Alison Kero

5 Types of Clutter That Can Affect Your Health (and What to Do About it)



It's fair to assume that most of us look at clutter and just think of it as a pile of stuff. No more, no less and certainly not harmful to us. However, when left unchecked clutter can actually be extremely harmful to us in a variety of different ways. Let's take a look at the top 5 and then find out what can be done to keep us all healthy, happy and more productive.

1. Physical Clutter: This is the tangible clutter we can all see when we enter a home or office. In this case I'm really only speaking about the physical health effects that this type of clutter will have on us versus the mental. Over time, physical clutter attracts and collects dirt, dust, mold, mildew and bug infestations and clutter can do this all while just lying there. It doesn't even take a lot of clutter to get to this point, even a small amount of clutter lying around long enough will eventually attract dirt and dust and yes, a few bugs as well. Left unchecked for even longer or allowing the piles to grow larger, these small problems can quickly turn into very big health issues – from breathing difficulties and headaches to various diseases in the lungs. Let's not even get into the issue of how expensive it can be to remove bug infestations, mold and mildew from our homes.

Physical clutter can cause a lot of health issues when left untouched. Protect yourself and your family by removing clutter and cleaning regularly.

Physical clutter can cause a lot of health issues when left untouched. Protect yourself and your family by removing clutter and cleaning regularly.

What to do: Put you and your health first by removing the clutter. Pick up one item at a time and choose whether or not to keep it. If you keep it, put it where it belongs. Once the pile of clutter has been eliminated, clean the dirt, mold, etc as best you can. Do not allow food or anything wet or damp to become part of the clutter as this will attract mold, mildew and bug infestations much more quickly. If you do spot mold and mildew, clean the area as best you can and call in a professional if you're having difficulties. Designate a spot for everything you own (because it's when something doesn't have a home that clutter starts) and make sure you put everything away after use, this will reduce or eliminate those pockets of clutter.

2. Emotional Clutter: Yes, there are emotional reasons you're holding on to items you don't like, use or need anymore. There are also emotional reasons why there continues to be piles of clutter and disorganization even when you try to make changes. The entire reason we buy anything is because we are purchasing an emotion, a feeling. We buy the minivan because we feel that buying that particular brand will keep our family safe. We buy the sports car because our feeling tell us we're rich and cool by owning that car and we'll attract beautiful people in that car. We buy jeans because they make us feel rugged or sexy when wearing them. So when we hold on to something long after it's useful date has passed, it usually means we still are holding on to the original feeling that item gave us and we're not ready to part with the feeling. It can also mean that we aren't ready or possibly just not aware of how much our emotions and feelings have on our decision making abilities or we find it difficult to deal with emotions, even if they are only an emotion in relation to a pair of jeans. Keeping old items are also a great way to distract ourselves from what we aren't enjoying seeing showing up in our current lives. The old stuff keeps us stuck in the past filled with what we think are happier memories than what we feel we can create in the present moment.

Feelings won't kill you but avoiding them might. 

Feelings won't kill you but avoiding them might. 

What to do: Face your feelings! I love decluttering because it's the safest and easiest way I know to get in touch with my feelings and be honest with myself. I also empowers me with the ability to choose for myself what I think is best to keep in my life. The best part is that when I decide to let a sweater or book go, I don't get a phone call or run into them on the street with them wanting to know why I let them go. Once it's gone, it's usually out of your mind forever, so it's guilt free, if you allow it to be. It's also important to realize that with most of what you're keeping, you're keeping out of some form of guilt, shame or fear. Once you choose to let an item go that is associated with a negative emotion, you can free yourself from feeling as many of these negative emotions. The more you allow those negative emotions to be taken out of your life, the better your life starts looking and the better, healthier and freer you start feeling.

3. Your Wallet: Disorganization is expensive! Why, because these types of events tend to happen: 1. Money is misplaced or often lost 2. The same items are purchased more than once because it gets lost once inside the home 3. Rash purchases are made but rarely are those items returned or discarded 4. Additional storage is purchased and quickly becomes a place where items go but are never used or seen again.

