Free Your Space: Your clutter or your Life

Ok, so big deal. So you have clutter. It’s not hurting anyone right?

Or…is it?



The unfortunate truth is that I work with people every day that put themselves at great risk of being injured due to the disorganization of their homes. Sometimes it is the inevitable injury that has actually caused them to pick up the phone. Other times, they are unaware of the fact that their clutter is already taking its toll on their health.

So, how can you know when it’s time to put your foot down and take a stand for yourself?

In an effort to help you to decide I will share five dangers that people can and do face when clutter takes over. If any of them ring true for you or your home, the time may be now.

One. Bodily Injury. Piles of paper, boxes, clothing and corded electronics, along with bags of miscellaneous “stuff” are, quite simply, a recipe for injury. You may think that you won’t fall – You say to yourself, I know my home. It may look messy, but I know where everything is. – But, consider this. It only takes one good trip to land you in a rehab center facing thousands of dollars of medical bills. I know, my clients have been there.

Two. Internal Health. Animal fur and dander, damp moldy areas, large amounts of dust, bug or rodent infestations – not just annoying maintenance issues, they are also health hazards. Each of these are noted asthma triggers and affect your lung health.

Three. Mental Health. Stress, frustration over looking for lost items, embarrassment, shame, anxiety and depression – all common issues that people share when talking about their battles with clutter.

Four. Structural Safety. Few structures last forever so, unless you’re living in a stone pyramid, your home most likely needs regular maintenance. Over time, electrical wiring needs to be updated, plumbing needs to be changed out, windows need replacing. When you are unable to reach certain areas of your home for long periods of time, don’t be surprised if you find a leak or some corrosion that you have long been unaware of.

Five. Blocked Exits. I have saved this for last and hate to bring this up but, unfortunately, it is the truth. Putting off clearing out your clutter for “someday” can actually cost your life. My family learned this the hard way when my nephew bought his first home – a three family house with 2 existing tenants, one of whom was a hoarder. Although my nephew followed all the home inspection rules and even brought in the Fire Marshal (who advised the hoarder-tenant that he had to clear his exit-ways), when the home caught fire the firefighters were unable to get the poor man out. Devastating for everyone, not least of all my 26-year-old nephew.

Bottom line: is your stuff worth all (or any) of this?



Allow me to answer for you: No. It’s not. Let go of the clutter and embrace your life instead.

* Annette Reyman is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO®) and President of its Greater Philadelphia Chapter. To contact her for organizing work, professional unpacking, productivity support, gift certificates or speaking engagements in the Greater Philadelphia area call 610-213-9559 or email her at Visit her website at and follow All Right Organizing on Facebook.

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