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Are You Suffering From Mid-Life Clutter?

Do you waste a lot of time looking for items that somehow get “misplaced” in your home or office? The following information may help you declutter!

Nashville, Ark. –Do you waste a lot of time looking for items that somehow get “misplaced” in your home or office? Do you feel you do not have enough storage space? Does your lack of organization cause you stress? If so, now is the time to take charge and declutter your environment.  

Many people, as they approach their mid-life years, take stock of where they have been and where the future may lead them. Fifty years or more of living gives people many opportunities to buy and inherit a wide range of stuff!  

            The dictionary defines “clutter” as “to litter or pile in a disordered state”.  Whether piled, jammed into a closet, or spread about on a surface or the floor, research shows disorganization and clutter can cause negative stress. Have you ever felt a release of stress after cleaning the garage or a closet? People who do not accumulate “stuff” lead more simplified lives.

            Clutter can be classified into the following categories:

  • Travel clutter. Do you keep souvenirs of every place you visit? Is it really necessary to keep every item?
  • It-once-was important clutter. Do you have keys, clothes or toys that were part of another period of your life? Some items actually may be obsolete, such as old electronics, VHS camcorders, computer software and old cell phones. Why hang on to them?
  • Inheritance clutter. All of your grandmother’s linens fit this category. Think about this, do your children really want great-grandmother’s stuff? Some may, others will not.
  • Bunny clutter. Some clutter just seems to multiply. Magazines, collections and craft items are a few. Before you know it, they have taken over.
  • Get-to-it-someday clutter. Are you really going to finish all those projects someday?
  • I-might-use-it someday clutter. Do you have garden tools, appliances or furniture stored in the garage that you will use if you have more time or move elsewhere?
  • Memory lane clutter.  Every piece of paper or time has its own story, and you’re not ready to give it up. Is it necessary to keep everything or only the really important ones?
  • Garage sale clutter. Those boxes in the garage are going to be ready when you have another garage sale. Will they be obsolete by the time you get around to having that sale?
  • Valuable clutter. The silver and crystal that were wedding gifts. When was the last time you used any of your sterling silverware when entertaining?
  • To-look-at clutter. All the figurines, collectibles and pretty items that are displayed but need constant dusting cause clutter and eat-up precious time.
  • Mystery clutter. There is a drawer in every home that is full of items or parts from items that no one in the family can identify.

            Disorganization, not lack of space, is the cause of clutter in most homes. Many people do not have a strong skill for organization. In this case, you may need to ask for help from a friend or family member who has the skills to help you get started.

            Organizing and getting rid of things my result in less housework and more time for you and your family which can reduce stress levels as well as improve family communications.

            Keep in mind that life does have a time limit. A sad story is of a woman’s family who, after she died, rented two trash bins and cleared out her entire home in one day. Stuff is valuable to some people only if they can use it. Family members may not place the same value on your stuff as you do partly because they do not have the same emotional “tie” to it.

            To help you get started downsizing or decluttering, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your “stuff” benefit or hinder your quality of life?
  • Will organizing, simplifying or downsizing add time and enjoyment to your life?
  • How much space and what is the value of that space (space equity) needed to store your possession?
  • Can that equity be better spent?

            If you answer “yes” to those questions, it may be time to get organized. Start in one area. Tackle that area before moving on. Consider putting aside those items that you know someone in your family would cherish. Gift the item when family and friends gather for the upcoming holidays. As you get organized, remember to recycle and donate your discarded items. There are many organizations that can benefit from your donations.

            For more information on managing stress or organizing important paperwork, contact the Howard County Cooperative Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. The information for this article was adapted from a similar article from University of Florida Extension.

Recipe of the Week

            Try this tasty side dish with your favorite South-of-the-Border casserole or meal. It is easy to prepare and uses fresh ingredients!

Corn Succotash

1 Tablespoon olive oil

½ red onion, diced

1 bell pepper, seeded and diced

2 cups frozen corn, thawed

1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed

½ teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 lime, juiced

2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro

            Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium, high heat. Add onion, peppers, corn, and seasonings to the skillet and sauté for 3 minutes. Add beans and continue to cook, about 3 more minutes. Add lime juice and remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add chopped cilantro.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition Information: 243 calories, 11 g protein, 42 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat, 364 mg sodium, 11 g fiber

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.