The Mess Doctor


by Barbara Ricketts, a.k.a. “The Mess Doctor”

How many times last year did you say that while looking for something important? With the New Year here, wouldn’t you like to start doing things differently? “Getting organized” has consistently been among the top three New Year’s Resolutions because clutter and chaos affects us both physically and mentally. We all seek balance and control in our busy lives and our clutter saps us of energy, causing undue stress and creating feelings of being overwhelmed.

There are also “hidden” costs of clutter: that bigger house to store more stuff costs more in heating/cooling bills, general upkeep, bigger mortgages and higher taxes. Then there’s the cost of time spent procuring, using and maintaining this extra “stuff”, not to mention using up valuable space for storage.
Research shows that:

1. The average person has more than 3,000 documents at home
2. 80% of what we keep we don’t use
3. Too much “stuff” in the average American’s home creates an estimated 40% more housework

The fact is, we often don’t do a good job distinguishing between what we “need” and what we “want.” We have a perceived standard of living that we strive to achieve, despite the monetary and hidden costs. Today, in the name of immediate gratification, there is in excess of 100 times more “stuff” available to buy than there was just 10 years ago.

It’s easy now to understand why “getting organized” is always on the resolution list. But the key question is: “How do I organize my life/stuff without going crazy and giving up?” The answer is, to take one small step that can change your whole life:

Start by altering your mindset about everything you buy from today forward. You must first stop that flood of incoming “stuff” before you can tackle what you already have. Before any purchase ask yourself:

1. Is this necessary? Do I “need it” or just “want it”?
2. What is this item “really” costing me?
3. Can I afford it (financially, emotionally, mentally)?

Work on this first step for at least a month. After reducing the incoming flood to a trickle, you can then start working on moving out the clutter you already have.

Barbara Ricketts is a member of The National Association of Professional Organizers. If you need professional assistance to get organized, contact her at or call 661-433-7263.

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