Can a person clutter up his time by constantly uncluttering?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

And yes, the answer, the short one, is yes he or she can.

In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was an arrogant and deceitful man who tricked the gods. Displeased at being duped, the gods sentenced him to spend eternity pushing an enormous boulder up a hill. He pushes it most of the way up the hill, then the boulder rolls back down to the bottom of the hill, and he has to do it all over again and again and again and again. Every minute of every day, Sisyphus pushes the boulder up the hill, only to watch it roll back down.

In the study of economics, the “law of diminishing returns” similarly explains that there is a point where increased production will actually create reduced benefits. Imagine that I give you a cookie. You eat the cookie, and it tastes amazing. You love that I gave you a cookie. So, I hand you another and another and another, and you eat them all. By the time I’m handing you a tenth cookie, you don’t want to eat cookies any more. You feel nauseated. The idea of eating another cookie disgusts you. There isn’t anything different about the tenth cookie from the first, except that you passed the point of marginal benefit. Eating cookies is now creating bad responses. You were much happier having eaten just one or two cookies than you were eating ten.

Sisyphus and the economic law of diminishing returns both speak to the question asked in the headline of this post. “Can a person clutter up his time by constantly uncluttering?”

Without a doubt, the answer to that question is “yes.”

When you choose to clear the clutter and organize your home and work lives, you should be doing it so that you can focus on what really matters. Organizing and decluttering are processes that help you to reach more important goals. They are the means, not the end. Whether your goals are to have more quality time with your children or provide better services to your clients or to have a stress-free vacation, being organized helps you do those things more easily and with less anxiety.

There is a point where you can derive the greatest amount of benefit from your decluttering and organizing endeavors. That point will be different for every person, so don’t judge yourself based on others or judge others based on your returns. Find that perfect point for you, where you get the greatest returns from your decluttering and organizing efforts, and embrace and sustain it. Don’t organize for the sake of organizing — organize for the purpose of living of a remarkable life.

The other thing to consider also, so I have found, is that what you have regarded as clutter and thrown a fortnight ago only to find then that you need it.

So, as far as I am concerned, I approach decluttering with great caution and much consideration. And while it is good to have some space in the house or office to find that you have thrown something away as “clutter” just because you have not needed it for the last the gods only know how many months or even years only to find that now you need it and have to go out and buy it.

Decluttering on occasions is good but do approach it with caution and do not let your life be ruled by decluttering and the thought of it.

© 2009