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Too Much Stuff - How to Manage the Clutter

Updated on September 11, 2014

Learn more about the Story of Stuff

Most people in America have too much stuff. In our consumer-driven society we are constantly being enticed us to want more. Before long it's all just too much, it is disorganized.

In a survey conducted by the National Association of Professional Organizers 65 percent of respondents noted that their household was at least moderately disorganized.

Having it all is getting to be too much for the average American. Getting organized is often one of the leading New Year's Resolutions. I know this is on my list this year.

January is designated by the NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) "Get Organized Month'" promoting the idea that ousting clutter can free up valuable time and also save money.

Let's find out more about Too Much Clutter, the impact it has on people and ways you can conquer the clutter.

George Carlin Talks About "Stuff"

George Carlin's classic standup routine about the importance in our lives of 'Stuff'. This was from his appearance at Comic Relief in 1986. It does contain a few four letter words, but is a hilarious take on 'stuff'

George Carlin on Stuff (Language Warning)

Balancing the Stuff In vs. the Stuff Out

About the Story of Stuff

The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns, with a special focus on the United States. All the stuff in our lives, beginning from the extraction of the resources to make it, through its production, sale, use and disposal, affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view.

The Story of Stuff - Video

Learn about the Story of Stuff

Reader Feedback on Too Much Stuff

Do you have or we all have too much stuff?

It's All Too Much!

Learning to Live with Less Stuff.

A House Full of Stuff Can Be Depressing

Unless you're extremely organized, a house full of stuff can be very depressing. A cluttered room saps one's spirits. One reason, obviously, is that there's less room for people in a room full of stuff.

But there's more going on than that.

I think humans constantly scan their environment to build a mental model of what's around them. And the harder a scene is to parse, the less energy you have left for conscious thoughts.

A cluttered room is literally exhausting.

Paul Graham

Source: Graham P. July 2007. Stuff. Paul Graham.com

Decluttering Tips from Peter Walsh

It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff on Amazon

It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff
It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff

Veteran "organizational consultant," TV show host and author Walsh (How to Organize (Just About) Everything) has more ideas in his latest book on clutter management than the spare closet has junk, and, even better, it's organized, in-depth and entirely user-friendly.

Walsh is heading up Oprah's Clean Up Your Messy House Tour.

 

Enough Already!: Clearing Mental Clutter in the Amazon Spotlight

Enough Already!: Clearing Mental Clutter to Become the Best You
Enough Already!: Clearing Mental Clutter to Become the Best You

Oprah's decluttering guru Peter Walsh on ways to clear the clutter.

 

We are addicted to buying new stuff

We are painfully addicted to buying new stuff. And with each new purchase we consume more non-renewable resources, pollute the planet, and create lots of garbage.

Jeffrey Hollender

Source: Hollender J. June 2008. Too Much Stuff. The Inspired Protagonist on Seventh Generation.

Too Much Stuff in the Amazon Spotlight

Too Much Stuff: De-Cluttering Your Heart and Home
Too Much Stuff: De-Cluttering Your Heart and Home

Our consumer-driven society is constantly enticing us to want more, and before we know it--it’s just too much!

In Too Much Stuff , author Kathryn Porter challenges us to dig into the clutter of our homes and attack the attitudes and behaviors that allow this chaos to immobilize us by giving practical steps on how to de-clutter our homes.

 

We spend time instead of passing the time

We have impoverished our human communities with a form of materialism that leaves us in relative isolation from family, friends, and neighbors. We simply don't have time for them.

Unlike our great-grandparents who passed the time, we spend it.

Jeffrey Kaplan

The Gospel of Consumption

Source: Kaplan J. May/JUne 2008. The Gospel of Consumption. Orion Magazine.

Self-Storage is now a $22 Billion-per-year Industry!

Stuff is Costing Us in Storage Space

Gopal Ahluwalia, director of research for the National Association of Home Builders, says all this stuff is costing us quite a bit in storage alone.

Since 1970, the size of the average house has increased nearly 40%, from about 1,500 square feet to 2,300 -- and that's despite an overall decline in family size.

MP Dunleavey

Source: Dunleavey MP. The hidden costs of too much stuff. MSN Money.

