The Cost of Clutter

By Pamela Wong

Pamela is a Trained Professional Organizer based in Oakville, Ontario and is the owner of Zen N Organized. She helps homeowners and small business owners transform their homes and home offices into organized spaces. She has a practical, non-judgemental approach to organizing. Her objective is to create functional and harmonious spaces for her clients.

Stacks of coins with a clock in the background

I recently saw a commercial for an air freshener product and it asks, “Have you turned “nose blind”?” This got me thinking that many of my clients have turned “clutter blind”. They are so used to having so many things around them that over time, they have become “blind” to the visual clutter. They no longer see the piles of paper around their desks, the messes on their counter tops and the clothes strewn all over the house.

Cost of Clutter

If you are thinking, “What’s the big deal of having clutter around me?”, then here are a few reasons and costs associated with clutter.

1. Time

How much time could you save in the morning if you don’t have to look for your phone, keys or sunglasses? How much could you save if you can easily retrieve your files on the computer or filing cabinet?  Can you find the seasonal decorations and items in boxes effortlessly?

How much time would you save if everything you needed was exactly where you expect them to be?

2. Money

How often do you hear “Mom, I can’t find…!” It could be anything from scissors to their homework to their favourite toy. Sometimes, your kids may need something urgently, but since you can’t find it anywhere in the house, you end up ordering the item on Amazon!  Buying duplicates or triplicates of the same item is more common than you think.

Imagine the extra money you spend on buying these extra items.  You may also need to buy baskets and bins to store them. Years of accumulating these extra things and down the road you will need to spend more time or money to hire someone to help you declutter what’s built up.

Various items scattered about in the basement

3. Psychological and Emotional Effects

Clutter can bring up a lot of different emotions.  You may be stressed and overwhelmed as you are not sure how to conquer the built-up items.

You may feel guilty because you had spent a lot of money buying these things and so you are not getting rid of them and don’t want to be wasteful.

You may feel ashamed to invite friends and family over because you have lots of physical clutter in your home, and nowhere for your guests to sit comfortably. You may feel embarrassed as you are late for meetings or even missing scheduled appointments.

Visual clutter sends a message to your brain saying, “Hey, you have work to do.” This unfinished work causes more stress and negative emotions.

4. Energy

Physical clutter serves as a constant reminder and it drains the energy out of you.  You are losing sleep and are chronically tired. You are overstimulated by the clutter and can’t seem to focus.

Your home is not the sanctuary that you are hoping for.  It is not the refuge that you need. As a result, you feel sluggish and are less productive.

5. Missing Out

Clutter is blinding you from seeing what is truly important in your life. Instead of spending time with what truly matters (e.g. quality time with your children or time for self-care), you are worrying about the stuff that’s stacked up in every corner and the piles on the kitchen counter.

You are missing out on the real treasure.

A yellow lounge chair with a floor lamp on one side, a side table on the other. A vase on top of the side table and a picture is hung behind the chair on the wall. A partial tv, cabinet and a rug can be seen.


If you are ready to kickstart your journey to decluttering, then check out this post: Decluttering – Where to Start?.

I hope this quote will give you some motivation to get started:

“You are not what you own.  Storing all those books doesn’t make you any smarter, it just makes you life more cluttered.” ~Francine Jain

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