Make Peace with Your Cluttered Kitchen (and Yourself)

Let's talk about how your cluttered kitchen makes you feel.

  • When you walk into your kitchen to make dinner do you turn around and walk straight back out again?
  • You would cook healthier meals if you could - - but it’s just not happening.
  • Your kitchen feels like you are entering a war zone.

It isn’t pretty.

Clutter on the counter and chatter in your head.

You think, “This time it will be different.”

“Enough is enough!” you say for the very last time.

It’s time to brave the mess and do battle.

You’re going to cook no matter how the clutter causes you stress.

If you think it’s going to be easy, you are mistaken. It’s difficult to cook in a kitchen that is fighting with you.

Ready to find out more?

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Clutter is the new smoking. (When the mess becomes harmful to your health)

You may have a hard time focusing on the recipe and getting the ingredients together, never mind finding all the utensils and bowls and pots and things you also need. Clutter can do a number on your ability to concentrate.

A kitchen that feels cluttered is genuinely stressful, because clutter is stressful.

In a 2009 study, women (but not their husbands) were asked to describe their homes in a video tour. Those who said their homes were “messy” or “disorganized” had higher levels of stress, which was associated with negative health outcomes compared to those who described their homes as restful or restorative. The women who mentioned their homes were messy or disorganized also tended to be more depressed as the day went on.

A messy kitchen can cause:

  • Lack of focus
  • Stress
  • Eating crap
  • More stress
  • Depression

No wonder you struggle to get healthy meals.

It’s not you.

It’s the clutter.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Cutting tomatoes, prepping food to make a healthy meal on an uncluttered counter

Photo by Gary Barnes from Pexels

In a study that has stood the test of academic rigour, researchers found that individuals who were placed in a messy and cluttered environment tended to choose to eat more cookies than those who were not in a disordered or messy environment. (I bet you are not surprised by that.) The researchers had the participants recall a time when they felt in control of a situation-- when participants could recall and think about a situation in which they exercised some control, the chaotic environment did not lead to eating more cookies.

Participants only ate the extra cookies when they were in the chaotic environment, and they were reminded of a time when they were out of control.

So the lesson is simple (but maybe not so easy):


Start here: Figure out what’s working.

How to start making peace with your cluttered kitchen: pick one thing to declutter and work out from there.

This is important—this is what you build on.

A coach can be really helpful to you. They can help you discover just exactly what is working for you, how it is working, and why it is working for you. Once you have this information, you can take it and make a plan with it.

For example:

Let’s say making a cup of tea feels easy for you to do, no matter the situation your kitchen is in. You have everything right where you did it; it’s simple and relaxing.

Why is that?

And how can you duplicate that?

Create a space you want to cook in

What tasks get done easily?

For example:

Is a stir-fry super easy to cook because you have all the utensils you need right at the stove?  How can you take that idea of proximity and make it work somewhere else for you?

Or maybe you find you can cook just fine—as long as you don’t have to prep. Perhaps someone else can do that… or maybe you can do it at another time.

What is not working?

This list may be long, so don’t let it get to you.

You want to take a more planned and structured approach to organize your kitchen from top to bottom.

Or jump right in! Taking action when you feel like doing it is always a good thing.

Pick one thing and start

It doesn’t matter what you select.

It also doesn’t matter if you choose one thing to chip away at every day until it’s done—or if you pick something different.

What serves you best?

  • Is it tackling what bugs you?
  • Are the dishes not done?
  • Counters not cleared?

Or maybe you need to get into motion right now! If that’s the case, what’s the easiest thing to do to make peace with your kitchen?

Take a baby step

And I mean small, tiny baby steps.

Make it too small to fail.

That could mean simply sweeping the floor or putting away one item on your countertop.

Use a timer

This little trick eliminates a lot of anxiety.

Set the timer for ten to fifteen minutes.

Then focus on that one thing you picked.

That’s not a lot of time, but it is amazing how much can be accomplished with focus!

Before and after photos of a cluttered kitchen straightened using a 20 minute timer

Get Support

  • A coach can help you see what you cannot
  • A coach isn’t attached to the clutter and can help you clear it out faster. A trained professional organizer can also help

Call on a friend!

Ask them to be an accountability buddy.

There’s no shame in recognizing that you need help. It takes a certain strength to reach out. Besides, it’s easier to work on a big project with someone else—and it’s more fun!


Imagine, there will come a day when you will enter your kitchen with a smile, prepare food you know you will enjoy, you’ll do a quick clean-up that keeps you both happy and in control of your kitchen.

Next Time

The next time you find yourself chopping those veggies in an impossibly stressful mess, remind yourself of the times you were in control of a situation or environment.

You will get there.

Remember, what can you control? What can you do?

Do that.

You’ve got this.

Home coach extraordinaire, Alana Wylie will help you take your home from chaotic to calm.

She believes in her client’s ability to transform their homes --and their lives. Find other articles written by Alana on her coach profile. Let her help you get your home back, so you can start your own journey to a beautiful home you love to live in.