In PADI Advanced Certification years ago, our dive master took us down around 100 feet deep, so that we could learn how nitrogen narcosis would affect us. I got one version: a nearby tobaccofish seemed fascinating to me. In that state, I would be in danger of losing track of time, and could run out of air. My dive buddy got another version: he became agitated and uneasy. In that state, he’d be likely to watch his gauges, and want to go up out of danger.
I haven’t been diving in a while now, but I’m beginning to believe there’s a “clutter narcosis”. As a home gets beyond a certain critical depth of clutter, you’ll see people reacting differently. For some, the deep clutter is a comfortable state. For others, that depth generates an uneasy, agitated feeling. If the clutter is deep enough, a victim can experience paralysis.
My recent priorities yielded a dangerous depth of clutter. When a brief lull appeared early this week, clutter narcosis hit me bigtime. I had to do something, but where to begin? I was paralyzed. Like many daughters, I phoned my mother for advice. Following her advice, I fought back the clutter levels to a tolerable depth.
Next time you’re hit by clutter narcosis, try her technique:
- Using a timer (kitchen timer, watch, cellphone, microwave — they’re everywhere these days), tidy the clutter in each room for only ONE minute. Go from room to room until you’ve done every room in the house.
- If you’re still feeling some paralysis, repeat these ONE minute rounds once or twice. At some point the adrenaline from rushing from room to room will start to change your mood.
- Next, set the timer for TWO minutes, and make another round. You’ll start to see some progress with this round.
- Next, set the timer for THREE minutes, and make another round.
- By now you’re probably in the swing of things. You can increment to FOUR and FIVE minute rounds, or back down to TWO and ONE minute rounds, until the clutter is gone, or at least tolerable.
This technique doesn’t substitute for keeping the clutter down as you go about your day-to-day life, just as the knowledge of your nitrogen narcosis reaction doesn’t substitute for watching your dive gauges and diving at safe depths. But hopefully this will help you, the next time you get into a dangerous clutter depth, and narcosis sets in.
Mama’s method is very good for clutter paralysis, but one thing you have to keep in mind is that its time efficiency isn’t as good as concentrating on one area until its done. So if you’re in a time crunch, I’d personally concentrate on one area/room until done… and save Mama’s method for times you really just can’t bring up the will to clean!