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zargon10 posted a link over on Facebook to an article about clutter and organization. The general topic was not new to me, I admit to having several books on the subject, as well as an addictive need to watch organizational show reruns on HGTV. What *was* new to me, though, was the columnists' lumping of unfinished tasks and other mental baggage into the category of clutter:

"Clutter doesn't have to be a physical object (like the candle holder you got for your birthday that fits neither next to the television nor with the colors of your living room). Clutter can also take the form of a thank you note that you have meant to write but didn't, a dentist's appointment you know you should make but keep 'forgetting'. Whether it's the physical or incomplete clutter, they both drain your energy: every time you see them and they bother you, every time you think about them being unfinished."

The idea that tasks, sitting around ignored and undone, is draining me of my energy really hit home. I already knew this about physical clutter; when my house starts to tip towards entropy because I am caught up in some project, I find it hard to relax unless I straighten it up. But unfinished tasks, at best, get lumped into a "To do" file on my hard drive until I feel ready to deal with them. Usually, they just get ignored altogether until then.

I don't have a lot of unfinished tasks. I'm usually pretty good about getting to things. But there are a few things, things I either have no clue how to start, or that I simply dread doing, that get put off and off.

Which leads to the issue: I have been struggling with a diagnosed anxiety disorder for well over ten years now, and not only do unfinished tasks "make me tired just thinking of them," I have a tendency to worry about them in a semi-obsessive way that isn't really healthy.

I have been feeling the urge lately to sort through things and clear them out and organize what is left. But I need to do more than that. I realize that another way to deal with my anxiety is to address the tasks it is my tendency to sweep under the carpet and ignore. Because I remember them just fine at 3 a.m.



( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 28th, 2011 11:08 pm (UTC)
It's true that unfinished tasks are draining. I just worry that sometimes I'll start a lot of smaller projects and never quite finish them in order to avoid dealing with larger issues - there's always something else I could be doing. Focus is such an issue for me. I wish you luck with your sorting urge!
Mar. 1st, 2011 02:50 am (UTC)
I find myself sometimes doing unfinished tasks to procrastinate ones I want to do even less. It's useful, sometimes.
Mar. 1st, 2011 12:04 am (UTC)
good luck. i have too much clutter, physical and other wise
Mar. 1st, 2011 02:56 am (UTC)
My bro and SIL's house is full to the rafters with clutter. I guess that comes with the territory of having young children. But eeeyahhh being in their house makes me batty, and it's not cause of the kids.
Mar. 1st, 2011 03:16 am (UTC)
neat uncluttered houses have the same effect on me
Mar. 1st, 2011 03:23 am (UTC)
My house has plenty of interesting knick-knacks and a lived-in look, and plenty of dust bunnies. I just have an aversion to leaving piles of stuff where it doesn't belong for months on end.
Mar. 1st, 2011 01:02 am (UTC)
I either have no clue how to start, or that I simply dread doing, that get put off and off.

This is my issue when I'm not sure how to do something. Spackling a ceiling for instance. Because I worry it won't be done well, and repairing the repair would suck even more. The ceiling is done now, not perfectly, but done.

Items like this go on hold. There are multiple problems around the house and they aren't big enough to try to find a handyman (because I've only heard of really bad ones here), and not small enough not to be bothersome.
Mar. 1st, 2011 03:07 am (UTC)
I wish I had a reliable handyman on call, but the one I was using flaked on me for my last request. I've tried tackling some stuff myself, and managed a so-so job on most of it. But I do procrastinate a long time out of worry I'll not do it well.
Mar. 1st, 2011 01:23 am (UTC)
Not that I consider myself wildly successful, but I honestly think a little clutter is good for the soul. I try to deal with important issues in an orderly fashion, but the rest of life? Who cares, really?

Once my sister walked in on my house here in town when it was more of a mess than usual, bad enough that I wished I'd known she was coming so I could have straightened a little. On seeing the clutter all over the library table her comment was, "It looks like someone was working on a dissertation." I wasn't working on anything nearly so important, but I felt complimented on the energy I put into my projects instead of maintaining a spotless, clutter free home at all times.
Mar. 1st, 2011 03:08 am (UTC)
My house gets a bit cluttered when I'm in the middle of a project. I let things slide. But in general, I like things neat.
Mar. 1st, 2011 05:32 am (UTC)
I think it's true that clutter can be a thing of the mind as well as the outward environment, and perhaps that old saying is true (a cluttered house=a cluttered mind). I do find myself putting things like going to the dentist, getting my mammogram etc off when my life is too hectic for me to cope with anything extra. My home is what I call comfortably cluttered: stuff on the table, books scattered around, cat toys on the floor etc. I feel more comfortable in a place that's not so neat that I'm afraid to sit down in case I mess something up.
Mar. 1st, 2011 01:56 pm (UTC)
I actually like to have a fairly uncluttered environment in order to give my mind the freedom to be extremely cluttered. It's like if what's outside of me is cluttered, I feel too befuddled to give into the chaos of creativity, whereas if things in the world are fairly ordered and predictable, I can feel free to ignore them and turn myself over to what's in my head.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )