4 Reasons for Clutter M.E.S.S.

M.E.S.S. stands for the following categories of possible problems.



  • You have intended to store something in a particular drawer, but because the drawer is broken or "sticky" so it won't open and close properly, you feel it's a hassle and don't bother.
  • The door sticks on the intended closet or cabinet, so you set it nearby saying, "just for now...", which seems to turn into never...
  • The shelf it goes on is warped, etc.

Emotional - This topic is simply too complicated to be addressed here in a single post, but go to FAQs for a brief introduction, and future posts will explore various emotional issues on a more detailed level.

This topic is very real, and serious. Emotional and psychological factors that result in cluttering or hoarding behaviors may be destroying someone's life, relationships, finances, etc. 

Occasionally someone voices to me--maybe jokingly, maybe sheepishly or even a little fearfully--the question of being "a hoarder". I believe this is a matter that requires professional attention, and that ultimately it is based on a deep spiritual need. Therefore, I highly recommend exploring the Clutterers Anonymous (CA) website. And, if you are willing to dig a little deeper, I recommend their brief quiz about clutter behavior. CA has face-to-face meetings as well as zoom meetings for those trying to grow and heal from a clutterer / hoarding lifestyle. 


Examples (obviously some of them may overlap one another and/or the "emotional" category): 

  • Household moves
  • Aging parents moving in
  • Adult children moving in/out
  • Changes in health status, chronic illness 
  • Family deaths/ births/ marriages/ divorce
  • Retirement or job change

System failure


  • No organizing system in place, such as a filing system or a clearly thought-out plan for where things are to "live" within the household 
  • Wrong organizing system in place; it isn't right for your personality style, other users, or the items themselves
  • Lack of storage space in the building (in reality, this is exceedingly rare in modern homes--the real problem is having excess possessions...)
  • Failure to clarify expectations for others in household. If there is no designated place for similar items, or that place is hard to manage for one reason or another, family members may be destined to failure in the attempt to stay organized.
  • Unwilling (or unable?) other household members
  As you may gather from this brief list, causes for disorganized environments can be pretty complicated to analyze, and finding solutions is not an instantaneous "fix". Even working with a professional organizer, sometimes it takes a couple of tries to figure out what works in a situation. 


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