Cops raid clutter home

Crazy eBay MomHere’s someone who should read Unclutterer. From the Dayton Daily News:

The Miami County Health Department next week plans to inspect the inside of a house that a police officer said was so full of boxes, paper and debris that he had to, at times, walk sideways to get through rooms and up a stairway.

“Words alone cannot fully describe the appearance of the inside of the residence,” Ptlm. Joel Misirian wrote in a police report after being in the house earlier this week. He said there was “complete clutter” that went from the floor to about halfway up walls toward the estimated 10-foot ceilings.

The officer was at the house to serve a warrant on the owner for allegedly failing to show up for a hearing on a city property maintenance charge filed last year in Miami County Municipal.

Not surprisingly, the case was referred to the health department. This reminds me of the Crazy eBay Mom story that floated around a few years ago. A guy gives a tour of his eBay obsessed packrat mother’s home with photos and a narrative. If you haven’t seen it before, you have to take a look. It’s not so much funny as shocking. This kind of clutter doesn’t need an organizer, it needs a shrink. But to be fair, those of us who get hives looking at these pictures probably also need a shrink.

Is clutter not all that bad?

If you’re looking for a justification for your clutter rather than a solution, might I suggest the new book by Eric Abrahamson and David Freedman, A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder–How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and On-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place. In it the authors contend that challenge “the accepted wisdom that tight schedules, neatness, and consistency are the keys to success.” They cite, for example, the success of Arnold Swartzenneger, who refuses to make appointments and just sees people whenever he needs to. Their concerns are that time spent getting organized is tie not spent being creative, and that over-organized people and organizations can close themselves off to random influences that might spur innovation.

In an article about the book, Freedman says that piles serve as an organic form of filing. “The top of the pile are newer papers and the bottom are older,” he said. Sure, but how much of the stuff in the middle is garbage? He also said that “Someone that keeps a neat desk spends more time filing papers that can be ignored,” he said. That’s why the most-used file in any system should be the circular one.

It’s true that too much focus on the process of organization will nullify any possible gain in peace of mind or productivity. The trick is to adopt a set of systems that become second nature and keep you organized. While too much rigidity in any system can make it brittle, I find it hard to believe that clutter is too useful. Sure, some year-old document on your desk that you find while digging through a pile for something else might spark a new idea, but how much time over the course of a year do you waste sifting through piles?