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Could the Clutter You See Be Deeper Than It Appears?


                          Clutter Creates Chaos 

                          Photo Courtesy Joeshmo

Clutter is a serious issue when placing a home on the market, but it is also a major issue in day to day life.  Having clutter in your environment causes confusion and makes it difficult to concentrate.  It can be frustrating to deal with and sometimes, it is a sign of much deeper issues than just a bad habit.

Some folks can deal with and even thrive in a certain level of clutter while most people will function best in an organized environment.  But excessive clutter is impossible to live or work in well.  Eventually, the chaos will spill over into other areas of a person’s life and the issue will have to be dealt with.  It can even be a sign of something deeper like hoarding.

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People with ADD can have a particularly difficult time with their clutter.  The process of organizing requires that you have a plan and are able to focus on the plan from beginning to end and oftentimes, you need to work it backwards as you work through each area of your home or office.  It can be easy to become discouraged as you clear out one space to turn around and see you have created more work in another space. 

You can also look at clutter from an energetic perspective.  In Feng Shui, clutter represents a blockage in the flow of energy, so depending upon where it is in your home is reflective of where it is going to show up in your life.  Having a home full of clutter often reflects a life full of obstacles.  Clear the clutter and new opportunties are bound to come your way.                              

                               Getting and Staying Organized Will Allow Your Life to Flow Easily

                              Photo Courtesy heidehibbard

To make your organizing efforts easier, be prepared before you start.  Know ahead of time that cleaning and organizing are two different things, and that you will have to clean before you organize and you will have to clean again when you are done 🙂 .  And a tip to keep you sane, know too that organizing is best done daily.  Just a few minutes a day will keep you on top of the game.

For some Clutter Clearing 101 Tips, please read on:

  • Be Prepared– Have 4 boxes or bags ready and label them, Keep, Throw Away, Give Away, Don’t Know.
  • Divide and Conquer-Start in one room, one area at a time.  Use your boxes and make a decision NOW.  Do you need it, love it, use it?  Yes?  Put it in the Keep box.  If not, put it in one of the other boxes.  Not sure?  Put it in the Don’t Know box.  Do this quickly-don’t overthink each item and don’t let a guilt trip make you keep something you don’t need, use or love.
  • Proceed until the closet, dresser, countertop, room, whatever is empty or cleared.  Put the discard items in the recycle or trash bin.  Give away or donate the items in the give away box-take them out of the house NOW.  Give the Don’t Know box to a friend and ask them to place it in their garage temporarily.  Put away the Keep items where they belong.  If they belong in a space that has not been organized yet, place them in the room or space where they do belong to make your future organizing for that room easier.  Do not allow yourself to become distracted from your previous project by beginning to start a new project in the new area until the last one is complete.
  • Complete the process until you have finished your organizing project.
  • Reward yourself as you complete each space for your great work!
  • After 3 months,  call your friend with the Don’t Know box.  Have your friend ask you what is in it that you truly need.  No, they cannot tell you what is in the box.  😉  You need to ask for it.  (And now that you know this step, no cheating!  You can’t make a list before you hand over the box.)  Whatever is left over, ask them to please donate it.

If you find that you need help, consult a professional.  There are organizations that can help you get on track and start the process.  If you need therapy, consult a therapist with experience in dealing with these types of issues.  Staying organized is much easier once you have the system in place.

Happy Clutter Clearing!

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Written By

Nickie is the founder of and She is a certified IBE Healthy Home Practitioner, Certified Usui Reiki Practitioner and Feng Shui Consultant. She has lived on both coasts (as well as in the gorgeous Rocky Mountains of Colorado) of the US and currently calls Los Angeles home. You can find her in plenty of spots in the online world and should you happen to catch her at home, she will probably make you something yummy!



  1. Barry Cunningham

    June 9, 2008 at 10:50 am

    I love clutter..the more the better..this is a buyer’s market. Must be a satger’s nightmare…here’s the dig…

    More clutter = Higher discount. So I love the clutter..I don’t mind cat odor or cigarette smoke or dingy closets…smells like money!

  2. Teresa Boardman

    June 9, 2008 at 11:49 am

    that is why I must live in my house forever, it is too cluttered to sell. 🙂

  3. Paula Henry

    June 9, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Have you been inside my office – you could have written this for me today!