Sorting It Out in the Amazon Spotlight

Sorting It Out: One Disorganized Woman Solves the Problem of Too Much Stuff
Sorting It Out: One Disorganized Woman Solves the Problem of Too Much Stuff

Author Cynthia Friedlob tackles the Stuff Overload issue head-on from a fresh, funny and totally sympathetic point of view. A self-confessed Stuff Sufferer, Cynthia recounts stories of her own frustrating battles with too many possessions.

She offers some down-to-earth advice that will help you relax your grip on possessions that seem to be absolutely indispensable, but are actually heavy burdens that you can choose to unload on your road to Stuff Freedom.

 

Break the cycle and turn off the machines

We can break that cycle by turning off our machines when they have created enough of what we need. Doing so will give us an opportunity to re-create the kind of healthy communities that where human welfare is the overriding concern rather than subservience to machines and those who own them.

We can create a society where people have time to play together as well as work together, time to act politically in their common interests, and time even to argue over what those common interests might be. That fertile mix of human relationships is necessary for healthy human societies, which in turn are necessary for sustaining a healthy planet.

Jeffrey Kaplan

The Gospel of Consumption

Source: Kaplan J. May/JUne 2008. The Gospel of Consumption. Orion Magazine.

Resolve this Year to Clear the Clutter

Time to Make a Resolution to Live with Less Stuff

Getting organized often tops the list of New Year's promises.

In a November survey conducted by NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers), 65 percent of respondents noted that their household was at least moderately disorganized. Ninety-six percent of respondents said they would save time every day if only they were better organized.

Professional organizers say the key is to pick a project, start small and to start today.

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest

Source: Jones-Bonbrest N. December 2008. New year in, clutter out. Baltimore Sun.

New Year's Resolves for Organizing Your Home

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest of the Baltimore Sun offers some helpful suggestions, resolutions for getting started ushering in the New Year by ushering out clutter.

Source: Jones-Bonbrest N. December 2008. New year in, clutter out. Baltimore Sun.

  1. Resolve to start off small.

    Cleaning up the junk drawer seems like a reasonable task.

  2. Resolve to deal with mail, children's school papers and important documents.

    Set up a paper-flow and filing system to manage incoming papers. A transitional spot - possibly located in the kitchen - can serve as a "command center," keeping important papers within easy reach and keeping the clutter controlled.

  3. Resolve to sort, purge and donate any items you don't use.

    Those you must keep should be labeled and stored away, using clear storage bins or a color-coded storage system.

  4. Resolve to find storage space.

    Use the backs of doors and space under beds, or install shelves, hooks and pegboards.

  5. Resolve to use the garage.

    It's a great spot to store seasonal items and outdoor equipment. Get things off the floor and go vertical when it comes to finding space here.

  6. Resolve to finally organize your photographs.

    Start with the newest photos and work backward. If sorting photos into albums seems too daunting, get archival, acid-free photo-storage boxes and put your pictures in them.

Remember

A cluttered room is

literally exhausting.

Stuff is even a problem in China

Mention of Chinese city kids today often conjures up an image of kids who are over-indulged, materially well off and spoiled for choices in unlimited fun.

There has been little realization of children as victims: their needs as children chronically slighted, their value as consumers overexploited, and their worth solely gauged in terms of their similarity to adults.

The relative ease of satisfying their material needs contrasts sharply with the near-impossibility of ministering to their natural spiritual needs as children.

Wan Lixin

Source: Lixin W. December 2008. Sad side of 'good' childhood: Too much stuff, too few values. Shanghai Daily News.

Even Museums have Problems with Too Much Stuff

Too Much Stuff? was published by the National Museum Directors' Conference in 2003. The resource is intended as a contribution to the important, but often muted, debate on disposals from museum collections.

The paper, produced by an NMDC working group and approved by NMDC directors as a whole, asks difficult questions. How do museums justify retaining collections which are not well used or even well cared for? Is it really always wrong, as the current Museum Association Code of Ethics suggests, "to undertake disposal principally for financial reasons"?

You can download the PDF File from the National Museum website.

Source: Too Much Stuff? Disposal from Museums National Museums.

© 2008 Kirsti A. Dyer

Reader Feedback on the Too Much Stuff Lens - Thoughts...Stories...Comments...Suggestions

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    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      @Ahdilarum: Hopefully not too much content.

