Are You a Surface Conqueror? And How to Change it.

A place for everything, everything in its place.“  – Proverb

The term Surface Conqueror was coined by a good friend, Peter Allen, in 1998 to describe a person who persistently engages in the act of leaving their belongings on every possible surface in the home or office.  Books, electronic devices, keys, CDs, newspapers, food, dishes, mail – all left in the place it was last used or perhaps stored on the first available surface with no thought put into finding its right place.  This is being a Surface Conqueror.  Unfortunately, it was a phrase used to describe me at the time.  Fortunately, I have since broken the habit.

How you overcome being a surface conqueror:

  1. First, you have to want to break this bad habit.  Realize that it affects those around you because you are cluttering their space as well.  Also, realize that it affects you because 1) at some point you have to clean your place (so you are delaying your responsibility and thus living with the weight of the impending chore) and 2) it causes you stress when you can’t find something easily.
  2. Recognize when you have too many things.  You should only have things you care about.  If you care about them then find them a home.  This will be the place where it always resides.
  3. Take the time to return things to their home when you are done with them.  This is much like checking a book out from the library.  It takes your energy to pull something from its home but the process isn’t complete until you return it to the same place.  You get fined if you don’t return it – in this case not financially but mentally (when you say “Where did I put those keys?” as you run around the house frantically trying to find them).
  4. Find peace in the simple maintenance.  If you turn “the chore” of putting things away into the mindful act of taking care of your things then the activity will no longer be “a chore” but rather a pleasant opportunity to work on being in the moment.

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