No matter how you slice it, disorganization and clutter cost you money. It's not uncommon for clients to find money in unopened mail – (to the tune of several thousand dollars in a few cases) and yet piles of mail is frequently a problem for many people. Clients misplace items often and are forced to repurchase it – like my friend who now owns 7 crock pots but owns only one lid. Many people think adding additional storage to their lives will save them but it then turns into inactive storage and 12 years later all the stuff is still sitting in the space, dusty and unattended and thousands of dollars have been spent. Disorganization also creates an environment where decision making becomes harder so often rash purchases are made and then out of embarrassment, shame and/or guilt, the item is kept– sometimes as a punishment to themselves - with the person erroneously thinking that by keeping the item, it will continue to remind them of their so-called "bad deed" and will help them refrain from doing it again. Unfortunately, that tactic never works because it's built around shame so both the shame and the clutter continue to grow.


What to do: Nothing was ever solved by adding additional shame, guilt or fear to the problem. In fact Einstein said that you can't change a problem with the same energy you created the problem with - so stop judging yourself and your past decisions because there's nothing you can do to change the past. You can, however, change the future and your present by giving yourself a break, accepting that you did, in fact, make some not-so-great purchases in the past and then choosing to tackle the clutter item by item, sorting through the clutter and learning how to make better, self love based decisions for yourself. Half the time just realizing what actions you're taking and how you feel as you do them is enough to help you start making new choices, so be aware of how you're spending your money and on what – are your purchases keeping you happy, healthy and more productive or not? Don't overthink - the more simpler you keep this process, the easier it will be to do it right the first time.

4. Your Time: You spend time going back to the store to purchase an item you couldn't find anywhere in your home but know you own. You spend 20 extra minutes looking for something you “just put down right in front of you”. You end up feeling exasperated, frustrated, silly, stupid, annoyed, and angry often as a result of misplacing items. You make a decision and then spend hours wondering if you've made the right decision. People get annoyed with you for showing up later or stop spending time with you because you're always tardy. Work feels like it's never ending and you never seem to have enough time to finish anything so you're always feeling behind and stressed. Time is always feeling wasted and you wonder if the choices you make are helping or hindering your path in life.


    What to do: Time isn't something you can get back, so it's important to make sure you're spending your time in a way that helps you be more productive, happy and/or gives you energy. My advice is to use these three ideas together: 1. Make good, self love based decisions to help you find more time in a busy schedule - this usually means getting rid of activities or projects that aren't enhancing your life to make room for activities and projects that do. 2. Declutter to help you gain more time by eliminating unnecessary items in your home and office. Less stuff, less decisions to make or distractions to be had 3. Organize your space to help create a system to easily find and use whatever you need. Lastly, make this process easy on yourself and your time. Take the easiest, quickest route to work, hire others to help you out, stop doing things that waste your time, money and effort and you'll see you have extra time, money and energy by cutting out the non-essential, non-energy giving clutter in your life.



      5. Your Energy: Can you make clear, concise decisions that are respected by others? When your decisions aren't respected by others, do you feel drained or discouraged? Are you exhausted every day when you go to bed? How about when you wake up? What about on the weekends? Do you feel as though you have the energy to do anything fun? When is the last time you had actual fun? Have you stopped exercising because you're tired? Do you feel like you stopped really caring about anything lately and you mostly wonder what the point of all of it is?

      If you answered “yes” to most of these chances are, you are exhausted. This is partly because you aren't taking in enough nutrients, love and self care to rejuvenate you but partly because you are giving so much and not receiving enough back that you are just depleted. You simply have nothing to give and therefore you cannot give when you are depleted energy-wise.


        What to do: Take care of yourself. Schedule what you can around times you know you're most energetic. Eat real food. Get plenty of rest and go to bed at the same time each night. Don't engage with people who suck your energy from you. Make decisions that make you happy rather than seeming to crush the energy out of you. Give back to yourself and allow others to do the same. Lastly, share rather than give, this way both parties always walk away with something.

        Making changes doesn't happen in 2 minutes and sometimes it takes a few tries before you start seeing results. By making small, self love based decisions, it helps you create a happier, healthier life for yourself by taking small steps that lead you to an even greater life. Choosing to surround yourself with positive people and things, making sure you support yourself and have others around to support you will help you stick to your goals and decreases the possibility of sabotaging your efforts. If or when you do, don't judge, don't fear and don't resist, just love yourself and keep moving forward.


