Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you find some helpful hints for organizing your time and space. My passions are to help you make home a refuge instead of a crisis center, and to help you function in peace rather than chaos - at home or at work. I have switched my main blog to 1-2-3 ... Get Organized on WordPress, so please visit me there.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Scientific Reason for Clutter

Winter has arrived here in Montana! We got several inches of snow over the weekend with highs in the teens. A nice time to stay in and cook my pumpkin and try my hand at some gluten-free recipes: Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Muffins. Happily, they were good! In the process, I made huge messes in my kitchen, which illustrates the topic for today: Entropy, a law of science. Nancy Harris's amusing article describes an experience known to us all.

"It was then, as I struggled to scrub a bathroom only to return to a sink full of dishes in a previously-clean kitchen; or as I folded a pile of laundry and, upon finishing, discovered an open box of cereal dumped across the living room floor, cereal bowls on the counter and a stack of papers scattered across the kitchen table, that I realized just how very relevant entropy was.

You see, entropy has to do with steady deterioration, measures of disorder and overall tendencies toward chaos. And it isn’t just a crazy theory. Heavens no. It is law. Big law — as in the Second Law of Thermodynamics big. And what is more, it doesn’t state that order must always decrease. Oh, you can produce order all right — highly elaborate order even — only in doing so, disorder will increase somewhere else.

And there’s the key. Go ahead: clean and scrub, sort and organize, produce spectacular order in one area of your home; just understand and accept the fact that there will certainly be order decreasing, every bit as spectacularly, somewhere else in your home — especially if you have children or pets, or maybe even a husband (bless his heart).

There are likely some of you out there reading this and thinking smart little thoughts like, “You didn’t explain this right at all,” and “It has nothing to do with clutter. This is about energy, for crying out loud! It’s about thermodynamics and closed systems!”

But the rest of you are surely thinking, as I have thought all these many years, “Finally! A purely scientific explanation for why my house cannot stay tidy!” Blame it on entropy. Blame it on science. You and your home are simply subject to a greater law — a law of messiness, if you will.

Comfort yourself in knowing that those friends and neighbors of yours who seem to have a home void of dust, clear of any sign of fingerprints on walls and windows, and completely lacking in piles of laundry and unsorted mail, certainly have chaos and disorder somewhere else. You might have to search under their beds or open every drawer in their kitchen, but that disorder is there. Somewhere. It has to be ….

Unless, of course, they are superheroes who can defy the very laws of nature. And if that is the case, well, there is no use comparing yourself to them anyway."

More on clutter:
Three Steps to Organizing Your Child's Room (print version) (Kindle version)
Three Steps to Decluttering (print version) (Kindle version)
Declutter Any Room in 3 Weeks