Calculating the high cost of clutter

by Patti Chirico

“Don”t touch that pile…I know where everything is…in that pile!”

Sound familiar? As a “former cluttered mess,” I used to say the same thing. Occasionally, it is true. Given enough time to look through a particular pile, we are able to find a certain paper or item. But if an emergency came up and someone else needed to find a document or other item for us, could they?

The true test of order is (1) for you to be able to find anything you need in 30 seconds, and (2) while you’re away from your office or home, for someone else to be able to find anything in 30 seconds.

Consider the cost

Disorder creates distractions and confusion, taking our focus off the course God has planned for our businesses and homes. Clutter costs us time, money, and often, our jobs.

National studies have shown that the typical executive spends four and one-half hours a week looking for lost papers. At a salary of $30,000, the cost of searching for important papers, measured in lost time, is $3,376 per year.

At $60,000, the cost is $6,752 per year. At $100,000, the annual cost jumps to $11,250.

As staggering as these costs are, the majority of managers and business owners with whom I’ve worked report that they lose even more. I have found that the cost often jumps to 15 percent of their yearly income. Imagine how many missionaries in other countries we could support just by getting organized.

Just think—at this rate, nearly two years of each life is lost looking through clutter.

For stay-at-home moms, your time is worth gold. Taking time to raise children to love God and live according to biblical principles has rewards that are eternally immeasurable. For practical purposes, a mom should count her hourly “wage” the same as her husband’s, since the two are one in the eyes of God.

Other staggering reasons to organize

    * Each interruption costs us six minutes of focused time in addition to the time of the actual interruption. For example, suppose you answer the phone in your office. If you talk 10 minutes, you actually lose 16 minutes of productivity. If you have only two 10-minute phone calls in one hour, you will lose 32 minutes!
    * Disorganized companies are targets for scams by people who double bill for an invoice because the company is unaware of the correct order.
    * According to management engineers, misfiled documents cost between $61 and $122 to be retrieved.
    * Workers lose 280 hours per year, or seven weeks, seeking clarification because of poor communication due to disorganization.

Housing your stuff

Think you might need it one day? Organizational studies have shown that most people never reference 80 percent of all papers they save.

Consider this: When looking at our budgets, we carefully evaluate many expenses, including the cost of utilities in both our businesses and homes. But we forget about the cost of heating, cooling, and housing our “stuff.”

Factor in the percentage of space those piles occupy and you may find the loss is quite similar to the waste of renting a storage room just to house your junk.

God’s plan

In the late 16th century, the word "order" was used to describe the formation of an army. The term eventually was used as a verb when orders were given for battle formation.

Now, in the 21st century, we are in a daily battle for the preservation of our families, marriages, schools, businesses, homes, and certainly, our sanity! Order in our offices and homes is essential if we are to have the strength to win this battle!

Organization takes time. Disorder did not happen overnight, and neither will organization. Getting organized is an investment of time, effort, and money, but it yields very high returns!

God’s Word has every answer for us, including how to organize our lives and how to spend His money. We are not owners but caretakers of God’s property. We know we can’t take it with us, yet we often act like we can.

The Crown Life Group Study provides easy steps and handles of hope to cope with organizing your finances according to biblical principles. Join one of these studies now and bring true order in your life. Our God is a faithful God and stands ready to help you. Just ask Him.

Some basics to help you begin organizing

1. Separate items you want to keep from giveaways and throw-away items. Use the “Six Months Rule.” If you haven’t used it in six months and don’t plan to use it in the next six months, it belongs to someone else to use. Exceptions are occasional use, specialty use, and seasonal items.

2. Combine like items. Keep the items that are basically called by the same name combined together.

3. Evaluate your “combined-keep-items” on a basis of high or low priority. If an item is used frequently, it is designated as a high priority, and vice versa.

4. Assign a place for everything. Find specific places only for items you have fully determined to keep, based on the above steps. Don’t make the mistake of trying to find places for everything you own, including items that should be purged from ownership.


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