Top Reasons Why Your House is a Mess

I love having friends over. Except for the part when I have to give a lame apology about why my house is a mess. People often think that because I'm an organizer, I must be some sort of neat freak. That's so not true. I got tired of making excuses. Here's what I found when I looked around my messy house.

  • Too much stuff. Less stuff in the house means less stuff to clean and maintain.

  • Stuff isn't in the right place. If something is consistently left where it doesn't belong, change where it belongs.

  • A clean house isn't a priority.* You get to choose how much of a priority it is to you.

And while I'm not a neat freak, I am practical. Here's an approach I take.

  1. Look around the space for "hotspots." A hotspot is a pile of stuff, things that are out of place, or overflowing their designated home.

  2. Try to figure out why the hotspot exists. For example: there's a pile of clothes on the bathroom floor. That's because that's where you take off your clothes after work.

  3. Change something that will remove the reason for the hotspot. You might move the laundry hamper from the bedroom to the bathroom or get a second hamper.

Yes, it can be that simple. Your mom always kept the laundry hamper in the bedroom next to your bureau. You did the same thing when you moved into your own house. But you may not change clothes near your bureau. Move the hamper. Sometimes we miss the obvious unless we're looking for it. No big deal. Done.

Other examples:

  • Hotspot: Clothes always end up on the top of the bureau instead of being put away in the bureau.

  • Check: The bureau drawers are probably too full. Pare down what you store there. (Do you really need every t-shirt you've ever been given?)


  • Hotspot: There's a heavy blanket of dust on all your surfaces, although it's hard to see for all the clutter. The problem may not be the dusting chore - it's likely the stuff you have to move first.

  • Check: How many items live on your flat surfaces. If there are more than three items on any one surface, weed them out until there are only three. You can likely deal with moving only three items to dust. If not, consider only one or two.


  • Hotspot: There's consistently trash left on the end table in the living room.

  • Check: Place a decorative trash can next to the end table.

The goal here is to make everything about as easy to put away in the right place as it is to leave it somewhere random. To do this, take a practical approach to the number of things you keep, and where you keep them.

Bonus tip: Keep sets of items in the same neutral color. All ivory dishes. All white bath towels. King sized sheets in gray and queen sheets in cream. It makes both decision-making and put away fast. It's quicker change colorful accessories to change the feel of the room, and a neutral color is easy on the eyes.


*I don't deal extensively with #3 in this article. You know that you should keep your living space clean to be healthy. If you choose not to, that's on you. But, I contend that if you work with the first two issues, you are going to have an easier time of dealing with the third.