03 January 2008

On Being Disorganized



Some people take the first few weeks of the new year as the best opportunity to clean things up around the house. Unused stuff and other possessions considered worthless are either thrown or given away in the hope of gaining more space. I think the desire for more space and cleanliness are the reasons why some people try to spruce up during this time.

But then, there's a minority among us who would rather not part with his belongings, be it considered worthless or still useful. Yours truly is one example. Seldom do I throw away stuff. I even recycle candy wrappers as bookmarkers. Considering a thing worthless or useful is a matter of perspective for me. You see garbage, I see something valuable. Yes, my abode can be a bedlam to new visitors, but like Oscar the Grouch, I love my disorganized state.

The local term is makalat, which roughly translates to being 'disorganized' in English. Being makalat is frowned upon in a society which always strives to obtain a state of being next to Godliness. For my part, I think I am makalat because: (1) I seldom have time to organize, (2) I always see something valuable in things, and (3) I don't trust anybody can do it for me.

The NYTimes, however, has a different take on being disorganized:
"It isn’t a house problem," he went on. "It’s a person problem. The person needs to fundamentally change their behavior."

Excessive clutter and disorganization are often symptoms of a bigger health problem. People who have suffered an emotional trauma or a brain injury often find housecleaning an insurmountable task. Attention deficit disorder, depression, chronic pain and grief can prevent people from getting organized or lead to a buildup of clutter. At its most extreme, chronic disorganization is called hoarding, a condition many experts believe is a mental illness in its own right, although psychiatrists have yet to formally recognize it.

[NYTimes, 1 Jan 2008]

So, when being disorganized and clutter reaches a critical level in your house, it becomes a mental condition, and we need to seek professional help? By getting househelp by hiring a house maid? No. By seeking the help of a professional organizer --- yes, such a profession now exists --- who charge in the range of $60-$100 or more per hour. Wow! Typing 'professional organizer' in Google yields more than a half a million results, so it must really be a profitable profession.

The question is when to seek help. Maybe when people begin tripping while walking inside your room, or when the inside of your house starts to look like a jungle. Or maybe when you yourself can no longer enter or leave your house because the chaos is simply too much to handle already. But we pray it never comes to that conclusion.

I agree that being clean or being organized begins in our minds. The clutter we see is simply the tangible manifestation of how much chaos we have inside. We correct the derangement on the inside, we fix the mess on the outside. And except for a few severe cases, I think we can manage to do this on our own without getting our pockets ripped off by professional organizers.

7 reactions:

watson said...

Pero Doc, isn't being "makalat" relative? It might look cluttered to one person, but to the owner, he knows just where everything is. And if someone tries to organize it for him, he then gets lost and says "mas magulo" even if things look spic and span.

Yes Doc, I'm trying to justify myself. Hehe. Happy New Year!

Dr. Emer said...

Exactly what I said in the second paragraph, Watson. Like you, I am also trying to justify myself. Happy New Year!

may said...

doc emer, i have a "throwing disease". if you need help getting rid of kalat in your place, i'll do it for you for free :)

happy new year!

rolly said...

Welcome home, doc.

I, too, can be makalat especially at work. Minsan naman, this is borne out of laziness. hehe

Yun din namang ultra organized, may problema din, diba? OC

Toni said...

Kalat's okay as long as it doesn't affect you or those around you! I don't believe a cluttered desk reflects a cluttered mind, but a decluttered area does help one think more clearly. :D

Dr. Emer said...

MAY - I might take you on that offer! :-)

T.ROLLS - Can we strike a balance then?

TONI - Agree!

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