Clutter & Anxiety

Its not just you, millions of people around the world find that physical clutter in the home, causes anxiety. According to Psychologist, Sherrie Bourg Carter, “Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workspaces and ourselves. Messy homes and workspaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives.”




Below are 8 major reasons why Carter believes this:



  • Clutter overwhelms us because it causes excessive stimuli so our senses go into overdrive
  • It distracts us from other things we’d like to focus on
  • It makes it harder to mentally and physically relax
  • It signals to our minds that our work is never done
  • It also causes anxiety because we have to think about how we are going to clean everything up
  • It can impede productivity and creativity
  • It makes it harder for us to find what we need and takes up space for doing other necessary things on our list


The Clutter Effect

There is research that suggests that when you do take the time to declutter or streamline your surroundings, whether it be your workspace, living space, etc it can help clear up your mind. You may find your equally cluttered thoughts are traded in for relief and happieness. Along with a cluttered space, hoarding and holding onto things you dont want to let go of, stuffing them into any area you can find, this leaves you victim to “The Clutter Effect.”  “The Clutter Effect” is when you experience stress, anxiety and are overwhelmed due to the cluttered environment to the point your quality of life can be threatened and your mental and emotional health can struggle.


The good news?

Stress and anxiety caused by clutter can be eliminated. Here are some tips to help you conquer the clutter in your own home:

  1. Clean up your mess right after you make it. If it is going to take less than 2 minutes, do it right away.
  2. Get your whole family in on helping declutter the home. Explain that ensued toys, stuffies or clothing is going to other families in need.
  3. Give everything a home. Group like items together. Items that are used more frequently keep more accessible, items that are not, don’t need the prime real estate in your home.


Cant do it alone? We can help!

Real Estate and the Professional Organizer

Moving can be an exciting time for your sellers. It can also be overwhelming, exhausting and frustrating. Realtors play a vital role in helping to alleviate some of that stress buying and selling a home can cause. One of the ways Realtors can help their clients is by hiring a Professional Organizer who can help the process run so much more smoothly and efficiently. Here’s how!

Setting up systems

A Professional Organizer will be able to help a client set up a system for going through items and deciding what needs to go, what needs to stay and what needs to be packed away for the move. There is no point in paying someone to move clutter from one house to the next. Start fresh in the new home with only the items that they truly love and need. Moving is a great time to purge and get rid of unwanted items.

Keeping track of packed or stored possessions      

Imagine the chaos that can ensue when clients are randomly throwing items in boxes with no rhyme or reason? Unpacking will surely be just as chaotic. mugs and frames, pillows and dvd’s? Make the process run smoother by having a Professional Organizer work alongside your clients to create a streamlined moving process. A Professional Organizer can box up the things that are not needed right now, and inventory the contents so that they can find everything after the open house or in their new home.

Unpacking in the new home  

Imagine your clients spending their first day in their new home with most of the contents neatly placed and organized? A Professional Organizer can do this for your clients. Send them to a hotel for the night and have a professional team come in and set up some of the main areas of the home. Some realtors will present their clients with a gift certificate for organization at the end of the transaction, this would be such a thoughtful and unique gift for having your clients trust you with what is most likely the biggest purchase of their life.

Introduction to Minimalism (Challenge)

Below is a list of one day tasks to help introduce you (and me!) to minimalist living. If you want to live a simpler life, more intentional life with less stuff but more time and energy for the people and things you love, incorporate this small challenge into your life.

The only rules for this challenge is to do them everyday. The order doesn’t matter so pick a task that will work for you on the day!