    Otherwise – I like neat and orderly. When selling a home, sellers need to realize a buyer can’t see through their clutter. Clean, orderly and well kept will net them the highest $$.

    As for my office – well – I may need a professional, or at least a full time assistant.

  4. Jennifer in Louisville

    June 9, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    A great many persons don’t live in immaculately ordered homes – so if they see a prospective home that they are considering purchasing, and its orderly, neat, and well cared for – they “think” that if they purchase the home, that they will suddenly receive by osmosis a neat and orderly home as well when they move in. Clutter is great for buyers looking to make a deal. Neat is great for sellers looking to make more than they probably ordinarily would.

  5. Ken Smith

    June 9, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Timely post as my wife and I just had another discussion about my organization skills, or lack of them. A clean desk is a sign of insanity IMO, just a messy desk is driving my wife insane. Guess for the benefit of our marriage I will be spending tomorrow organizing the office.

  6. Irina Netchaev

    June 9, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Nickie, I’m off to get my four boxes… you inspired me to start working on my office closet! Talk about a bunch of supplies that I thought I would need, well… maybe I really will need them some day… I just don’t know… See my dilemma.

    I do love the four boxes idea and giving away the box with “don’t knows” to a friend. 🙂

    BTW, what a fantastic addition to AG! Way to go Nickie!!!

  7. Ruthmarie Hicks

    June 9, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    My mother was the biggest clutter bug ever. When she passed away it took me 30 garbage bags a week for two years before I gave up and called in the professionals. Three dumpsters later, I vowed NEVER to let things get that out of control in my personal space….then….I went into real estate…and I have become my mother.

  8. Susan Hilton - Texas Aggie Realtor

    June 9, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    It is also very difficult for someone who is dyslexic to clean out a room! The processes, organization and systems just aren’t there many times.

  9. Carson C

    June 9, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    I can’t tell you how bad I am needing to hear this right now… I have a hard time finishing what I start before starting something new. This subject seems to be a recurring theme in my reading as of late. They say it’s a sign of creativity (thats my excuse for now). Good wake-up call.

  10. Mariana

    June 9, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    This is awesome. is another great resource for dealing with clutter on a day to day basis. Clutter happens and it is so nice to have tips. like yours, to help us (and out clients) manage it better. Thank you.

  11. Sabrina

    June 9, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Moving is a great time to clear up clutter, particularly moving to a smaller space. We moved from a large home to a 2-bedroom high rise, and it was a great time for getting rid of things. We had to streamline the household big time, and we feel so much more free.

  12. Nickie Rothwell

    June 9, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    Barry, That’s a perspective I hadn’t considered… 🙂

    T, What would St. Paul do without you?

    Paula, I think every office needs an assistant…or a magic Genie that comes each evening while we’re sleeping and neatly files while we doze…

    Jennifer, You nailed it on all points. Absolutely true!

    Ken, It sounds like you two complement each other perfectly! Many find their desk to be their greatest challenge, but it sounds like have a great motivator.

    Irina, Thank you so much! The four boxes really do work. The key is to move quickly, if you hesitate over an item, don’t put it in the keep box whatever you do!

    Ruthmarie, Clutter and real estate seem to go hand in hand 🙂 I feel your pain working through your mom’s house full of clutter. I have a close family member with a serious clutter issue too, and it really is a difficult problem.

    Susan, Yes, there are many different factors that can lead to severe issues with clutter. We’ve just touched the surface.

    Carson, One step at a time. Start small. Find one area that seems to bug you the most and once you get that done, reward yourself! Every accomplishment is important! It will be that much easier to move on the the next spot. Think of something really great for when you have completed everything you set out to do!

    Mariana, Thanks for the tip! It is great to have another resource! And you are right, “clutter happens”, we just need to manage it so it doesn’t get the best of us.

    Sabrina, Moving is an excellent time to clear out extra stuff! I’m glad you brought up the point of how much freer you feel. Letting go of all those things you don’t really need takes a lot of pressure off and you will feel lighter.

  13. Ken Smith

    June 10, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Nicki there is no question we compliment each other in many ways. In the areas I lack she excels and vis versa. Naturally this can cause issues as we each see the world with very different eyes. In the end we normally realize that the correct vision is somewhere between both of our ideal visions.

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