Today, I’d like to introduce my NAPO colleague Margaret Lukens, MBA, CPO. Margaret is a productivity trainer and organizing consultant who owns New Leaf + Company LLC for professionals who want to get rid of clutter and have more time in their day. As a NAPO trainer, she teaches a class for professional organizers titled “Eliminating Excess”. The student goals for that class include being able to define “excess,” “clutter,” a “collection,” and “hoarding.”
Her clutter definitions are helpful and I thought I’d share them with you!
In the class Margaret uses 3 definitions of clutter:
- “A crowded or confused mass or collection.“
- “A disorderly heap or assemblage; litter. A state or condition of confusion.” (Random House Dictionary, 2011)
- Barbara Hemphill’s definition as “clutter is postponed decisions.”
The key distinction about clutter included in all 3 definitions is that clutter involves confusion.
No matter how over-full my space may be, if I have no confusion about it, it may be
- excess: “more than is usual, needed, desired, or specified“
but it’s not clutter (according to the definitions above).
So let’s say that I have a big-enough closet, and I have 15 pairs of shoes. If they are all kicked into the back of the closet and covered with cast-off clothes, I may not have excess (15 pairs is on the lower side of average) but I definitely have clutter, as defined as “a confused mass.”
Or say I have everything with a StarWars theme ever made, and it’s causing friction with my spouse because, though it is orderly and completely catalogued and dusted and insured, it has taken over every room in the house. I have a
- collection: “objects gathered for study, comparison, or exhibition, or as a hobby“
and I have excess but no clutter (there is no mass or heap or confusion).
Note that clutter may be physical or mental.
- The solution for excess is to let go of some or create more space.
- The solution for clutter is to end the confusion and replace it with order.
Of course excess and clutter often go together.
Now, what do you have on your hands?
Clutter, a collection, or excess?
Margaret Lukens, MBA, CPO, Productivity trainer and organizing consultant who owns New Leaf + Company LLC for professionals who want to get rid of clutter and have more time in their day