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The Psychology of Clutter

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I have been wondering what prompts someone to hire a professional organizer and after one or two organizing sessions, they decide to discontinue my services.  I try not to take it personal  :-(… If they didn’t recognize the need, they would not have hired me.


Let’s look at a few possibilities:

  • Boredom – The process can be a little tedious, but they seem to work through it well… and they can see the progress.
  • Not a Priority – Once the session is over, they may lose interest.  They become preoccupied with other things
  • Financial – They believe that they just cannot justify the expense. But I am cheaper than most?

So what do you think would persuade a person to be willing to continue the process, especially AFTER they’ve done the hardest part… Called the Professional Organizer!    They already know that De-cluttering is crucial to establishing Order!

So what is CLUTTER?  Let’s look at the definition:

  • (organizing), a confusing or disorderly state or collection, and possible symptom of compulsive hoarding
  • to run in disorder
  • to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness

We know that DISORDER has a grave impact to our mind, body and spirit.  Many of my clients believe that they are on the verge of being a “hoarder”, BUT the importance of de-cluttering appears to simply fall by the waste side.  Why?

Recently, I read an article by Mikael Cho, co founder of oompf, entitled How Clutter Affects the Brain (and what you can do about it).  In the article, Mike says:

Whether it be your closet or office desk, excess things in your surroundings can have a negative impact on your ability to focus and process information. That’s exactly what neuro-scientists at Princeton University found when they looked at people’s task performance in an organized versus disorganized environment. The results of the study showed that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.

God gave me this revelation, when He gave me this ministry of Order Your Steps.   So I didn’t need scientific proof, but for some, it may shed more light on the mystery of Clutter…  I would love to better understand the true Psychology of Clutter.  Not the Why we need to do it, but the Why we don’t stick to it?

Another quote from Mike’s article that I really liked:

Clutter, whether physical or digital, is something you’ll always have to deal with but it can be controlled. Finding ways to steer the streams of consumption in your favor will give you a sense of power and a freed mind, leaving room for you to create and experience life without constantly filling your cup to the top with someone else’s sugar.

Any thoughts or suggestions for me?
Incentives, added discounts or is it purely psychological??

10 thoughts on “The Psychology of Clutter

  1. Thanks for the links and the post. It certainly got my brain spinning. As far as why they might stop after they contact you here are some ideas: house never clean/decluttered long enough to enjoy the benefits, endless cycle (clean/dirty repeat), process brings up emotions, difficult to maintain, difficult to deal with other people’ stuff, the end seems so far away. On the flip side, you may have also inspired them enough to see that they are capable of doing it themselves with the direction you already gave them.

    • Thanks so much. A lot of good ideas. I did have a lady that was truly inspired and she truly took off!! As you said, there can be a lot of reasons. Thanks for your comments!!

  2. I can always tell by the amount of clutter in my house what condition my mind is in. Right now, it’s alright but it could be better. For us perfectionist types, clutter can be overwhelming and anxiety producing. We call organizers to help us get started and then think we can continue on our own. Uh, no. We have to accept Clutter is chronic and needs ongoing management. Your clients will soon realize yours is a healing ministry. If they stay the course — as I have learned — blessings will come.

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. For me, when there is a lot of my mind, it is difficult for me to focus, thus I am more apt to procrastinate, even when it comes to organizing. However, as I begin to put things in order, my mind starts to clear. Your comments are so insightful. You are very astute to see that this is truly my ministry and the healing is an ongoing process. Blessings to you also! 🙂

  3. Candy, I love this post and find the topic fascinating. There is absolutely a connection between what is happening in our mind and what is unfolding into our circumstances and environment. When you are helping a client sort through what needs to be discarded or reorganized in their home, you are also unlocking (symbolically) what needs to be discarded or reorganized in their mind. That’s an intense process for anyone. Perhaps, you might include a discussion about the feelings that might come up during the process in your initial consultation. It has been my experience and observation that people can handle and sort through their feelings much better when they understand why the feelings are coming up. I hope you’ll do a follow up post on this and let us know how any new approaches work. Many Blessings, S

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