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The Relationship Between Happiness, Procrastination and Clutter

  • January 3, 2019 6:36 PM EST

    “Too much stuff.” Have you ever been called out as one who has a clutter problem? If you have an overabundance of possessions in the home or work environment, they may very well be contributing to your stress level and negatively impacting your sense of well-being. Think … stacks of papers, magazines or journals, things to file away, “keepsakes” for the sake of not wanting to part with …

    Mental health professionals studied and recently reported [1] on the relationship between the inability to make decisions (procrastination) and the inability to “part with things.” Perhaps not surprising, they found that there is a direct relationship. The process of going through “stuff” is generally unpleasant and, as such, many people avoid doing it … thus leading to procrastination. Another finding of this study was that a problem with clutter was significantly associated with a decrease in satisfaction with life among adults. It has been previously demonstrated that people living in cluttered environments have increases in circulating cortisol (stress hormone) levels, which is also known to be associated with a variety of diseases and health problems.

    A tendency to procrastinate may enable those who have a hard time parting with things. What to do? How to overcome? Some people can gain control of that “over-attachment” to things on their own and others may need a little bit of help. As was suggested in an article in the New York Times, if you can’t do it on your own you may need the help of a neutral party. Someone who can come in and help in the process of identifying what you can or cannot part with - providing a "hands off" approach to the one who struggles with letting go.

    If you've struggled with clutter ... what's worked for you?


    [1] Ferrari, J.R., Roster, C.A. Delaying Disposing: Examining the Relationship between Procrastination and Clutter across Generations. Curr Psychol 37, 426–431 (2018).