Clutter and Stress: How Clearing Clutter Can Result in More Than Just Clearing Your Space

by Jacquie Ross, Professional Organizer
(Baltimore, Maryland)

How do you feel when you’re surrounded by clutter? Anxious? Unsettled? Stressed? Clutter and disorganization can add a significant amount of stress to your life because it mentally weighs you down. Then there’s the day to day challenges of being disorganized, which in many cases include missing important papers, late bills, forgotten appointments and procrastination.

So what is clutter exactly? Generally when we think of clutter, we imagine piles of stuff on the floor and surfaces, sometimes to the point of creating a fire hazard. According to Karen Kingston, author of “Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui”, there are four categories of clutter:

• Things you do not use or love
• Things that are untidy or disorganized
• Too many things in too small a space
• Anything unfinished

It’s important that you understand what clutter is before you begin the process of decluttering your home, because it will help you to make decisions more quickly and prevent you from hanging onto items that do not add value to your life. For instance, if you pick up an item of clothing that you either , haven’t worn in over a year, have never worn, or don’t particularly like, instead of saying to yourself, “I might wear it someday”, you might instead say, “I do not use it or love it, so it can go”.

If you can’t bear to get rid of something because you’ve “paid too much for it”, then make a decision to arrange to sell it the very next day. Call a consignment store and ask them if they can sell it, or sign up with eBay, or schedule the yard sale you’ve been talking about for years. The key is to do something or let it go. If you don’t trust yourself to follow through on this, enlist a trusted friend whom you can be accountable to.

Clutter can also make you feel tired and even a little depressed. This certainly doesn’t help when you need the energy and motivation to physically get rid of it. That’s why it’s recommended that you ask for help. Sometimes it’s hard for a family member or friend not to judge you, as hard as they might try. People who are naturally organized or do not hold onto stuff will think you just need to throw everything away! Of course, that’s going to be heartbreaking for the typical clutterer, especially if they have some hoarding tendencies. A professional organizer is trained to understand why you hang on to clutter and will be unbiased and non-judgmental. They will work with you to free yourself of the clutter and help you get back to living your life again.

Jacquie Ross is a Maryland based Professional Organizer, writer, speaker and owner of CastAway the Clutter! Organizing Services. A member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and NAPO-Baltimore Chapter, she shows homeowners how to reclaim their time and space, and offers organizing and time management workshops and group presentations. Jacquie writes a column at the Baltimore Examiner called Organized Families and is the author of Take Control of Your Clutter Before it Takes Control of You: 101 Tips to Success. Visit CastAway the Clutter to sign up for Jacquie's free organizing tips and to learn more about her at

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