  1. Stay offline for one day
  2. Meditate for 15 minutes (check out youtube for great meditation channels)
  3. Don’t buy anything for 24 hours
  4. Turn off useless notifications on your phone
  5. no tv all day, read instead
  6. go for a walk
  7. create a relaxing night time routine
  8. start a journal
  9. carve out 1 hour to do something for yourself
  10. leave a whole day unplanned and decide to only do things that day that bring you joy

keeping the clutter out

We always talk about decluttering and living minimally but how exactly are we supposed to maintain that way of life? Below are some simple and effective ways to help maintain your decluttered home

Go paperless! Drastically reduce the amount of paper that comes into your home by going paperless. Most bills can be sent electronically and even provide you with a small discount for doing so. Not only does it reduce the paper in your home, but it is much more environmentally friendly.

Follow the “one thing in, one thing out” rule. If you’re looking to purchase a new pair of shoes or a new book, consider replacing it instead of adding to the collection. Keeping this train of thought will help prevent a massive collection from taking up space in your home.

-It’s not Free if you don’t need it. People often get caught up in the sales and promotions that stores advertise, making you feel the need to rush over and buy, buy, buy. “It’s on sale so its a great deal” so “we better stock up!” But if you don’t need it, then you shouldn’t buy it. 70% off of nothing is $0, you could choose to spend nothing instead.

-Have a permanent donation box. Keep a box in your home, perhaps in the garage or laundry room where you can easily place items that you no longer need. Think clothes that your kids have grown out of, kitchen items you notice you dont use or books that you have already read. Once this box becomes full, (put it in your front seat so that you don’t forget it) and drive over to your local donation centre.

Just say NO. Are you on the receiving end of hand-me-downs you don’t want or need?  Do you have friends that insist on “gifting” you with their kids old toys? Saying No can be polite and tactful but also impactful so that you aren’t constantly the dumping ground for others. “Thank you so much for thinking of us, but we have what we need and are looking to pair down a bit as we are running out of room” is one option…Received a gift you don’t want? To be polite, accept it graciously, and if you are like me it goes in the donate pile the same day. If you prefer to have it in your home a bit longer in fear that person will know you got rid of it, use it once in front of them AND THEN donate it. After all, it is YOUR home and you can decide what goes in it. Just because someone bought something for you, doesn’t mean you have to keep it. You’re under no obligation to hang onto an object that doesn’t serve you.

Dont let the little things add up. This rule is meant for those items that tend to add up overtime without you even noticing. Some very miscellaneous examples include;

The kids toys at McDonalds. They are crap toys made in China that end up getting thrown out anyway. Say no to the toys, tell your kids they ran out or there are none at this store or let them know that instead of a toy they are getting the treat of take out instead.

Fundraising t-shirts... who wears these other than the day you are actually fundraising? Say no to the pink breast cancer T-shirt (that shouldn’t be handed out anyway, think of all the money that could go towards breast cancer if they weren’t purchasing shirts).

Pens, Magnets, Calenders & Notepads from offices. Nope, Just because I got my teeth cleaned at your dental office doesn’t mean I need a magnet or pad of paper to take home. I get so many real estate pads of paper in the mail. If I had kept every one of them over the last year I would easily have 30 pads of paper I don’t need.

Receipts- Ok, obviously keep the receipts you need but for the smaller purchases (that are not tax deductible) refrain from keeping receipts for items like milk or a pedicure you got last week. If there is no chance of you returning that item you dont need to waste the paper or the space in your home.

Packaging- In general for most items the packaging can be recycled immediately. Toys, small kitchen appliances, home decor, etc. For some tech gadgets the packaging needs to be kept to mail back in case of any warranty work is needed. Double check with the store you’re purchasing your tech from to ensure this is accurate. For example, with apple products you do not need to keep your box to have your warranty covered. If you do decide to keep these boxes, flatten them and store them under a bed, or in a office closet.


I hope this list gives you some ideas on how you can maintain a clutter free home!


Daily habits that keep my home organized

Once you have established your home as ‘organized’ it can be tough to maintain if you dont make daily organizing habits a priority. For me, I have a few things that generally get done everyday to keep my home (and family) running smoothly. For the most part, these habits happen everyday, but obviously life happens and there is the odd time that the house is a mess and their is stuff everywhere! What differentiates an organized person from someone who is not, is the mere minutes it takes to clean up the mess, instead of hours or days trying to reclaim your space.