    • Ahdilarum profile image

      Ahdilarum 

      6 years ago

      Great lens with lot of contents..

    • magictricksdotcom profile image

      magictricksdotcom 

      6 years ago

      Couldn't agree more. WE declutter twice a year. It's amazing how much stuff still gets into our lives, even when we try to be mindful. We are such a spoiled society.

    • profile image

      grannysage 

      6 years ago

      I finally won the battle of too much stuff when we moved into our RV. We literally gave away everything but the basics including my fairy and gnome collection. There were boxes that hadn't been opened in five years. It is such a relief not to be owned by stuff any more.

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 

      6 years ago

      We did a major spring cleaning a few years back and got rid of stuff that had been stored in the garage and in the backyard for centuries. LOL

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 

      6 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      This lens is significant, timely and makes an excellent point.

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 

      6 years ago

      I don't have a *lot* of stuff, but it's too much stuff for me. Too much clutter. I bought the book "Clutter Busting" several months ago and it now has become part of the clutter. But I'm *not* going to give up trying to clean up the clutter!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 

      7 years ago

      Great lens. I need reminding again and again. So I'm off to throw away stuff! Thanks

    • Peregrina LM profile image

      Peregrina LM 

      7 years ago

      This lens is a great idea. We definitely have too much stuff. After walking for 2.5 months with only the contents of my backpack, I realized how little we needed ... and then, of course, I got home and largely forgot about it.

    • thesuccess2 profile image

      thesuccess2 

      8 years ago

      It just seems too breed on its own, I'm constantly bringing stuff to charity/thrift shops

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      I have a friend, a neuropsychiatrist who has always lived alone, who has so much stuff he's looking for a bigger house. He can't cook because his kitchen is full of stuff. He has to come to my house to paint because his house is too full of stuff. I have so much stuff in my attic I'm thinking of having a friend help me cut a hole in the wall and throw it down a chute into my truck and take it off to the dump. I look around every day wondering what I can get rid of, but it's hard!

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 

      9 years ago

      Oh its so true. I think most of us have "to much stuff". After reading this I know its time I did some clearing out. Just not enough room to put "stuff".

      Thanks for the interesting and thought provoking lens.

    • Demaw profile image

      Demaw 

      9 years ago

      I have to designate certain space for certain items, If that area gets full something has to go, not just moved somewhere.I have finite space so I can't keep everything. Nice lens.

    • blue22d profile image

      blue22d 

      9 years ago

      Once again, excellent lens. ***** and lensroll and favorite. THANK YOU.

    • Nochipra profile image

      Nochipra 

      9 years ago

      Cool Lens! Love George Carlin's stuff routine:)

    • profile image

      dannystaple 

      9 years ago

      I used to have major "too much stuff" problems. But now, with baby on the way, I was forced to have a big clear out. I have found a few tools to organise things. One of them helps me to deal with those "someday maybe" situations and equally organise my time - How To Use Thinking Rock to organise your thoughts.

      I also found that fitted furniture really helps with stuff storage.

    • profile image

      dannystaple 

      9 years ago

      I used to have major "too much stuff" problems. But now, with baby on the way, I was forced to have a big clear out. I have found a few tools to organise things. One of them helps me to deal with those "someday maybe" situations and equally organise my time - How To Use Thinking Rock to organise your thoughts.

      I also found that fitted furniture really helps with stuff storage.

    • profile image

      seedplanter 

      9 years ago

      What a timely lens. Wish I'd found it sooner!

      HAPPY BIRTHDAY, too, by the way.

      I'm looking forward to reading the PDF from the National Museum. Thx for including that.

      5*'s!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      9 years ago from Arkansas USA

      This is definitely a hot topic, great idea for a lens and very well done! SquidAngel blessings for the lens and a Happy Birthday wish for you, Kirsti!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      Happy Birthday! Great lens :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      Happy Birthday! Our culture is far too materialistic --time to do something about it! 5*

    • chefkeem profile image

      Achim Thiemermann 

      9 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Ooops - this lens was written for me! Thanks for listing the many good reasons to finally tackle my stuff and throw away all the junk I'll never use again. 5*s and a blessing! :)

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