[2.5 Minute Read or Listen Below]
Let's listen in on a quick conversation between a man and a woman. As the woman pulls items from their bedroom closet, the man lies on the bed looking at a magazine.
Woman - "..., I cannot do this job without you. Most of these things are yours."
Man - "Well, honey, why don't you leave all that junk in the closet?"
Woman - "Because that's just it. Most of it's junk, and we need the closet space."
Man - "Well, then just dump it all."
Woman - "Well, honey. Some of this stuff you might want to keep."
Man - "Honey, you're the keeper. I'm the thrower, remember? Dump it all out."
Woman - "All of it?"
Man - "Yeah. Dump it all."
Woman - "Okay, you're the boss. We'll start with this."
Man - "Hey, wait a minute, you're not throwing away my..."
Any two people could have had this conversation today. This one happened on television between Rob and Laura Petrie in the opening scene of The Dick Van Dyke Show episode, "Oh How We Met the Night That We Danced," released October 31, 1961.
Sixty-one years ago, their master closet was much smaller than present-day master closets. Yet self-storage is currently a $40-billion industry to supplement our bursting attics, basements, closets, and garages.
According to May 2022 research by Neighbor.com, there are 1.7 billion square feet of self-storage available in the US, with people paying about $89/month for an average duration of 14 months.
Plus, Rob and Laura Petrie didn't have to manage email, computer files, digital photos, and cloud storage. Statista finds that 71% of Americans use cloud storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and iCloud.
Where am I going with this?
We often talk about the accumulation of 'stuff' like it's new. But it isn't. Organizing and productivity icon Barbara Hemphill says, "Clutter is postponed decisions." And we've been postponing decisions as long as there have been places to store clutter.
Based on our usage of supplemental storage, it's undeniable that many of us have more stuff than we can handle. The irony is that we don't use or need most of it. But spending additional money on storage appears more palatable than deciding what to eliminate.
While I do acknowledge that temporary extra storage is sometimes needed, the hard, cold fact is that maintaining what we keep is an ongoing necessity. I'm not implying that everyone should go uber-minimalist. But it may serve us to prioritize just a little time regularly to maintain what we have.
We allocate time for laundry, haircuts, car maintenance, and taxes. Incorporating small increments of time for clutter maintenance may be more realistic for our busy lives than waiting until we have an entire day to do something. And let's face it, we'll likely get bored or distracted shortly into the project anyway.
Give it a try, and see what works. Here are some suggestions.
As we dedicate these blocks of focused time, we may even start to keep less in the first place, reducing the time needed for ongoing maintenance even further. What a beautiful reality that would be.