I wait to the last minute to do my taxes. My problems are all with (in) my mind.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 8:30AM
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Thanks to all who posted. Interesting reading. I have problems with clutter too. Sometimes it's because I work full-time and let things pile up to deal with later, then feel too overwhelmed to take care of them. Perhaps even more often, there's things I'd rather spend my limited free time doing.
Thanks to all the retirees who posted about how they are enjoying their lives now. Gives me hope that I will be able to at that age also. So often I hear the downside of being retired, such as poor health, lack of enjoyable activities & friends, stale marriages, etc. Nice to think maybe it's not all downhill : ) Especially encouraging since I don't like my job and would like to retire now, although I'm way too young! HOpe when I can retire life will be good. Who knows, maybe I'll even keep up with the hosuework.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 1:03PM
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When I feel overwhelmed with reorganizing or even cleaning up the house, I write my to do list. Next to each item I mark how much time I think it will take me. I then add up the time it should take to do the chores per room. Somehow, it feels much more manageable.

I've lived in this place almost a year and I refused to organize a corner in my bedroom that I felt was way too hard to do. I just looked at it everyday which made me feel worse. I finally tackled it about a month ago and it took less than 2 hours. It's amazing how tasks can become so much worse in our minds than the actual labor. But to stress over something that could have been done last year showed me how it doesn't pay to put off something just because it seems impossible to do. That's when I started using my above method of estimating how long a task should take.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 4:42PM
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