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The Hidden Costs of Disorganization

As Published In Smead Organomics
The Hidden Costs of Disorganization

Publicity -- Smead Organomics

We’ve all heard that disorganization is “bad” — but do you actually know why? It’s because of the negative impact chaos and clutter have on your quality of life. Have you ever calculated the price of disorganization? You might be surprised at some of the unexpected drawbacks associated with too much stuff, too much stress, and not enough time.

Calculate The Financial Cost

For starters, disorganization is an insidious (and often largely overlooked) drain on your wallet. You may not think of clutter that way, but it’s a pretty simple equation — the more disorganized you are, the more money you are likely losing. The money leak usually happens in little dribbles, a few dollars here, a few dollars there — but over time it becomes a raging flood that sweeps you away.

  • You can’t find your electric bill to pay it until a week after the due date — welcome to a completely unnecessary and totally preventable 18% finance charge.
  • You throw your mail in a pile unopened on the desk and an important professional conference registration deadline passes you by — you get hit with a $50 late fee.
  • You shove your bank statements into a drawer without looking at them and overlook a serious error in your last deposit (until it’s too late to fix it) — an unexpected $100 lost.

Reclaim Your Wasted Space

How much of your home/office is taken up with stuff you never use and couldn’t care less about? Worse yet, are you paying storage unit fees to house a bunch of junk that never sees the light of day and that serves no purpose in your life? Please, help me understand this!

It’s also been said that modern humans are bombarded with more information in a single day than medieval peasants processed in a year’s time. And most of it comes in the form of paper! Things have gotten so overwhelming that many people pay the “document storage” industry thousands of dollars a year to babysit boxes of files they never use — we’ve got a serious paper clutter epidemic! You need a good system for staying on top of it all (read that as “throwing away or recycling the 90% that’s junk, and filing the 10% that matters”) — otherwise, even the valuable documents become a disorganized mess.

Plug Any Drains On Your Time

Clutter can also be found in your schedule. If any of the following apply to you, you need to re-evaluate how you’re managing time:

  • You always run late, no matter how hard you try to get out of the house on schedule.
  • You go at least 90 miles an hour every day, but never seem to get caught up.
  • Time-wasters like procrastination and interruptions keep you from completing projects.
  • You can’t focus on your real priorities because your to-do list is always full of busy work.

It’s time to get off the disorganization treadmill!

Stop Wasting Emotional Energy

Stress is directly related to disorganization. Have you ever had your entire day spin out of control because you ran late, missed a deadline, or spent 20 minutes searching for your car keys? Mood, relationships, anger levels, and productivity are greatly affected by how smoothly all those little seemingly-insignificant moments go — the sum is greater than its parts, and tiny improvements can lead to big changes.

And how do you feel when you come across a misplaced, consequence-laden document that you should have acted upon months ago? Guilty? Stupid? Remorseful? We’ve gotten really good at beating ourselves up (mercilessly and repeatedly) over being disorganized. And even if you’ve learned to forgive your mistakes, it’s downright depressing to see nothing but piles and stacks around you — the mental toll is just as great as the more tangible costs of disorganization.

Decide To Be Organized

Once you realize how much disorganization is costing, you have a REASON to want to change. Keep the vision of a clutter-free and chaos-free life in front of you for motivation as you move forward with your organizing efforts. It’s never too late to stop being disorganized!

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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

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