How Disorganization and Clutter Can Take a Toll on Mental Health

I’m busy. It’s difficult to find time to get everything done that needs to be done. I like to pick up after myself, at least in theory, as I do various tasks, but don’t always feel I can take the time. I get focused on the one, two, three, four, more? things on my list for whatever amount of time I have, and ignore the dishes piling up in the sink, the clean laundry waiting to be put away, the pile of papers that keeps growing, full of things I keep setting aside to deal with later. I rush through a room, tell the kids to get their stuff off the table, off the floor, off the furniture. Even when they do, there’s another wave of LEGOs, drawings, pencils, games, discarded socks…

What little time I save by overlooking or setting things aside in the moment, I lose more.

When I have to stop to catch my breath, it’s like all the piles are about to topple over on me. They crowd the space I need to reorient, and steal the air I need to breathe.

And I can’t find where I set down my pencil, the scissors, my hairbrush, my purse, my keys, the jury survey I need respond to…


I crave order. But what I have is… not. I understand the theory of organized chaos. But, sooner or later, chaos gets the upper hand. Most of us just have too much stuff.

I struggle with depression. The clutter, and the mess, don’t help.

How Disorganization and Clutter Can Take a Toll on Mental Health

Disorganization and clutter are distracting. No matter how much we try to focus on the job at hand, excessive stuff keeps us from giving our full attention to anything else. It looms over us, sometimes literally, and we know that we need to deal with it.

They’re overwhelming. At some point, we’re going to have to work our way through the set-aside-to-deal-with pile. We’re going to have to dig through a pile, piles, to find something we need.

With all that distraction and overwhelm, disorganization and clutter reduce our productivity. You can tell yourself you’re getting a lot done simply because you’re busy, but you’d get more done, with less stress, if you had less mess.

Another reason disorganization and clutter limit productivity is because we’re more likely to misplace things in it. How often is a task slowed down by not being able to find the right tool or paper or whatever is necessary?

All these factors also sap our creativity.

Disorganization and clutter reach a point they’re embarrassing. Do you dread having friends, or anyone else, stop by unexpectedly and see your mess? Would they find an open piece of furniture to sit on?

Along with embarrassment comes shame. You believe you should be able to get a handle on things and take control of your space. But, somehow, your space, or at least the things that are overfilling it, are controlling you.

Disorganization and clutter are frustrating. When you can’t find a flat space to set your mug, or fold your laundry, or sort your papers…

It’s exhausting to be surrounded by disorganization and clutter. How much space we need to allow our minds to relax varies, but we all need space. Awareness of disorganization and clutter keeps your brain telling you there’s stuff that needs to be done. You can never feel finished.

Trying to keep up when your stuff is a mess, and you have too much of it, steals time from better, more important and worthwhile things in life.

Feeling Overwhelmed by all that Stuff?

The first step in organizing to improve your environment and outlook, is to get rid of excess stuff. Easier said than done, but worth it.

I have another bag of stuff to donate, sitting in my front hall, waiting to be delivered to our local thrift store. More space for me, and proceeds benefit the food pantry. Win-win.

What’s one practical step you can take to limit disorganization and clutter? It’s good for your mental health!

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