        Long before decluttering expert, writer & speaker Alison Kero started her first organizing business in 2004, she searched for ways to make life easier. After much research she realized it came down to 2 simple organizing techniques: first to use self-love as her decision making tool so she can easily determine what she likes, uses and needs in her life and second to set boundaries so she doesn’t sabotage her efforts. Alison also recognized the importance of figuring out her priorities so that she could determine what she considered valuable to her and what wasn’t. Alison first started with physical clutter but soon realized she could transfer those same simple techniques to every aspect of her life; whether it's who to spend time with, which activities to do or what objects to bring home, Since implementing her new decluttering system, Alison has found she now enjoys; increased energy, improved productivity and overall greater contentment thanks to her organizational system and she loves teaching this easy system to her clients. To reach Alison visit:



        How to Tell if You're Having a Toxic Relationship with Your Stuff

        Have you ever been dumped and then kept something that your ex gave you? Like the mixed tape they made for you that now makes you cry every time you hear it and feel like you'll be alone forever? Keeping items that make you cry miserably mean you aren't currently having a healthy relationship with your stuff. In fact, it's probably a part of the reason you're still're literally holding on to your last relationship and until you let go, there's no room for anyone else.


        Most of us don't realize the role our belongings have in our mental health and many of us are too busy to notice. However, if you knew that getting rid of items that invoke negative emotions could have positive affects on your overall life, health and attitude, wouldn't you want to know how? I've chosen the most common negative emotions our clutter can cause us to feel, along with common scenarios that most of us have experienced at least once in our lives. I then followed up with a series of questions designed to get you to start noticing how you actually feel when any of these scenarios play themselves out in real life. The more you realize the affect these emotions have on you, the more likely it is you'll want to experience positive changes in your life and will take the steps to implement them.


        Cluttered Closet


        Scenario: You walk through your door at the end of a long work day and you'd really like to relax except the coat closet is so crammed with stuff that you spend 5 minutes looking for an available hanger and then another 2 minutes trying to find enough space to cram that coat into the closet. Half the time it falls and ends up on the floor forcing you to spend another 5 minutes on the way out in the morning trying to relocate that same now dusty coat. You also tend to fall over the myriad shoes lying haphazardly on the floor and the piles of mail now make you feel like you life at the post office rather than your own home.


        Feelings: Do you feel immediate pressure on your chest or somewhere else in your body when you envision this? Can you take a deep breath? Can you imagine just wanting to come home and relax and does this feel possible in this environment? Does this feel chaotic to you? As if you can't ever catch up to whatever or wherever you'd like to be in life? Do you feel happy? Does this process/system seem simple? Does it feel quick or easy to you to grab a hanger and hang up a coat in an overstuffed closet? Do you feel empowered or in control? Does this make you feel energized?




          Scenario: You have an important meeting starting in less than an hour and it takes at least 40 minutes in good traffic to get there. You're all ready to leave when you realize you can't find your keys. You put them down just a few moments ago and now you can't find them. You spend another 20 minutes searching for your keys and finally find them under a pile of papers and rush out the door hoping to get to your meeting in time.


          Feelings: Do you feel angry at the situation? Kind of stupid that you can't find your keys? Annoyed with yourself for being disorganized? A little frightened that you're running late for something important for such a silly reason? Do you feel like you can take deep breaths while you're panicking? What about clear thoughts, are those happening when you're panicking? Perhaps you're feeling out of control of your own life? Do you feel that even though you've got a good job, you're somehow lacking because you can't do something as simple as find your keys in a short amount of time?


            Shame over Clutter


            Scenario: A new friend decides to stop by unannounced to drop off a gift to you. Your home is filled with clutter and it's been awhile since you've been able to do a deep cleaning...mostly due to the clutter and feeling you're lacking in time. They insist upon coming in to watch you open the gift.


            Feelings: Do you feel embarrassed by the mess? Are you excited to have the friend show up or are you wishing they would leave so they don't see any more of the mess? Do you think your friend will judge you? Somehow think less of you? Do you feel less worthy letting others see how you are currently living? Do you think keeping your home this way makes you less valuable? Do you feel like you should be doing more but you don't? Do you feel lazy because you're not taking action? Do you feel proud of how you're keeping your home?


              Often guilt makes us feel a whole range of emotions - especially if we haven't resolved our issues yet.

              Often guilt makes us feel a whole range of emotions - especially if we haven't resolved our issues yet.


              Scenario: Your father's old golf clubs sit in the corner attracting both dust and random items that are now hanging from and covering said golf clubs. In fact, it's now so covered with stuff that you can barely even see it's there anymore. You don't golf and you had a difficult relationship with your father but loved him so while you will never use the clubs you feel as though you should keep them as a memorial to him.


