The Hidden Costs of Clutter

You know (you might even be) the type: “I know it looks messy, but I know where everything is!” There are those whose desks and workspaces look almost vacant - like no one could possibly work there because every surface is bare. Then there are those who thrive on being surrounded by stacks and piles and overflowing inboxes and, well, clutter. Interestingly, sometimes the cluttered office people are sticklers for neat living spaces and spotless cars, and sometimes the desktop neatniks hide their disarray in boxes and baskets and drawers.

Chances are you can relate to the clutter workstyle/lifestyle because either it defines you or it applies to someone you work with or maybe even someone you love. We’re wondering how clutter affects our work-life balance. Do the piles and stacks make us feel more balanced, or does the time spent creating, searching through, reorganizing, and balancing the piles do more harm than good? This month’s contribution from Work-Life Balance Expert Jeff Davidson provides an overview of the role clutter plays in our lives.

3.2 hours of an 8 hour workday are wasted by office workers.
Wall Street Journal Report

On average, office workers annually use ten thousand sheets of copy paper: 40 sheets per workday.

49,060 pieces of mail received during an average American's lifetime, roughly 2 per delivery day for 74 years
National Association of Professional Organizers

One tree could be saved by recycling a stack of papers 3 feet high.

150 hours per year are wasted by the typical business executive while seeking lost files or information.
Forbes, ASAP

The average person spends 1 solid year of his life looking for lost items.
National Association of Professional Organizers

EIGHTY PERCENT of clutter in homes is due to disorganization
National Association of Professional Organizers

We rarely use 80% of the files we retain.
Agency Sales Magazine

The average number of times a piece of paper is touched before the recipient acts on it: 30 to 40 times
Woolery, Seize the Day

Removing excess clutter would eliminate 40% of housework in the typical household.
National Soap and Detergent Association

1/3 of all mail received is regarded as junk mail.
National Association ofProfessional Organizers

Twenty-three percent of people say they pay bills late because they lose statements
Harris Interactive Polls

Twenty-five percent of people with 2-car garages use them for other items, not cars.
U.S. Dept. of Energy

A 12 ft. high wall could be built from LA to NYC with the 4 million tons of office paper thrown away yearly.