Repercussions of uncluttering and organizing

We often talk about the benefits of uncluttering and organizing, but we rarely even hint of their being downsides. Today, I thought we’d break that trend and discuss all the work, headaches, stress, and additional responsibilities that — at least in the short term — uncluttering and organizing create.

  • Physical reactions to dust, dander, and whatever else you might stir up during the process. If you have pets (or pests), multiply this reaction by 100. Sometimes, you can take an over-the-counter allergy medicine mid-way through your uncluttering endeavor and wake up the next morning with no signs of a minor allergic reaction. However, if it’s been awhile since you’ve seen the floor under your bed, you may want to don a silly looking surgical mask while you work and avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • Muscle soreness from bending, reaching, scrubbing, lifting, and carrying. For this I recommend a warm soaking bath and a good night’s rest. If you have a massage therapist, maybe you schedule a massage for the next day?
  • Cuts, bruises, chipped fingernails and other minor injuries are common. Keep a small first-aid kit nearby to disinfect and bandage up any small scrapes you garner along the way.
  • Necessary trips to Goodwill or your favorite local charity. If you already have a lot of things on your to-do list, it might be stressful to schedule in a trip to your favorite donation destination. Before starting your uncluttering project, jump online and research when the charity accepts donations, what kinds of things they accept, and learn if they do home pick ups — you might not need to drive to the charity, after all.
  • A journey to the recycling center or your county dump. Similar to an errand to a charity, you might need to make a stop at your recycling center or a large drop off at your county dump. Similar to my recommendation above, jump online and see where, when, and how to make deliveries. Also check to see if you can pay a few bucks and have the county or 1-800-Got-Junk pick up at your home.
  • Discover more things you need to do. Inevitably, my to-do list increases while I’m uncluttering and organizing. I’ll find a scratch on the wall that needs some touch-up painting or objects that need returning to their owners. It can feel like Sisyphus has his hand in your uncluttering projects, and, to be honest, I don’t know how to keep this one from happening. I think it’s called “life.”
  • Speaking of life, sometimes uncluttering dredges up the past — and not in a joyful, fun, nostalgic way. During a recent uncluttering project, I discovered a beautiful copy of Jane Eyre a student gave to me one year for Christmas back when I was teaching. A couple years ago, the student passed away, and seeing the book stirred up a lot of sadness.
  • Too many cooks in the kitchen. As much as I recommend having buddies to work with during any uncluttering project (they’re great for motivation, inspiration, and an extra pair of hands), sometimes there can be too many people involved. If you have very young children, now is the time to call in a favor from a friend or family member and have her babysit.
  • Specifically in a work environment, your colleagues might not look fondly on you taking part of a day away from your other work to focus on improving your office. If this is the case, it likely means the best time to focus on these beneficial activities is not during regular business hours.

What downsides have you discovered to the uncluttering and organizing processes? How have you moved past or solved these problems so you can go back to enjoying the benefits of all your hard work? Share your experiences with us in the comments.

53 Comments for “Repercussions of uncluttering and organizing”

  1. posted by heatherK on

    @WilliamB: Yes, you hit the nail on the head regarding the possibility of resentment.

    Am I the only one who things a downside of decluttering is regret? I’ve gotten rid of things, thinking it was for the best (never will use it; it’s been sitting around for far too long; etc), but then later regretting it because I realized it actually *was* important to me (sentimental item), I discovered a need/use for it, or someone I know could have legitimately used it. And for the things I don’t care to have back, I wished that at the very least I would have known to photograph them and make a list of what I got rid of so that in the future, I don’t go crazy looking for something I got rid of.

    My mind gets so entrenched in the decluttering mode that I don’t think of these things until way too late.

  2. posted by Ange on

    I’m going to wholeheartedly echo the bandages. Every single time I’ve decluttered, I’ve nicked some part of my hand. (Yesterday, cleaning out the supply closet at my work; two days ago, cleaning out the laundry room shelf…)

    Also, arnica cream works well if you bruise easily like some people who can’t not run into things or smash their shins on open doors.

    Not a klutz, just a declutterer!

  3. posted by Dia on

    I like Alix’s ‘archeological dig!’ & like JustGail, I often find my energy fizzles before the project is over! As a kid, I’d clear my bedroom out into the hallway – then . . . . but would have to get it back in my room before my dad got home from work!
    Now I try to do ‘bite size’ pieces, & not get ahead of myself! A timer works well – I like some of the ideas on ‘fly-lady’ – set the timer in 15 minute increments, & give yourself breaks ~ every hour; only get out what you can put away in the time frame . . .

    I’m a Virgo, & recall reading that one of the problems we can have with organizing/neatness is perfectionism – if it’s not PERFECT it begins to frustrate us, so ‘why bother,’ …. & I often feel ‘but I just cleaned/washed/straightened that – & it needs to be done AGAIN??’

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