column 300 on the treadmill

Column number 300.

This is the 300’th Design Dilemma column. Unbelievable, huh? I started, way back when, as a way to get exposure for my business. It was dated August 29, 2008.

Over time, it’s changed a bit from short, quick design issues and fixes to a more all-inclusive column about home life and, hopefully, some hints to make it easier for you to have an easy home to live in.

I did draw the line at including recipes in the column. They belong in the cooking columns, not the home decor columns. And I’ve stuck to that. I think…

Back in 2008, I don’t think ‘declutter’ was even a word, let alone a lifestyle trend that makes us think our homes are all out of control. I’ve watched it grow from nothing to a household word that is impacting almost every house-holder I know. And that’s why I write about it a lot. You need help.

Marketing found a need, created a cure, persuaded the public that they had the problem, and therefore needed the cure — and away they went. To the tune of $11.8 Billion annually in just how to organize all the stuff they persuade us to buy.
It has also helped millions of people feel inadequate, spend money they don’t have and line the pockets of the marketing pros.

Think I’m kidding about the marketing thing? A very successful writer, who once worked as a copywriter, relates that his boss told the writers, ‘Invent a disease and we will market the he$$ out of the cure.’

Edward Bernays’, the father of PR, proposed that the public relations business was less about selling things than about creating the conditions for things to sell themselves.

How does this impact us, down here in the trenches?

We would do ourselves a great service if we could just stop for a minute and think this through. Once we get to the logical conclusion of how these marketers work, living a less accumulation-centric life becomes easier.

The marketers need to sell us stuff. So they make us want stuff by advertising it. Being human, we are susceptible to advertising. — Which is why marketing works — and we buy the stuff the marketers have convinced us we need. Then we need a place to put the stuff. And we buy organizational systems, thinking that these are the solution to the overflowing closets and drawers. ( It’s not; less stuff is the solution. But I digress).

And that system doesn’t work, so we buy another system, or a label maker, or a color-coded filing system, or clear bins, or extensions to the top of the wire shelving systems, or track systems for the ceiling in the garage. Because we are all conscious of wasting money, we also keep these useless systems, and need places to store them, and organize them, and the marketers just rub their hands together.

Getting off the treadmill is not easy, granted. But it is possible. A home that is full of stuff, is overcrowded with things we don’t use or even want any longer does not support a healthy life. Mentally, or physically.

Think about all the time spent ‘cleaning’, which is too often a euphemism for trying to find places to put the stuff, it’s the time taken away from cooking a meal, or playing with the kids, or reading a book, or training the dog, or taking a walk. Or, heaven forbid, getting enough sleep.

A home needs to be a support system. Not an energy suck, time suck, money suck and happiness suck.

Getting off the accumulation-centric treadmill is the start.

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