Below are a few daily habits that I make every effort to complete:

  1. I do laundry (almost) everyday. Now this sounds like a lot, but the loads are always small and I run the washing machine on quick wash, so for the most part every load takes 15-20 minutes and I can switch to the dryer in the same hour. At some point in the evening, I fold the hot clothes out of the dryer (and remember this is a small load so takes me about 5 minutes to fold) and at bedtime, I put all the clothes away.
  2. The dishwasher is turned on before bed and emptied at breakfast. Now this doesn’t happen everyday as we dont fill up a dishwasher daily but anytime the dishwasher is full, it is emptied in the morning and any dirty dishes from breakfast are put in the dishwasher. All the counters are wiped clean afterwards
  3.  The blankets on the couch are put back in the basket and the pillows are fluffed and upright. Ok, this sounds super Type A, but when the couch is made up it makes the entire family room appear in order. I also like to clear off anything from the coffee table, except for the plant in the centre.
  4. When mail is brought in at the end of the day, right away I open it in front of the recycling drawer. I immediately recycle any junk mail, envelopes and any extra pages that your bills and statements like to include. Anything that needs to be paid right away is set aside on an area of the kitchen counter for my husband and I to discuss. Any statements or receipts and anything that needs to be filed is walked directly over to our filing cabinet and filed in a specific category.
  5. With my sons help, we tidy the playroom before bed. At 4 years old, he fully understands that If he doesn’t help to tidy his playroom, those toys will be given away. (and I mean that, check out my facebook post a few weeks back). So him & I will spend about 5 minutes tidying up, putting toys and books back to where they belong. I think this not only teaches kids respect for their things but respect for your home and the privilege they have living in it.
  6. At the end of the night, I look at my day timer and go over the next day. This quick glance just helps me to prepare for the next day, see who i’m going to work with, what time I’m getting up, and what time I need to get out the door.

I strongly believe that in a household with more than one adult at home, there needs to be chores/duties assigned to each person. As mentioned above, those are the household duties I am responsible for and my husband has his own set of duties which include;

  • Taking out the recycling everyday (this involves taking the two bins from our kitchen into the blue bins in our garage) which is about 15 steps away…
  • ok ok, he empties the dishwasher in the morning, I HATE IT! like seriously hate emptying the dishwasher. I have been known to leave dishes in the sink for days just so I dont have to empty it.. loading? I’m all over, but for some reason I just can’t empty it, so thats his job.
  • Vacuum. In addition to the weekly vacuuming I do with our heavy duty vacuum, my husband uses the Dyson battery powered V8 to do a very quick job around the main areas of the 1st floor.I’m talking like 2 minutes, its the most handy product we own!

All of these tasks/chores/ habits take 2-5 minutes each to complete but they are so critical in maintaining a clean and organized home. I can honestly say that most days when we come home, we can truly relax because everything is put back in its place and the small daily tasks that we complete haven’t been left to pile up, creating an over -cluttered and disorganized home.

Donation locations in Victoria, BC

One of the many perks about working with me is that any items you wish to donate, are taken away by me on every visit. You are not stuck with bags of unwanted items in your home or in your car for weeks on end. I try to keep up to date on what various organizations and charities are looking for or accepting and can donate your items accordingly for you.

