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What a Messy House Says About You and What To Do About It

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Are you tired of having a messy house? Is your home always in a state of disorganization?

Today we will explore

  • why a mess can cause frustration
  • reasons why a messy house can be “normal”
  • the psychology at work behind the clutter
  • the difference between messy and dirty
  • and how to clean it up.

Why A Messy House Causes Frustration

While the term messy sounds really negative – you might be surprised to find that some people are ok with disorganization. It doesn't bother them at all.

Other people can't stand the clutter.

And there are people from both camps that are more concerned about the message their home sends to visitors or outsiders than they are about the mess itself.

People That Are Ok With the Mess

There are two ends to each spectrum – some people don't mind a messy house while others insist on complete order – for those old enough to remember the show The Odd Couple, you know what I am talking about.

If you happen to be the person who doesn't mind the mess, you might still experience stress and frustration because the person that you live with isn't ok with it.

People Who are Inherently Neat

On the other hand, you might be a person who hates a messy house.

And while you might have the best intentions on keeping it orderly – the clutter starts to creep in.

Inevitably, when things are out of place, you start to lose important items, documents, etc underneath piles of paperwork or other stuff.

Basically, you can't find what you need when you need it.

And that can be really frustrating.

The Message that a Messy House Sends to Others

No matter where you fall on the neatness spectrum you may worry about the message that the state of your home sends to visitors or outsiders.

A messy house may even stop you from having friends or family over because you are embarrassed by the clutter.

Why a Messy House Can Be “Normal”

Two of the main reasons that homes become overwhelmed by mess are:

  1. we are too busy to devote time to organization, and
  2. we have too much stuff

All of us experience one or both situations almost daily.

In this article on Bustle – Kate Ecke, L.C.S.W says:

Our environments are a physical representation of our lives. When we are in chaos, so are our homes, work spaces and cars … Some people use organization as a way to gain back control over their lives.

Kate Ecke, L.C.S.W

Difference Between a Messy House and a Dirty House

However, it is important to note that there is a difference between messy and dirty.

If you let dirt and grime build up, especially in the kitchen and bath areas, it can affect not only your physical health but also the health of your family or child.

The Psychology of a Messy House

Sometimes, the root of the disorganization goes deeper than just being busy or having too much.

In certain circumstances the mess may result from issues where it is necessary to seek out professional help from a medical professional.

These issues can include things like depression, anxiety, hoarding disorder, and ADHD.

Depression and Anxiety

Symptoms of depression include low energy and motivation.

Weena Cullins (a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist) says it best in this quote from this article on Insider.com:

“If you can barely get out of the bed, it's unlikely that you have the energy to clean your room,”

Weena Cullins

Hoarding Disorder

People with hoarding disorder accumulate a lot of things over time and in extreme cases the volume of stuff takes over their homes.

According to the Mayo Clinic

Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them.

Mayo Clinic

As with other psychological conditions, hoarders need professional intervention to help them manage their situation.

ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

People with ADHD may also have trouble cleaning a messy house.

You may not realize it but decluttering takes a lot of focus.

Often you will find items in one area of your home that belong in another. As you go to put those away it is so easy to get distracted by what is going on in the other space.

Before you realize it you have a bigger mess in both areas.

Setting Priorities

Before cleaning up a messy house, it is a good idea to make a list of priorities.

I like to write these down and use them as a guideline for the whole decluttering process.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What area of my home is causing me the biggest concern right now?
  • What else is going on in my life right now that requires my time and attention?
  • How much time do I want to spend each month/day/week on decluttering?

You can make it a priority to clean the room that is causing you the biggest problem first. Sometimes this little success will give you the motivation to continue onto the next area.

It is also important to look at what else is going on in your life when you set your organizing priorities.

If you have a big project happening at work or some family situations to deal with, then you might not have enough time to organize your house all at once.

You need to be realistic in your expectations about what you can truly accomplish – you want to set yourself up for success.

How to Clean a Messy House on Your Own Terms

Now that you have set your priorities – you can create a schedule outlining what you want to organize each day or week.

These are ten organizing tasks that I try to do daily to keep the clutter under control.

Aside from that, I usually list out three “must do” items for each session.

On a weekday evening I might pick something small like a drawer or a box of stuff to organize.

But on a weekend, when I have more time, I might work on a bigger area like the linen closet or a bedroom.

When you have finished your list – you are done for the day and can move on to doing other things in your life.

If you still have time left that you can devote to organizing – pick something that you can finish in the time that you have available.

By being consistent with the process you will make progress.

How to Quickly Clean a Messy House

Now, slow and steady might win the race, but there are times when you need to your house to be clean and you need it done fast.

Like when your in-laws are stopping by within the hour …

On these occasions, you can speed clean your house – but know that you will still have work to do when they leave.

Here are a few strategies that can be useful.

Set a Timer

By setting a timer you are allowing yourself a fixed amount of time to declutter a particular area or room.

During this time, only work on the space that you have assigned yourself and work to finish it before the timer ends.

This can help you stay focused and achieve what you consider to be “good enough” before you move on to the next space.

Use a Laundry Basket

My go to emergency decluttering tool is an empty laundry basket.

When I need to clean up in a pinch – I grab an empty laundry basket fill it with anything that doesn't belong in the space that I am decluttering.

This technique is great for cleaning off the kitchen counters.

I can tuck the laundry basket away until I have some dedicated time for putting away the items inside. Then I just carry the basket around the house putting things away until the basket is empty.

The important thing here is that you have to be disciplined enough to make time to deal with the items in the basket.

Vacuum and Dust

A quick vacuum and dusting of surfaces can make your home look neat and tidy and give it a fresh feel.

If you are expecting company – grab the vacuum cleaner, this one step goes a long way.

I have been using a Shark Navigator upright with the no hair wrap technology like this one. I love the no hair wrap feature because the brush roll stays clean.

Is a Messy House Bad?

While you may feel embarrassed because your house is a mess – the true message that it sends is that you are a busy person and you probably have more stuff than you have space for.

If the mess is caused by or results in psychological symptoms you should consult with a medical professional.

But under normal circumstances the first step towards a solution is to dedicated time in your daily schedule to clean up the mess.

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One Comment

  1. I love how you make the designation between folks who don’t mind the mess and those who are really bothered. It’s so interesting how differently we are all wired! This is a good, comprehensive post about messiness in general.

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