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How Much Is Disorganization Costing You?

It’s deeply ironic, considering how passionately I despised that godforsaken “Measurement/Statistics” class in college (alongside the fact that my answer for “what is one plus one?” comes out right only about half the time) — but I’m a lover of numbers. Analytical findings, deductive inference, inductive reasoning, and the sociological implications that accompany the whole lot absolutely freaking fascinate me!

The Cold Hard Truth

Educate me about how much an odor weighs (760 nanograms) or the number of different ways to play the first ten moves of any chess game (169,518,829,100,544,000,000,000,000,000) — I’m in heaven.

Gimme a probability matrix outlining the odds of being killed by falling out of bed (one in two million) or point out how much more likely you are to be hit by a world-ending asteroid than bombed by a terrorist (1,860 times) — I’ll walk around smiling for a week.

And oh-my-yes-please-tell-me how badly obese people outweigh (sorry, couldn’t help myself) the malnourished on this planet (almost two-to-one) or present me with a mathematical formula to predict how likely a serial killer is to take a life at any given moment (it’s called “the devil’s staircase”) — I’m a happy mother-flippin’ camper!

I also adore stats about clutter and chaos — the more dire-and-outlandish-yet-true, the better. (Whatever it takes to scare the bejezus out of my clients and get them moving in a positive direction!) Here are a  few of my faves (compiled from mainstream media sources, NAPO studies, and census data):

  • from womb to tomb, the typical homo sapien receives 49,060 pieces of mail, one-third of which is junk — that individual also discards 4,583 pounds of books/magazines annually (you could build a twelve-foot-high coast-to-coast wall with all the paper thrown away between January and December)
  • we each spend one full year of our lives looking for misplaced items (nine million hours per day as a country) — and every misfiled document costs between $61 and $122 (figuring in personpower spent searching, then all that’s involved with recreating the damned thing once it’s deemed terminally lost)
  • each average office worker uses 200 pounds of paper per year (45 new sheets a day, half of which is immediately pitched out) — each household creates two tons of trash a year (4.4 pounds per-being-per-day, that’s 300 laps around the equator with just the disposable eatingware we throw out)
  • humanity as a whole pisses away the equivalent of 79,000,000 years on FB time-wasteage each month (well done, Zuckerberg) — and the National Soap/Detergent Association (who knew there even was such a thing?) says that clearing excess clutter would eliminate 40% of housework

I could go all night — but I want to focus on how much those stacks and piles cost you. The Wall Street Journal has decided that each common somebody loses an hour a day to disorganization, more than two weeks per year! Considering how much your time is worth, what does that add up to? Wait — do you even know what an hour of your time is worth? That’s okay — I’m not so good at math myself. Lemme help:

Your Gross Annual Income (ex: 12500)
Average # Of Hours You Work Each Day
# Of Hours You Lose To Disorganization Each Day

And that, my little nastywoman or badhombre, doesn’t even take into account all the other ways that disorder drains your wallet — late fees and interest charges because you blew right past that bill’s due date, missing out on the “early bird” pricing for a conference/event because you registered at the last minute, errors on your bank statement that got overlooked in the absence of a monthly bookkeeping routine. All those little dribbly money leaks become a flood that will eventually drown you. But good news — the tide’s reversible! The more organized you get, the more money you are guaranteed to save.

Imma leave you with one more largely disheartening fact (because I like to end things on an upbeat note). A full 53% of Americans “think less of” those with messy homes and desks — while somewhere between 73% and 91% of folks (depending on the survey) admit that they need to improve their organizational skills. That says a whole lot of something not very good about our society right now.

Moral of the story? Set yourself apart from the cluttered masses — don’t be a statistic!

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"I Have More To Say About This... No Surprise!"

    Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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