Notes on Orderliness


Orderliness might sound both boring and unimportant to you. It seems like merely an aesthetic preference. But would you like to have an extra hour per day? How about an extra year in your life? 

"The average American wastes 55 minutes a day (roughly 12 days a year) looking for things they own but can’t find."  –Newsweek

"Average Americans spend one year of their life looking for lost or misplaced items." –U.S. News and World Report

"The average executive wastes six weeks annually searching for important documents lost in among the clutter." –Wall Street Journal

"Office workers waste an average of 40% of their workday, not because they aren’t smart, but because they were never taught organizing skills to cope with the increasing workloads and demands." –Wall Street Journal Report from this article 

On a related note, orderliness is hard when you simply have too much stuff. 

"Getting rid of clutter would eliminate 40% of the housework in the average home." –National Soap & Detergent Association

"80% of what we keep we never use."  –National Association of Professional Organizers from this article 


If you find organizing and decluttering difficult, you might start with someone else’s step-by-step recommendations. This is an area where, if you just don’t have the aptitude for it, hiring someone who does can be a great investment. Labels can help you and others remember where you’ve decided to keep each item. It’s nearly impossible to stay organized when you have too much stuff. Some good places to start include and It’s a good idea to make de-cluttering part of each step. A fun tip if you’re trying to learn a language: Make bilingual labels for categories or items while organizing. Decluttering is psychologically hard. Let music entertain you during this tedious chore, or team up with a friend to offer support to each other. You can offer each other some perspective on how non-valuable those items are that you have an emotional attachment to.


This site has some excellent tips to get over hoarder tendencies, except the part about garage sales and selling your used stuff online. If you aren’t making a lot of money or have items with high resale value, re-selling might be worth considering. Just make sure to figure out the opportunity cost. If you’re an employee or unemployed, the opportunity cost will simply be what activities you have to give up for the time you’ll spend selling. For the self-employed, the opportunity cost also is the dollar amount you could make during that time. Put that way, reselling your stuff costs you! You could give it to a thrift store and get a receipt to take up to a $500 tax deduction. 

Next, stop using shopping as a pastime. Save your money and buy less. Instead, consider renting or borrowing what you don’t use often. For example, you can rent for the day, week, or season outdoor recreation equipment. You can rent yard and home maintenance items such as clippers and ladders. It may seem that you’re “investing” and saving money by buying, but when you consider storage and maintenance costs, renting often makes more sense. Better yet, you can hire a yard maintenance service or simply xeriscape so you can ignore those chores.

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