Why mess doesn’t tidy itself up, even if you wish it would

If you share your home with other people and they go away traveling for a while, you’ll quickly discover a very interesting fact: nothing moves unless you move it yourself.

Messy dishes in sink

It’s simple physics. Newton’s first law states that an object (your mess) will remain at rest (exactly as it is) unless compelled to change its state (get tidied away) by the action of an external force (you).

That coat you slung over a chair when you arrived home? Unless you pick it up and put it away, it’s still there. That plate you ate a meal off? Unless you took it to the kitchen after you finished eating, it’s still there. That sink full of dishes? Unless you wash them up, they’re still there.

Other people’s mess

Of course it can work the other way around too. It may be that the person or people you live with go away and you discover just how much mess doesn’t happen when they’re not around.

There’s a hilarious sketch by the English comedian, Michael McIntyre, that beautifully illustrates this point. He recounts how his wife has asked him countless time to put his dirty plates in the dishwasher, not next to the dishwasher. ‘When I unload the shopping’, she rants, ‘do I unload it next to the fridge hoping someone’s going to finish the job for me? When I cook the Sunday lunch, do I put the chicken next to the oven or put it in the oven?’

So what can you do?

The first thing to understand is that life works better when your stuff is tidy and organized. That’s because humans rest aspects of their consciousness on their belongings, so if your home is a mess, your thoughts and emotions will be messy too.

That’s not to say you have to become a neat-freak. As I say in my book, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, ‘I’m not advocating pristine neatness. A home that is too tidy, where everything is “just so”, is energetically sterile and can be as much of a problem as a place that is a complete tip. But your home is an outward representation of what is going on inside you, so if you are messy on the outside there is a corresponding mess of some kind on the inside too. By sorting out the outer, the inner starts slotting neatly into place.’

The three steps to tidying a messy home are:

  • Group items into categories
  • Store similar categories together
  • Have a daily tidy-up to keep everything organized

The nuts and bolts of how to do this are explained in the two articles listed below. Tidying is actually the easy part. The more challenging thing is taking responsibility for your own mess and developing the will to do something about it. Which is what I hope this article, in its light-hearted way, has gently but effectively inspired you to do.

Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd, 2020

Related articles
A place for everything and everything in its place
The art of tidying and organizing your home

Like to read more articles like this?
Subscribe to my newsletters to receive news, articles and information about upcoming online courses by email. And I promise you – no junk mail ever.

About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fourth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
This entry was posted in Clutter clearing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why mess doesn’t tidy itself up, even if you wish it would

  1. “That’s because humans rest aspects of their consciousness on their belongings, so if your home is a mess, your thoughts and emotions will be messy too.” I had to read that sentence twice before I “got it”.

    That’s very profound, actually: “humans rest aspects of their consciousness on their belongings”.

    It is so true. Thanks for the concept, Karen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Clear Space Living Ltd
PO Box 11171, Sleaford
NG34 4FR, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1529 489840

UK Company No: 12067211
VAT Reg No: 339 267 376

International Directory
of Practitioners

Europe & UK
United States
Rest of the world