How Clutter Can Negatively Impact Your Life

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Home Improvement

Have you ever wondered when clutter can start to affect your life in a negative way? Clutter can accumulate due to time constraints, creativity, and consumerism. Items that you don’t have time to deal with end up in piles on the kitchen table, and in-progress projects take up space in the living room. Clothing, DVDs, and small appliances can overflow from their storage units and create clutter in your home.

Messiness can cause stress and lower your self-image, but sometimes the negative feelings about your home’s organization come from worrying about what others think of your clutter. While humans are naturally organized, we all have different styles. Some see clutter as a failure of home cleaning, but moderate clutter may be the result of a highly organized mind. The question to ask is whether your clutter works for you, not whether it disturbs someone else.

Some people benefit from visual reminders, such as having a pile of bills on the table to remind them to pay them. Leaving tools out on the table can also help some people accomplish more by avoiding the need to waste time and energy digging them out again.

However, excessive clutter can be harmful to your emotional, physical, financial, and social health. Compulsive hoarding is a disorder that can cause excessive clutter and is considered pathological. When your organized mess becomes disorganized, and your piles grow in height and number, your household system can stop functioning. Clutter can also impede creativity and daily activities. Bugs and pests can make homes in your clutter, and your friends may even arrange an intervention.

It’s important to find a healthy balance between organizing your home and living in it. Moderate clutter is normal, but excessive clutter can harm your life in many ways. It can lengthen simple tasks, make you feel incompetent, harm your credit, distance you from friends, and even collect allergens and disease-bearing vermin. For more information on creating a healthy home, see the next page.

Additional Information

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  • Ways to Organize Your Home Office


  • Abrahamson, Eric and David H. Freedman. A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder. Little, Brown and Company, 2006.
  • Alexander, Skye. 10-Minute Clutter Control Room by Room. Fair Winds Press, 2005.
  • Branscum, Deborah. “The Hoarding Syndrome: When Clutter Goes Out of Control.” Reader’s Digest: March 2007. (March 3, 2010)–when-clutter-goes-out-of-control/article34091.html
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Hoarding.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. May 30, 2009. Diseases and Conditions. (March 3, 2010)
  • Nakone, Lanna, M.A. Organizing for Your Brain Type: Finding Your Own Solution to Managing Time, Paper, and Stuff. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2005.


1. What is clutter and how does it affect my life?

Clutter is the accumulation of things that are not necessary or useful in our living spaces. It can include clothes, paperwork, old electronics, and other items that take up space and cause disorganization. Clutter affects our lives in a variety of ways, including increased stress, decreased productivity, and decreased mental clarity.

2. How does clutter affect my mental health?

Clutter can contribute to feelings of overwhelm and anxiety. When our living spaces are cluttered, it can be difficult to relax and feel at ease. This can impact our mental health negatively, leading to increased stress and even depression in some cases.

3. Can clutter affect my physical health?

Yes, clutter can affect our physical health in several ways. When our living spaces are cluttered, it can be more difficult to clean and maintain a hygienic environment. Clutter can also contribute to allergies and other respiratory issues by trapping dust and other irritants.

4. How does clutter affect my productivity?

Clutter can lead to decreased productivity by causing distractions and making it difficult to focus on tasks at hand. When our living spaces are cluttered, it can be challenging to find the items we need, leading to wasted time and frustration.

5. Can clutter affect my relationships?

Yes, clutter can impact our relationships with others. When our living spaces are cluttered, it can be embarrassing to have guests over, leading to social isolation. Clutter can also cause tension between roommates or family members who may have different levels of tolerance for disorganization.

6. How can I declutter my living space?

Decluttering can be a daunting task, but it is essential for creating a more organized and peaceful living space. Start by identifying the areas in your home that are most cluttered and prioritize those spaces. Consider donating or selling items that are no longer needed or useful. Organize items that are frequently used to make them more accessible.

7. What are the benefits of a decluttered living space?

A decluttered living space can lead to increased mental clarity, decreased stress, and improved productivity. It can also make it easier to maintain a clean and hygienic environment, leading to improved physical health. A decluttered living space can also improve relationships with others by making it easier to entertain guests and reducing social isolation.

8. How can I maintain a clutter-free living space?

Maintaining a clutter-free living space requires ongoing effort and commitment. Set aside time each week to declutter and organize areas that are prone to clutter. Consider implementing a “one in, one out” rule to prevent new clutter from accumulating. Finally, make a conscious effort to regularly reassess your possessions and donate or sell items that are no longer needed or useful.

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