Science Fiction Double Feature: Blogging Guilt + Clutter and Personal boundaries

Hi everyone,

You know that unfortunate “sorry I haven’t been posting” post?  Yeah, this is mine.  The rhythms of my day job get more and more complicated this time of year, so blogging simply had to take a back seat.  But I will not let that get me down!

This will be a two part post.  The first, I feel compelled to add.  It’s about time and blogging:

I.  TCB: Taking care of business

This is one for the bloggers out there.  If you are dealing with something very complicated in your offline life, and you are quite literally taking care of business, don’t feel guilty if you missed your post.  I know that’s a tall order, given the prevalence of guilt and also the fact that for many people regular posting is money or at least professional reputation.

The Thinking 30something is nowhere near that level of renown, but I do get concerned when I can’t stick to my posting schedule.  I worry I will look flaky, lazy, unprofessional, and unambitious.  All of that is false, but it’s something I struggle with.

What I do when I know I’ll be unable to blog is to literally “warn” readers in a post.  If it’s one of those things that slides off the plate, well that’s a little tougher.  I acknowledge that slack and try to avoid it in the future.  And I try not to make a big deal of it.  We’ve all got lives, and sometimes those lives need tending.

Ok, onto the next section!

2.  Clutter and personal boundaries

A really good way to learn, define, and assert your personal boundaries all over the place is to get your home in order. Look to your domestic sphere.  Taking on more than you can manage isn’t just tasks at work or social events.  Sometimes too much *stuff* undermines you ability to do what you need and want to do.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about clutter of all sorts, especially how to get rid of it, making a damn party of getting rid of it, and how good that can feel.  It’s kind of a pet issue for me.  And I think any conversation about professional development or time management needs to include that personal dimension.   Life at work influences life and home and vice versa.  There is a therapeutic value to keeping your personal space organized and manageable.

Order and peace in one space in your life automatically influences others.  I know what this can do to a person, and I’ve had to help out many times with life-change or end of life cleanups.  So I’m personally invested in learning more about managing and disposing of the material excess we all seem to accumulate.  Clutter takes over, it ignores your time, your space, and your needs and desires.  Learning to manage clutter can directly improve your ability to say “enough is enough!” with other boundaries, and learn to draw your lines.

Clutter is:

  • Common: we all have to deal with this in one form or another, from actual physical clutter to “virtual” clutter (when was the last time you organized your Documents folder?  what’s on that flash drive – who knows!)
  • Rational: It makes perfect sense to neglect housework if, say, you’re ill, or caregiving, or working 12+ hour days.
  • Irrational: Clutter is irrational too, in the sense that you know when you have too much stuff laying around, but you can’t bring yourself to do anything because it causes powerful negative feelings – you may literally not be rational, or reasoning fully, when dealing with your clutter.  It is very powerful emotionally, and if you’re cluttering due to an emotional issue, it takes a lot of work to examine and unlearn those mental responses that lead to clutter.
  • Possible to manage: Above all, I want to stress that it’s not only normal to struggle with clutter, but that it’s completely possible to manage it.  There are many fine resources out there that you can learn from.

Clutter takes a lot out of you.  It may seem like “just” inanimate objects, but after a point, it takes over.  Clutter prevents:

  • Clear thinking: I know how this feels…you come home from “one of those days” at work and you need to pay the bills and tend to your neglected personal projects and you can’t focus because your space is chaotic!  You think, “maybe I’m lazy or not motivated” – you’re not – you just can’t concentrate because all the objects are “screaming” at you.  How can anyone hear their own thoughts in a messy room?  Each pile represents a task you must undertake, but all together it’s quite overwhelming.
  • Healthy living: Ever try to dust a cluttered space?  Doesn’t happen.  Ever spill something in a cluttered space, and think you have it all cleaned up?  Probably not – there will be mystery stains.  Clutter prevents actual cleaning from taking place.  If you can’t wipe down surfaces, mop floors, or attend to spills with a minimum of preamble (move pile A here, move pile B because pile A needs a spot so you can mop that spilled milkshake….)  then you’re not going to be able to clean effectively and that will impact your health.  I’m talking allergens, mold, insects, mice, and so on.  Also, if you cannot move around in your space, you may bump into things, trip over them, or simply not be able to travel around your own dwelling (or have emergency personnel get in).  A small path is not enough.
  • Social interaction: If you can’t exist comfortably in your own space, how are you going to have anyone over?  Clutter and the shame it produces can be very possessive, claiming all your space and even time you can be spending with friends and loved ones.

So there’s some food for thought.  Next time, I want to revisit this topic, and talk about specific techniques to manage clutter, and how those can help you continually learn to set your boundaries.


See you later!