My college roommate had a poster hanging on our dorm wall that read, “Procrastination enhances the imagination.” I discovered during college that procrastination may lead to last minute panic and creativity, but it certainly does not enhance the grade point average.
According to a recent study by Joseph Ferrari of DePaul University and Catherine Roster of the University of New Mexico, there are links between procrastination and clutter. Procrastination is defined as the “voluntary delay of an intended course of action despite negative consequences.” It is a behavior that can lead to dysfunctional ways of being and reduced quality of life. Chronic procrastination affects up to 25 percent of adults.
One common result of procrastination is clutter. I recently read a definition of clutter as “a delayed decision.” In all reality, as I glance around my office and my home, the things I see lying around or in piles are there because I couldn’t decide where else to put them at the time. I would find the perfect place to put it “later.” Or my bigger issue – all the photos, memorabilia and unfinished projects that I just haven’t got to yet, so they are hidden away in plastic totes stored in my basement.
As we get older, we keep accumulating stuff. I watched a fascinating video by some University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) anthropology researchers. They said that current U.S. households have more possessions per household than any society in global history. They also stated that the U.S. has 3.1 percent of the world’s children but consumes 40 percent of the world’s toys. Think about that the next time you buy a Christmas or birthday present for a grandchild. “The push to become consumers, to value stuff, starts at an early age.”
I don’t have research to back this part up, but I think that in a rural area like ours, we may struggle even more. I know a lot of you reading this have lived in your same home for decades. Maybe only moving once or twice in your life. Moving forces the decision process for keeping many of our possessions. I’ve moved six times since I graduated from college. I feel like I have too much stuff, but I can’t imagine how much I would still have without purging every three to five years.
So how are you doing with clutter? I guess some people actually live like those photos in “Better Homes and Gardens” or on Pinterest. But the rest of us live with clutter. And for many of us, especially women, it affects our quality of life by increasing stress.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota conducted a study and found that people who spent time in an unorganized room were twice as likely to eat a chocolate bar than an apple. An Indiana University study found that tidy homes are more of a predictor for physical health than neighborhood walkability.
There are many strategies out there to conquer clutter. At their basic level most have to do with minimizing and then organizing what we have. I enjoy researching this area of consumer sciences and would love to share some practical tips with you. I’ll be teaching “Declutter Your Life” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. March 23 at the Coshocton Public Library. It is free and open to the public. If clutter is a struggle for you, don’t put off gaining some tools for improving your quality of life.
Today I’ll leave you with this quote from Norman Vincent Peale: “If you put off everything till you’re sure of it, you’ll never get anything done.”