Professional organizer explores relationship between clutter and mental health: ‘Education is so important … so there’s more empathy.’

“There is a deep level of guilt and shame when it comes to having clutter and not living in a functional home.”

Video Transcript

KAYLEEN KELLY: I think the majority of people don't know or understand the correlation and connection between mental health, trauma, and clutter. And that education is so important, so there's more empathy around the entire topic.


Hi, my name is Kayleen Kelly, I'm a professional organizer. What we do is we come in, and we work with people who are struggling with clutter and disorganization. We coach them through the process of decluttering and creating functional systems in their home. Chronic clutter is when someone has been struggling with clutter for a long period of time. It's typically spread throughout the home, and it's impacting that individual in a negative way on a daily basis.

There are two different sides of the industry. You have the aesthetic side, like the home edit, and then you have the behavioral side. When I first started the business, the clientele that I was attracting was really, really struggling with clutter and their mental health. Really, what I ran into was a lot of trauma. Clutter and trauma are very closely tied together.

What I have learned is there is a deep level of guilt and shame when it comes to having clutter and not living in a functional home. But there are so many reasons people end up in this situation. Mental health, physical health, life transitions, death of a loved one, having a child, ADHD, executive dysfunction, a stressful move And things add up and the clutter builds, and it gets to the point where we are just no longer in control.

Every client that I work with in every single home, we use the same exact method. I call it the core four method. It's four simple steps. Our first step is clear out. That doesn't mean to take everything out of the room. We're going to remove any trash and any items that do not belong in the space.

Step two is categorize. That's when you get your likes with likes and begin creating piles. This part is so important because you need to be able to see what you have in order to make confident decisions in step three, which is cut out. This is when you're doing the decluttering and you're purging your items. And for this step, what I really recommend is using my declutter three-second rule.

You work one category at a time. You're going to make a decision on each item. Try to make a decision in three seconds, but if you hesitate, it's an automatic keep. Doing it this way allows you to make quick, confident decisions but you don't regret anything by giving something up that you're not ready to let go of.

Step four is contain. So once you've eliminated all of the items you no longer need, that's when you're going to take a look at your available storage. Create a layout that's going to be functional for you. You want your items that you use regularly front and center. You want to make sure that you're using clear bins or that you have baskets with labels.

If you are struggling with clutter and you look around and you just feel like you can't dig yourself out, please, just know that you're not alone. Addressing your clutter and creating a functional home, it's not easy. Change, it requires a lot of change mentally, emotionally, habitually, but the rewards are endless.

If you just want to have a home that works for you instead of a home that you work for, don't hesitate to reach out to a professional. Don't hesitate to reach out to your friends and family if you need help.