              Feelings: Does covering up the golf clubs make you feel better than seeing them outright would? Do you feel stuck feeling as though you “should” keep them even though deep down inside you'd love to be free of them? Do they feel more like shackles than a memorial to him? Does looking at them make you think of the good times you had with him? Or do more unpleasant memories come up when you think of him?


                Fear often gets us stuck and unable to move. The more we keep decluttering simple, the easier it is to move through the fear and into the good.

                Fear often gets us stuck and unable to move. The more we keep decluttering simple, the easier it is to move through the fear and into the good.


                Scenario: You'd like to sort through your closet and get it organized but you seem to sway back and forth between starting the process but never finishing or just not doing it at all. The closet is disorganized and filled with too many clothes, most of which you don't wear and you struggle to locate the items you really do enjoy wearing.


                Feelings: What is wrong with me? Why can't I get organized? What if I end up with no clothes? What if I need something right after I donate it? What if I can't find the same type of outfit again? What if it comes back in style again? What if it ends up being worth something someday? What if I lose the weight? What if I gain the weight? What if even though it doesn't fit right, I'll somehow be able to have it look right someday? What if the person who gave it to me gets mad that I got rid of it? What if I can find a way to finally get that stain out but I won't know because I donated it?


                  The reason I want everyone to be in touch with their feelings is because this is how you create the change you desire. If even one of those above “feelings scenarios” rang true for you, wouldn't you want to find a way to prevent yourself from feeling that way again? What if something as simple as creating a new system could be that solution for you? How would that make you feel? Envision yourself coming home and having 1 spot for your keys. You drop the keys off and go about your home life. Now imagine yourself getting ready to leave the next day and everything is the same as it always is, except this time you know you can go back to that designated key spot and find your keys immediately. Imagine grabbing those keys and walking out the door...on time and without feeling frustrated and distracted.


                  Now think about how you not leaving your house frustrated would affect your entire day. Change doesn't have to happen all at once. Organizing is a process, it's about making small, self love changes in your life for the rest of your life. You will always have new choices, new clothing and new distractions but when you make small, self love decisions, they begin to become manageable and even enjoyable.


                  Whether you choose to make the decision to declutter on your own, ask a friend to help or hire a decluttering expert, make sure to surround yourself with those who can truly support your efforts with love, guidance and the freedom to make your own choices.



                  How to Conquer Your Never-Ending To Do List

                  Endless to do lists that exhaust and overwhelm you, and keep you away from friends and family should be considered chaotic clutter. 

                  Endless to do lists that exhaust and overwhelm you, and keep you away from friends and family should be considered chaotic clutter. 

                  A lot of us keep to do lists. One that seems to grow longer, rather than shorter day by day. A list that never seems to give you the satisfaction of being finished. It can seem exhausting, frustrating and only those who live and die by to do lists will ever truly thrive. The rest of us just try to do our best and ignore the feelings of hopelessness slowly seeping into our lives. Sounds depressing, right? Luckily, there is an easier way...

                  focus on what matters

                  1. Write a list of your priorities.

                  What is really, truly important to you? Your health? Your children? Your spouse? Your career? What are the things on your list that make you feel happy, energetic, productive or have real consequences (like not picking up medication on time)? Once you know what's important to you, it's a lot easier to identify what needs to be accomplished immediately and what can wait.

                  2. What can you outsource or delegate?

                  Many tasks can often be done by someone else. Whether that means telling your kid that he's now responsible for weeding the garden, asking your spouse or roommate to do their share of the housework or hiring a cleaning company - often we're taking on too many to do's at once. If you don't like the activity, don't have time or simply aren't good at the task, it's always smarter and easier for you to outsource or delegate it to someone else. Asking for help doesn't mean you're weak or helpless. No one is superhuman and we all need help. The most successful, happiest people simply surround themselves with a support team that helps them accomplish their goals...sometimes that's just by taking a task away from them so they have more time to focus. 

                  3. What can you postpone or simply throw out altogether?

                  Many things don't necessarily need to be done immediately. If there is food on the table, a place for you to sleep and clothes on your back, usually that means you're doing well. However, if you wait an extra day to do your laundry, sew on a button or mow the lawn, probably nothing catastrophic will occur. Let it go for now and do it when you have the time and/or energy.

