What do you get the man who has everything? Shelves. So goes the saying anyway. But really it should say ‘woman’ because it’s women who seem to have an absolute obsession with organising, storing and generally getting on top of ‘stuff’.
It’s women who are attracted, like moths to a flame, to storage units that look like they’re in charge, pretty bags and boxes that offer calm, underbed drawers that can hide the ugliness of life and wicker baskets that beckon with untold opportunities. Men don’t seem to feel that way.
The national Clear Your Clutter campaign which I run every year in March has a following that is 85% female. And I’ve noticed that every single edition of the popular women’s monthly Good Housekeeping has at least one article about storage, organising or de-cluttering.
Even Esquire wouldn’t bother with that. Pinterest, which has a following that is over 90% female, is stuffed full of clever storage ideas while the membership of APDO (the Association of Professional De-clutterers and Organisers) is 95% female.
And it tends to be women readers on my website MoneyMagpie who give tips on de-junking your life and getting on top of things. Julia H says: “My spring cleaning tip is to get a large black bag and go around the house picking any bits and pieces that are out of place. Put this black bag in a garage for storage for one month only.
After that, if you don’t need these bits and pieces, get rid of them. Trust me, a lot of rubbish will be out of your house in no time at all.” So true. It’s generally the women who suddenly get the urge to spring-clean, sweeping through the house like they’re possessed, picking up useless stuff to throw out as they go, such as old mobile phones, piles of DVDs, old clothes and, occasionally, their husbands.
There’s something about organising our stuff that attracts women in the same way as Justin Bieber cuddling kittens while giving his mum a back rub. It must be an element in the female psyche that makes us feel that if we can just get on top of our ‘stuff’ we will get on top of our lives. It could be connected to the generally female role of running the family’s money.
A new survey by Nationwide finds that women are more likely to run the household budget (a third said they did) than men (a quarter).
And we know that household junk is worth good money if you get round to selling it. In fact, there is about £5.7 billion-worth in homes across the country, according to classifieds website Gumtree.
Or maybe our fascination with sorting, de-cluttering and storing stems from the claim that you can actually lose weight by clearing clutter. Seriously. American professional organiser, Peter Walsh, author of Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight claims that people with cluttered homes are 77% likely to be overweight or obese and cites evidence to back this up.
Another American, Dr Pamela Peeke, says that she had one patient whose garage was “a solid cube of clutter”. But the woman cleaned up her home and, in the process, lost nearly four stone. “It wasn’t, at the end of the day, about her weight,” Dr Peeke says, “it was about uncluttering at multiple levels of her life.” So all power to the women who want to clear, the girls who get organised and the dames who de-clutter.
The nation needs it, as our urge to acquire has made us fat and poor. We’ve been clogging up our floors, and arteries, for too long with stuff we neither need nor want. Girl Power will make us free from clutter. And if the boys want to join in, they would be very welcome.