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, December 3, 2012

Clutter Lessons We Can Learn from Woodpeckers

I came across Wendy Langhans' amusing and educational article about woodpeckers and their organizing habits. I think we could learn a lot from them. Enjoy! :)

"It’s a question I’ve been asking myself lately:  what is the difference between storing useful stuff and acumulating clutter?

Perhaps there’s something to be learned from the behavior of Acorn Woodpeckers.

Last Saturday, on a hike at East Canyon, I noticed an Acorn Woodpecker flying overhead.  As I looked about, I noticed a “granary tree”, a dead tree trunk drilled with hundreds of acorn-sized holes.  Some of the holes already had acorns in them, but there were plenty of empty spaces.  I suspect the woodpecker was heading back to gather more acorns from the oaks on the other side of the canyon.

There are 22 species of woodpeckers in North America.  Acorn Woodpeckers are unique among woodpecker species because of their cooperative social behavior.  They live together in family groups of up to 15 birds.

During the spring and summer, Acorn woodpeckers feed mainly on insects.  But in the fall, they work together in family groups to gather and store enough acorns to last throughout the winter.  Sometimes they use a tree, sometimes a telephone pole...

and sometimes...

(Photo courtesy Ron Kraus)

...they choose whatever is handy, like this broken bulletin board at Walker Ranch.

Both Acorn woodpeckers and humans store stuff.  According to the Self Storage Association, 'One in 10 US households currently rent a self storage unit”.  There “is 7.3 sq.ft. of self storage space for every man, woman and child in the nation'.

But when does storing useful stuff become accumulating clutter? Here are three lessons I learned from Acorn Woodpeckers:

1)  Woodpeckers store acorns for a season; humans store stuff for an indeterminate period of time, perhaps even a lifetime.

2)  Woodpecker storage is focused.  They collect acorns.  Human storage is often unfocused.  We collect socks, jewelry, postcards, you-name-it.

But perhaps the most important lesson I learned is this:

3)  Woodpeckers store acorns to feed better; humans store stuff to feel better."

More on our clutter:
The Scientific Reason for Clutter
Yale Study: Why Letting Go Is Literally Painful
Disheartening Findings from a UCLA Study on Clutter and the Middle Class