I have been asked on many different occasions where I like to donate to, so I have compiled a list of the places in the greater Victoria area that you can take your unwanted belongings too! Do you know of an organization that I haven’t mentioned? Send me an email and let me know as I am always looking for different places to donate to.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is a Christian organization that provides hope and support to over 400 communities across Canada and in 128 countries. They accept:

  • Clothing
  • Housewares
  • Furniture
  • Electronics
  • toys
  • media and books
  • accessories
  • antiques and collectables
  • computers

The Mustard Seed Victoria

The Mustard Seed is a non-profit, fighting hunger and resorting faith to hurting souls in Greater Victoria. They welcome;

  • clean gently used clothes
  • shoes
  • home appliances
  • bagged and canned pet food
  • socks
  • backpacks
  • personal items such as shampoo/conditioner
  • hair brushes

Anney’s Closet

Using household items donated by downsizing seniors, friends of Soroptimists, and other kindhearted folks in our community, we’ve created a “free store” for women and girls who need household items. They welcome;

  • Gently used, Like new condition Cookware & Bakeware
  • kettles, toasters, small microwaves
  • cutlery
  • kitchen linens
  • mugs, glasses, dishes
  • towels, facecloths, shower curtains
  • pillow cases, sheets, duvet covers, quilts
  • new pillows
  • small furniture
  • small flat screen tvs
  • irons/ironing boards
  • laundry baskets, mop/buckets/broom

Single Parent Resource Centre

Providing practical support, opportunities for growth, and a sense of hope. They welcome;

  • Clothing (men, women & children including shoes, hats, belts, jewelry & accessories)
  • Household items
  • Instruments
  • new makeup and toiletries
  • Baby Items (car seats less than 6 years old), breast pumps, diapers and formula
  • Toys in good condition
  • Books & Puzzles
  • Bicycles

The Cridge Centre for the Family

The Cridge Centre for the family is a place where people can find hope and direction when they are most vulnerable and in need. They accept;

  • household items
  • furniture
  • computers
  • office supplies
  • tools/building supplies
  • books

BCSPCA Thrift Stores

Each location is privately owned and operated, contributing a percentage of income each year to the lifesaving work of the BCSPCA. The location for Victoria is 2630 Quadra St and they welcome;

  • Housewares
  • China/Flatware
  • Rugs
  • Curtains
  • Appliances
  • Electronic equipment
  • Clothing
  • Games
  • Books

BCSPCA also accepts pet food and supplies and even stuffed toys to provide comfort for rescued animals. Just ensure any plastic parts (i.e: nose, eyes, etc) are removed from the stuffy prior to donating to an SPCA location (not the thrift stores)

Victoria SPCA is located at 3150 Napier Lane.


Seasonal clothing switch out

Every Fall & Spring I make it a priority to assess my closet. Before I moved into a home with more space, I had to make the best of sharing a very small closet with my husband. In the spring, (around May) I gather my ‘Seasonal Tote’ full of my warmer weather clothes and begin the switch out.


I pile all of the cold weather clothes from my closet  onto the bed and go  through every single item before it goes into storage for 5-6 months.

With a few questions in mind I determine;

  • Did I wear this piece of clothing this season?
  • Is it in good shape?
  • Do I feel good in this?
  • Is it clean?


If I can answer yes to the above questions, into the ‘seasonal tote’ it goes. If any of the answers are no, it either goes into a donation pile or into the trash.

Once I have emptied the closet of all colder weather clothes, I can then begin to fold or hang all of my spring and summer clothes. Evaluating each piece as place it in the closet, I can assess once again the questions asked above.



This process ensures I only keep in my closet what I truly use and enjoy. There is no point to having clothes in your closet that you don’t like, or don’t flatter your body. Everyone has that favourite t-shirt of pair of jeans. Why not make every piece of clothing you own, your favourite?

My trip to ‘Type A Home’

I love Victoria. I love pretty much everything about living on this part of the island. What I don’t love? the limited amount of boutique style shops that specialize in certain items. I would love it if we could see less of the big box stores and more ‘mom & pop’ shops set up. Finding good, well made organizing products is difficult in Victoria, and too often I am forced to order online and even from the U.S. which can get pretty pricey. So I was so excited when I saw that the owners of Parc Modern had opened up a sister store specifically for all things Organizing, called Type A Home.

