Monday, November 5, 2007

Both Linda and I have trouble with clutter. I tend to exhibit it at my work, while she exhibits it at home.

Her store is clean and spacious and orderly and simplified; mine is packed and narrow and chaotic and complicated.

On the other hand, her home office is overflowing with stacks of books, boxes, and assorted stuff, her desk piled with papers and knickknacks. She always spills over onto the kitchen table, eventually.

Whereas, I periodically clear out my office of as much extra stuff as I can. I try to make is as spare and zen as possible. It's where I go for peace from overstimulation.

We also deal with the clutter differently. I tend to shove things in boxes, and then stack them neatly in the basement or garage. Out of sight out of mind. Even at the store, I tend not to stress about all the stuff in the basement. My attitude is, that's what basements are for.

She tends to try to organize the clutter, try to create systems to deal with it, and to eventually even throw stuff out. I've told her, one of the reasons that the clutter overwhelms her is that she gives stuff "the death penalty" and because of that, she has to be ultra careful not to throw stuff out that she might need later, whereas, I hardly ever throw stuff out, so I'm much more willing to pitch it into a box and forget about it. (I accumulate very few personal things, so this isn't all that big a deal.)

Weirdly enough, I just don't stress about clutter. Life is too short. When it gets to be too much, I just clear it out. I think Linda is trying to get control of life, and organizing is her way of doing it. I figure I'll never gain complete control of my business life, so I might as will go with the flow. Somehow, I always believe the overflow will be taken care of. Everything will sell. All I have to do is wait.

It seems to me that every attempt Linda makes to organize, just adds to the complexity. She has taken to entering all the financial information into her new laptop. "Will that eliminate the original paperwork?" I ask. She say, no, but she wants it organized. I just see that as an extra step. Tossing all my receipts into a box, and then dealing with them the weekend before I see my accountant seems simple to me. She wants to enter all the information into lists and programs and whatnot.

I asked her last night, "If the piles of stuff on your desk and floor are a result of your not having enough time and energy to deal with them as they accumulate, whatever makes you think you can go backward and deal with it later? What about the new stuff coming in? If you take to time to think about each item, to even have a nostalgic reverie about each item, how will you ever catch up?"

She was reading a book about clutter and fung shei, and it said, "Whatever you do, never criticize a clutterer...." or something like that. (When I ask Linda for the book so I could quote the line, she couldn't find it in the piles of books and papers.)

What is the use of all this stuff if you can't access it?

I'm just not as sentimental about the past as she is: of course, she had kids and treasures those memories, she treasures her friends and family. Whereas, I figure what counts is in my mind and heart, and the rest is just stuff. Especially if you've ever had to deal with the estate of parents and realize that almost all of it is tossed eventually. You can't take it with you.

I've gone too far, at times, in my attempt to simplify my office. At one point, I had basically stripped my office of books, and it took a holiday visit to my sister's house, and immersing myself in her den which was lined with books, to realize I needed them.

I would probably furnish the house with very spare, very clean lines furniture, and less of it. She tends to like big stuffed couches and chairs. I've accused her of being very bourgeois, and she accused me of being spartan.

If we could somehow combine our skills: hers at the store, mine at home, we might accomplish something. I volunteered to go into her office and clean it out and she was horrified. I'd have the same reaction if she volunteered to clean out my store.

1 comment:

IHateToBurstYourBubble said...

Read "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. Probably the best part of the book is dealing with clutter.