Photo by Salt Water New England

Saturday, January 5, 2019

New York Times: The Unbearable Heaviness of Clutter

In The New York Times:
[C]lutter... might be stressing you out more than you realize....
[A] research team... found a substantial link between procrastination and clutter problems....  Among older adults, clutter problems were also associated with life dissatisfaction. 
-  Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi <>


  1. Put away. Throw away. Give away. Sell. Then take a nap.

  2. I'm part of the generation whose parents and other relatives lived through the Great Depression. For them, even buying new shoestrings was something to be avoided if possible. They tended not to throw things away but they did not live in cluttered houses because they simply did not accumulate a lot of possessions. Besides, basic possessions, like clothing, were seen as relatively expensive. My impression, however, was that most of them (my parent's and grandparent's generations) had begun to feel fairly happy with their circumstances through the prosperous and stable 1950s. In any case, they had no clutter problems. But these impressions are based entirely on my own experiences and of what I saw.

  3. Although I try very hard to keep "stuff" to a minimum, I haven't mastered that art yet. Clutter is worse after Christmas when you get all the "stuff" that you didn't want, didn't ask for and wind up trying to return on the QT or give away or just shove in a drawer. It was worse when my kids where little and well meaning relatives showered them with so many gifts (brought in by the plastic bag full). When I was younger, I had more energy for garage sales. Recently though the prospect of clearing out the attic overwhelmed me so I took all the recycling out and recycled it. Then I gave away some of the stuff to the local thrift store. And then I called a removal company to get rid of the rest. That cost good money. But I no longer feel like my attic will collapse from all the junk up there. Next thing -- avoid estate sales, garage sales, jumble sales, Ebay, etc. And if I am absolutely compelled to buy something, I must get rid of something else FIRST. Should have made that my New Years Eve resolution!

  4. As someone who grew up with very little, I developed the urge to consume almost immediately after starting my first job out of college on Wall Street. Wait, you mean I can actually afford to buy an iPod without guilt? Yes please! Though I didn't spend nearly as much as my peers, I still wound up accumulating things (mostly clothing) that I'm currently in the process of unwinding. When I moved into my new home, I discovered that I actually owned four (4!) Patagonia zip up fleeces. Though different, sure, I couldn't possibly wear all 4 at the same time, and having that many was just wasteful. Through a combination of eBay and charity, I've found great success in reducing possessions while increasing happiness and clarity.

    For those interested in a method to assess what to keep and not, specifically with regards to clothing, the Wall Street Journal just published a wonderful article the other day (1/4/19) by Jacob Gallagher entitled "The Case for Buying Less Clothing" that also includes a quirky, but helpful schematic on how to do just that.

    1. I read that article in the WSJ. It was a good one.


  5. Um, "older adults" in their 50s? Thanks, NYT.

  6. My mother was a champion "collector" of "things." She died 9/2017 and we still haven't cleaned out her home. It exists as it was for the past 52 years: lights, water, electric, etc., all still active, and an active flurry of life from my brother and his family next door. Lots of valuable family heirlooms, lots of other stuff. --Holly in PA

  7. It was a family event when the house where my wife's parents had lived for 30 years was cleaned out. Everything was either parceled out to one of the children or grandchildren, donated or burned. There was plenty to go around with stuff left over, although one of the children was about to move overseas and refused to take anything. Yet the house was not the least bit cluttered. But there were sheds packed with things, some interesting (a Corvair and a 1929 Ford that belonged to my wife's grandfather, his only car). Ten years later, we're trying to get rid of some of the same stuff. Things come out of one attic and go into another attic.