This husband and wife team didn’t disappoint. The main level Uptown store location was filled with items for travel and car, to kitchen and bathroom. I circled the store a few times, each loop finding something else both practical and functional. There were one too many items to list as favourites, so I selected my top 5 below.

If you haven’t made it in to Type A Home yet, make sure to pop in and see how these well selected, thought out- organizing products can help you organize and simplify your home.

5 habits for a Clutter-Free home

Creating a clutter-free home doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it take zero effort to maintain. Keeping an organized home clutter-free and tidy takes small daily habits to keep your home functioning well. Below are a few habits that I think are both realistic and easy to follow.

1.Handle Physical Mail immediately. I always recommend switching to online banking and receiving bills and invoices electronically but there are a few exceptions when physical mail is essential. Once the mail arrives at the house, don’t let it sit on the counter and pile up. Process it right away, recycling what can be discarded and sort what needs to be addressed or filed. A simple paper divider or paper tray in a kitchen corner or office is a great idea for the “in between” papers being received at the house and the filing cabinet.

2. 10 minute tidy before bedtime. Every night before my family heads to bed, we do a quick run through of the main floor and tidy. This isn’t something that takes more than 5-10 minutes and usually consists of:

  • filling and turning the dishwasher on
  • clearing off all counters in kitchen
  • any wet laundry to go in dryer
  • all clean and folded clothes put away
  • lunches made for next day
  • play room tidied and all toys put away

3. Keep Kitchen counters clear. Besides the everyday essentials,  the kitchen counters should be kept clear. Making easy storage space for items like blenders and toasters allows them to be easily and quickly put away when you aren’t using them the other 23 hours of the day. Having clear counters will help to prevent you from ‘storing’ items in the kitchen and finding homes elsewhere.

4.Clean dishes after each meal. The rule in my household is whoever cooked, doesn’t clean up. (so that usually means I am cleaning). Most of the time nothing else is started until the dishes have been cleaned and loaded in the dishwasher. This includes wiping down all the counters and putting away any leftovers. We are even teaching our 3 year old to return his plate to the sink and put his napkin in recycling. Once the kitchen is clean and the dishes are done, half the house is basically tidy!

5. Complete 1-2 minute jobs immediately. Clutter often occurs because of procrastination, small jobs left unfinished that end up becoming major tasks. Try thinking of it this way; If a job can be completed within 2 minutes, tackle it right away. Jobs such as taking out the garbage, folding a towel, making a bed or sweeping the kitchen can all be completed in 2 minutes or less. Tackling these smaller jobs will help to minimize the impact the bigger tasks have.


Why fewer toys will benefit your kids

Toys… they seem to be never ending these days. If you have children you understand! I am constantly telling clients, less! less! less! So for this post I complied a few reasons why fewer toys will actually benefit your kids.

Toys are not JUST playthings, they actually form the building blocks for our children’s future. While an abundance of these building blocks seems like a logical idea, kids thrive on much less toys than you would expect; and here’s why:

1. Kids experience more of nature. Children who are not bombarded with toys filing up their rooms, family rooms and basements, are more likely to explore the great outdoors, running, hiding, and involving themselves in physical exercise which leads to healthy bodies and healthy minds.

2. Kids learn to be more creative. So many toys prevent kids from letting their imagination run wild. With less toys, kids are forced to make believe, be creative and think outside the box.

3. Kids establish better social skills. Children with fewer toys, learn how to develop relationships with their peers and even with other adults. Instead of busying themselves with an abundance of toys, they learn how to converse back and forth with others.

4. Kids learn to take greater care of things. When children are overwhelmed with the amount of toys in their possession, they are naturally less likely to want to take care of them all. They do not learn to value them if there is always a replacement ready at hand.

5.Kids live in a cleaner, tidier home. If you have children, you know that toy clutter can quickly take over your entire home. Having fewer toys results in a less cluttered and more organized home.