                  Ditching projects or objects that you don't like/love/enjoy can help you increase your productivity and happiness levels!

                  Ditching projects or objects that you don't like/love/enjoy can help you increase your productivity and happiness levels!

                  In fact, sometimes you can completely let go of a project altogether. Are you really going to fix that broken table leg or would just buying a new table be an easier solution? What about that shirt with the stain on it that's been sitting in your closet for a month? By now the stain has set really well and you're probably better off buying a new one. Sometimes you just have to be honest with yourself that a to do seemed doable at the time but is either no longer feasible or a priority any longer. Let it go. You'll feel better.

                  4. Pick your battles. 

                  This is your life, your time and the decisions you make is going to affect what happens next so make good decisions. Sometimes it's smarter and easier to make choices to take on less in our lives so we can have more of what we, happiness and a productive life and maybe even some time for a little fun!

                  Not all of us are natural organizers. If you know you'd benefit from learning some new skills that can transform your life or think you may need the guidance and support of a decluttering expert helping and encouraging you along on your new life path then visit: to help you get....


                  Why Perfectionism is the Enemy of Organzing


                  When you imagine an organized home do you picture it where everything is pristine, in its place and there's not even a speck of dust or an out-of-place pencil in the place?

                  When you think of a professional organizer, do you have a picture of a person who always does everything right and lives in a space even Martha Stewart would be jealous of?

                  Does this make you feel like you don't even have a prayer to get organized and you've tried before and it failed so why bother even trying?

                  Do you know why your previous efforts have failed? Simply because perfectionism and organizing don't mix. Perfectionism is just a great way to sabotage your own efforts and give up. What I love about organizing is that it's about finding out who you are right now underneath all the clutter. It's about finding your voice and your true and being yourself and each person has their own version of what that is. It's also about making your life easier, not more complicated. With these thoughts in mind, I wanted to share with you some thoughts that I think end up convincing people to never start organizing but if you knew the truth, you just might think you can:

                  1. I know where everything is and can find it within a minute or two.

                  This is mostly true- the reason I do this is because I don't like wasting time searching for my stuff but that doesn't mean I know exactly where everything is to the point of military precision. I know the general area because I put similar items together so if it's something I rarely use, it will take me a moment or two to find it. That's okay. It's when it takes you 10 or more minutes that you're wasting time and energy. I just don't like feeling frustrated when I can't find something so I choose to create systems that help me find what I need easily. You can too and it won't be hard.

                  2. There is zero clutter in my home.

                  Ha! Once again, ha! As I write this, there is clutter on my coffee table that will probably stay there for another few days. Why? Because I'm still using all of the items and because I don't care. It doesn't look horrible, it doesn't stress me out and I'm not expecting visitors. Organizing is about finding a comfort level for ME and those I live with, not for someone else who doesn't live with me to put their judgments on what I choose to surround myself with and how much of it I choose to keep. I choose to organize because at the bottom of it, I find the best of me and that is something I can easily live with and feel happy about. 

                  3. There is only one way to organize.

                  No, absolutely not and if that were true, I'd never have become an organizer because I'd be bored out of my mind with the lack of creativity. Learning the tools of organizing means you find ways to look for systems to set up so that you can make life easier for yourself and you don't have to repeat the same process over and over. It also means that you learn to become more in tune with your priorities and you choose what matters most to you and leave the rest without feeling guilty. At the end of the day, you find the true you at the bottom of your clutter and you keep what matters to you and learn how to safely, happily and without guilt, let the rest go.

                  4. I'll have to give up what I love.

                  Here's what you actually have to give up: patterns and habits that sabotage you from achieving success, the stress and frustration of not finding something, losing time and money because you couldn't find that thing you wanted, feeling stressed and overwhelmed in your own home, and looking at things you really dislike but keep for some reason. My method is about keeping what you love, while letting go of whatever isn't serving you because it leads to happiness, increased energy and a way less stressful, difficult life. That's why I stick with it because I don't like complicating my life anymore than it already is. It's that simple.

                  choose joy

                  While the thought of clearing out clutter may be daunting to many of you, it's really a matter of knowing some basic first steps towards creating a brand new life. It's about deciding once and for all that you're more important than your stuff and it's about reclaiming your time, money and choosing you. Let me ask you this: would you rather be on a tropical island right now enjoying yourself or back at home trying to locate your passport? If you need more help, more information or just like visiting websites: