A couple years back, I got the itch to get organized and turned to an expert with a popular HGTV show: Cas Aarsen of Hot Mess House. It was a pleasure to interview Aarsen after resonating with her book The Clutter Connection. Today’s Hot Mess House Cas Aarsen Interview & 8 Decluttering Lessons shares wisdom from the charismatic HGTV star. (I also took Aarsen’s certification course and highly recommend it even you simply wish to be a more proficient organizer in your own home).
Hot Mess House Cas Aarsen Interview + 8 Decluttering Lessons
I’m the type more in love with the idea of organization than with maintaining organization systems. So it helped to have Aarsen connect the dots as to obstacles blocking harmonious order at home. These lessons were inspired by Cassandra Aarsen’s helpful book which explores personality type and organization.
Let’s see her in action:
The Clutter Connection
The Clutter Connection by organization expert, TV personality, and bestselling author Cassandra Aarsen had me hooked from page one and shaped my organization plan as well as my understanding of why one style of order does not fit all.
CAUTION: Are you someone who thinks some people are just naturally organized and others are naturally messy?
Brace yourself for a potentially transforming about-face!
Why this approach to home organization stands out? Aarssen’s mantra is elegantly simple and is the first decluttering lesson of the day.
Decluttering Lesson No. 1
YOU’RE NOT MESSY, YOU JUST ORGANIZE DIFFERENTLY
This powerful message has helped her rejuvenate thousands of lives. The Clutter Connection helps you identify your “clutterbug type” then recommends optimal practices to become more happily and sustainably organized at home.
Aarssen’s message helps folks who feel shamed by their particular organizational style. This organizing guru means it. We’re not messy, lazy, flaky or any of those unsavory identities we accept when we can’t for the life of us locate the scotch tape or electric bill.
Yet the message isn’t all warm fuzzies. Addressing shame is one thing; getting down to work is another.
Decluttering Lesson No. 2
ORGANIZATION BEGINS WITH MINDFULNESS
We CAN get organized…by becoming more mindful about the particular organization system which meshes with our personality type (Bonus: It’s not complicated at all!)
I’m grateful for the mindfulness The Clutter Connection helps us cultivate. Oh, and, just in case you assume I am naturally organized given the uncluttered appearance of our interiors…
I’ll spill the tea as I share Aarsen’s method for demystifying clutter and moving through obstacles to order.
Interview With Organization Guru Cassandra Aarssen
HL: Who did you have in mind when you wrote The Clutter Connection?
CA: “Honestly, I had myself in mind … and everyone else who has ever felt messy, disorganized and overwhelmed with life. I spent the majority of my life living in chaos and clutter. The solution was so easy and so simple, it’s now my mission to shout it from the roof tops to anyone who will listen!”
Decluttering Lesson No. 3
MINDFULNESS DOESN’T MEAN IT WILL BE COMPLICATED
HL: As a professional organizer, what have you learned about the shame a lot of folks harbor about their perceived laziness and inability to get a handle on their stuff?
CA: “It’s amazing how a person’s perception of themselves can literally shape everything about their life. When someone who has always thought themselves as a “messy” or “lazy” person finally understands that they simply organize differently, this self awareness alone is often all it takes to transform their home and their life.
I’ve seen intelligent and hardworking individuals reduced to tears over their inability to adapt to traditional organizing methods. Clutter and disorganization can make them feel so out-of-control that they shut down and avoid attempting to take control of their life, for fear of failure. Once they truly understand themselves and what WILL work with their unique organizing style, they can let go of the shame and start taking real action towards their goals.”
Decluttering Lesson No. 4
TRADITIONAL ONE SIZE FITS ALL ORGANIZING METHODS DON’T WORK…WE’RE ALL DIFFERENT
HL: You write that ‘becoming the boss of your home gives you the ability to become the boss of your entire amazing life.’ How did organizing your home transform your own overall perspective?
CA: “For the first time in my life, I felt in control more than I felt out of control. Being organized saved me a lot of time and effort too. When my home was finally functional, I became more productive, less stressed and just a happier person. It was that shift to a more happier and productive person that impacted my relationships and my career in a really profound way. I truly believe that your outer environment really affects your internal environment.”
HL: Your approach to organization by focusing on the individual first is a breath of fresh air, and I appreciate how you demystify the process and help me feel empowered to dig in. Can getting organized truly become addicting as we begin to see immediate results?
CA: “Heck yeah it can! I always say that “if working out gave me the same immediate results as organizing, I’d be a size two.” I don’t want to work hard at something! I like immediate and long lasting results and don’t like to spend more than 15-20 minutes at a time on things.
The Joy of Immediate Gratification
When you organize a drawer or declutter your closet, you can see IMMEDIATE results and the long lasting impact of your organization will save you time and make your life easier in the future.
Can 15 minutes of organizing really change your life? Totally! If organizing your closet saves you just 5 minutes each morning when getting ready for work, that is over 21 hours a year! Everything you organize is going to give you that immediate feeling of accomplishment, plus you’ll have the added benefit of life long time and effort savings! It is a very addicting feeling.”
Decluttering Lesson No. 5
15 MINUTES OF ORGANIZING EACH DAY WILL TRANSFORM OUR LIVES
HL: How does identifying our clutterbug type save time, headache, and money?
CA: “How may times have you organized or cleaned your home, just to have it become messy again a few days later? The reason you struggle to stay organized is because you aren’t using a system designed for you (and your family) and the way you naturally put things away.
Once you identify what Clutterbug you are, you can setup systems that are so easy to use, you don’t even realize you ARE putting things away. That is the secret, streamlining your home. When your home is functional and organized, you no longer lose items, re-buy items you already have or feel embarrassed and stressed about the state of your home.”
HL: The secret is out…you can be Ms. Clean who aspires to have the most tidy, clutter-free home, yet you may indeed be Ms. Disorganized. Why is that?
CA: “One of the Clutterbug styles, the Ladybug, is a classic hidey-hoarder! I am a Ladybug, so I can totally say that. I love having a clean and tidy home, but in order to achieve that, I used to shove and hide items in every hidden spot in my home. The result? I could never actually find anything.
My home may have appeared tidy and organized, but the truth was, the clutter was just hidden out of sight. My home wasn’t organized at all and I had to make a HUGE mess and spend countless hours looking for lost items, just to spend even more time shoving it all back into hiding when I was done.”
HL: The secret is out! I’m a ladybug too! I have always joked that you better slip on a hardhat before opening one of my cupboard doors…I could care less about how things look behind closed doors. All of my energy goes into what lies outside of those doors and drawers!
Decluttering Lesson No. 6
A BETTER FUNCTIONING HOME IS JUST AS IMPORTANT FOR REDUCING STRESS AS MAINTAINING A TIDY HOME
“This vicious cycle was exhausting and made me feel like a total failure. Now that I work with my tendency to hide clutter out of sight, I have fast and easy systems in all my closets that enable me to “toss” my things away, but in a really organized way, so I can easily find things again when I need them.”
HL: Yes! Tossing my things away is what feels right to this ladybug too. I crave open storage like baskets and big categories.
Dramatic Success Stories
HL: Tell us about some of your more dramatic success stories where a client went from chaotic and cluttered to peaceful and organized.
CA: “Oh, I’ve had so, so many! One of my all time favourite success stories was a family on the brink of collapse. The mom wanted a divorce because she felt her husband wasn’t helping out with housework and the husband felt like nothing he did ever made his wife happy. They had three small children and everyone was just stressed out and overwhelmed.
The husband contacted me for help as a last ditch effort to see his family. When I visited the family for the first time, it was obvious that the mom was a Cricket and the rest of the family were total Butterflies. Crickets like detailed organization and prefer to have everything out of sight. Butterflies are the complete opposite! They need simple solutions and they need to see their items for fear of ‘out of sight, out of mind.‘
The Cricket mom in this family was trying to force the rest of her family to adapt to her style and feeling disrespected and unappreciated because they couldn’t. When she realized that their apparent “messiness” wasn’t about her and it wasn’t their fault, everything changed. We setup systems that were more visual and much easier for the family to maintain. Everyone compromised and in the end, the family was stronger than ever. Four years later and I still get a Christmas card every year from that wonderful family.”
Less Frustration, More Compassion
HL: How amazing! As I read your book, I could feel my compassion widening for the other clutterbug types I recognize as family members. All of the sudden, this shift in thinking began for me where I saw their organization needs as extensions of personality and not character flaws or limitations. There are so many families who need your revolutionary ideas!
Decluttering Lesson No. 7
CLUTTERBUG TYPE IDENTIFICATION YIELDS FRUITFUL DISCUSSIONS & REPLACES FINGER POINTING WITH PEACE AND UNDERSTANDING
Training for Organizers
HL: You offer an organization expert course and train others to become expert organizers…is there a real demand for professional organizers?
CA: “Does the course help people learn how to become an Organizing Expert and start their own business?
Yes, but the real purpose is to give people confidence in themselves. I designed the course to empower everyone to feel so confident in their ability to organize that they feel they could do it for a career.
Do I think there is a demand for professional organizers?
Absolutely, but the real goal with my course is to turn the positive power of organization into a passion for everyone who takes the course. Most people are taking the course for personal reasons, but I think completing the course and becoming a Certified Organizational Specialist™ is that added boost they need to trust themselves and finally get out of their own way and become the boss of their own home.“
Take the Organization Course!
HL: I hope my readers interested in organization for themselves and others take advantage of this course! (Use code HELLOLOVELY50 to get 50% off!!)
HL: Surely we all want to have a more organized nest. What keeps most of us from seizing the day and getting started?
CA: “Fear of failure. If you have tried to get organized in the past and failed, it’s an awful feeling. So awful in fact, you probably avoid going through it again. The truth is, most people try organizing based on “traditional” methods, like filing cabinets and even closets and drawers! If you are a Butterfly, hidden and detailed storage just doesn’t work for you…period.
Decluttering Lesson No. 8
YOUR PAST FAILURES WITH ORGANIZATION? IRRELEVANT. THEY NEED NOT HOLD YOU BACK FROM SUCCESS NOW.
HL: And if you’re already not feelin’ optimistic, surely social media insta-perfect images do little to help! I love how realistic and results-oriented your work is, Cas!
Knowing that your past failure has nothing to do with you being lazy or messy and having the knowledge of what WILL work for you can help you to overcome that fear and try again.
It’s about knowing yourself better and giving yourself a little grace.”
You are not messy, you just organize differently.
I’m so excited for you to read the book and dish about what type of clutterbug you are!
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I took the test and as I guessed ahead of time I am a cricket. Now to put the information to used. We are going thought a house addition and remodel. It will be fun to reorganize, sort, and put away all our possessions in storage containers in the coming months. This was a fun post.
Thanks for joining the fun! My sister is a cricket so I have a lot of admiration for you types! I always found moving to be the perfect time to get organized so hopefully your renovation process will also be an ideal time. Thanks for reading, and keep me posted!
Wow, this was very interesting and I will pick up the book. Not sure of my particular type, may be a combination. Love to organize and develop “systems” to store the household’s necessary items, but I seem to be the guilty member of the family who most leaves my stuff laying around until I can’t stand the clutter. Wish that my rooms were as neat and tidy as the rooms in your home. It’s time to redecorate and that will, no doubt, give me a new vision. This was a fun post. As always, thanks, Michele.
Isn’t if fascinating? I bet you when you take the little test, you’ll fall within just one type – that is how brilliant it is! I am sure your closets and cupboards are much tidier than mine – I’m a hider of my messes! 🙂 Thanks for playing along.
Mindfullness. WOW! What a mind opening, thought provoking post. Your statement that a person’s perception of themselves can literally shape everything about their life is so true. I see this in my husband and in my children, and I guess I need to start seeing it in myself. Thank you for this awakening. While I’m a tidy and fairly organized person, I think I can apply the concept in many ways in my life. Hey, stay warm over there in FRIGID ILLINOIS.
Thank you for reading it, Celia – I felt so impassioned about this topic and am just getting warmed up! The personality-organization style connection thing is huge. Not because it means America will have tidier linen closets but because Cassandra’s ideas are going to CHANGE MINDS. I thought I was hopeless at organization, but now I feel empowered to organize IN THE RIGHT WAY. And I also understand my family members’ styles better. 20 below – and no idea why we live here! 🙂
What a fun way of putting yourself in a box. I’m a cricket with a twist. I put everything away in it’s place as they are used or brought into the house. My mind rests in an uncluttered, neat space. I love to organize, sort and store. Always have, even as a child. I’m an A type personality but have been trying to slow down, relax more and just enjoy what every new day brings. I think I’m successful… most of the time. 😉
My daughter is the complete opposite. Her home is very messy and cluttered. She might benefit from this book. I know she likes clean & tidy but she doesn’t seem to want to put in the effort required. I wonder what Cassandra would say?
What I discovered after reading the book is there is no such thing as ‘naturally organized’ and that just because stuff is not out in the open does not mean you are an organized person. I hide everything away immediately, but I’m not well enough organized! My son needs to see everything, and that doesn’t make him messy or unorganized just a different type. If he can find a paperclip in 3 seconds, and it takes me 20 minutes of searching through closed cupboards, who is more oganized. Ya know?
No, my daughter’s house is messy and she would be the first to agree. I know she doesn’t like the clutter but no matter how many times she declutters and tidys up, the piles grow on her bureau, on the kitchen island, on the floor of her closet, in her dining room…She’s constantly searching for lost things. It’s not that only I see the mess, but she does too, and doesn’t like it.
I get it. I’m not saying there are no messy houses, but I’m saying the book has illuminated how it’s not the PEOPLE who are messy. Once we identify our type, we know how to get the systems in place to put easily put things away and sustain the organization. I live with a bee who needs to see everything and have always just thought he was messy. He’s not. He’s a bee. I don’t organize my stuff like my sister does. I need broad categories where I can just toss things away in an open container. It can’t be closed up, very meticulously labeled and stacked boxes. The book answers the mystery as to why there are all these breakdowns and why there is not just one way to organize that will be successful for everyone.
“… your outer environment really affects your internal environment.” YES! I was just posting about this today. I’m fascinated by these concepts and look forward to reading the book. Thanks for sharing the interview. I’ll let you know if I, too, have a big organizational ‘aha moment’!
Love your hygge post, and it’s so interesting to get more mindful about these connections between our literal and figurative interiors. It’s never as simple as ‘get your $hit together on the outside and be transformed on the inside.’ But it’s these movements of letting go and deciding in small and significant ways ‘what will I give myself to?’ that lead to transformation and growth. If hours are wasted each week looking for lost things or feeling anxiety because of our surroundings, then we are not living in wellness or abundance as we potentially could. Thanks for adding to the beauty.
So glad you are here at the WWBH party and sharing with us. I am so delighted. My closets are the same – not organized, but I started going through all of them and getting organizing. I did my bedroom so far and the guest room. Working on the kitchen. I will take the test and see what type I am. It does feel so good to declutter and get organize. Your home is beautiful.
Have a great weekend and stay warm.
Sounds like you are making steady, lovely progress, Bev! You go! I am moving slowly but surely, and the idea of becoming more mindful about my clutterbug type and organizing in the right way for my particular type is helping. Thanks for hosting and for your kind encouragement. Peace to you, friend.
Very interesting! Your home is beautiful!!
Thanks so much for the kind words. 🙂
So I am so late in responding to your comment on Thursday Favorite Things. Crazy here. I love seeing how lovely and organized your home is. I always looks so serene. I am working on getting decluttered and organized. Problem is that is gets worse before it gets better. Too many piles to get rid of or put away.
I’m tidy but truly need to get my organization ON like donkey kong so stay tuned, friend! Thanks so much for your support, kind words, and gracious spirit which bids me to aim higher! xox
Loved video of Cas & her speed cleaning tips! She’s a hoot!😂 Though I think of myself as a tidy person, I’ve never thought to do any of her 5 tips, except the dust wand, but even then I forget to use it most of the time! I’ve never used a tidy tote, a one product wonder (though I LOVE those white erasers!), or a spray mop, and I rarely spray & walk away. Those simple 5 tips will revolutionize my cleaning, time-wise especially! I look forward to implementing them all. Just from her charts, I think I’m a ladybug too. I need to get her book and take her course. Thanks for a fun and fruitful post, Michele!
Thank you for taking the time to see the fruit in this post, Amy. You and I are kindred for sure. So excited to see Cas help a bunch of families learn systems of order through her HGTV show. Her course helped me step over my shame about my organization style. Instead of trying to model myself after others and then be unable to maintain those systems, my systems work exclusively for my style so they stick and work! But there’s this other bonus that happened too. I stopped seeing one of our sons as messy because I realized he is not a Ladybug – quite the opposite – and his style totally works for him. So there is all this compassion that can grow out of a very practical typography scheme. Have a wonderful week, friend. xox
Oh wow, didn’t even realize she had a show! Will have to check it out! And that’s neat about your son, I will probably find out the same thing about my kids! 🤗 And an update on my washable Ruggable.com rugs…received all five of them and I absolutely love them!! So def keep that in mind for the future!
Thank you for that update and keeping Ruggable on my radar. Yay!
Hi! Is your code HELLOLOVELY50 still working?
Yep! Bet you’ll love the course! :0
Cass is hilarious with so much great info!! Loved the video about the different clutterbug styles and am def a ladybug! Want it all out of sight especially when company’s coming, then for the next few days everyone in my house keeps asking, “Mom, where did you put my so & so?” And I’m not always sure…I just shoved it into a cabinet/closet/or drawer to get it out of sight! 🤪Enjoyed rewatching the tips on cleaning that are SO good & simple! I still need to implement them all. She is like a standup comedian…so entertaining! Haha!
Cas has so much charisma and charmed me years ago with her self-deprecating humor. It’s so rare to have these teachers who are willing to be so vulnerable about their limitations and blindspots. This ladybug is not surprised to hear you are a ladybug! I’m happy to say that after taking Cas’ course and reading the book, the systems I put in place in my closet and bathroom organization still work for me to this day. It’s the longest stretch for me since there were other seasons I would organize according to someone else’s advice and then watch the clutter and disarray return. 🙂
Saying that ‘It’s the longest stretch” has got to be the BEST endorsement ever! We’ve all organized only to have the mess return too soon. Keeping it together for 2 years (?) is impressive.
Exactly! When I first read about the ladybug type, I knew Cas understood me completely and trusted the advice which continues to serve me well and has empowered me to maintain the systems in place. It’s one thing to–with eyes wide open–stare at a room (or three) of disorder and feel it will take a small miracle to rein it all in. But when you’re armed with the confidence that THIS time it will all be organized in the best way for you…well, it’s still work, but it’s not maniacal feverish work. It’s steadier, chip away at it each day til it is done work, and for me, my mindset DURING the process influences quite a lot! Thanks so much for reading and the kind words. 🙂
I absolutely love this post! I have never heard of Cassandra Aarssen til now (how did that happen?) And I’d say I’m a Cricket. Even though I’ve never heard of Cas I follow @Home with Nikki, love love her way of organizing I guess ’cause she’s a Cricket too! lol!
So fun to explore the clutterbug types and begin to connect the dots. I appreciate the way Cas has given us all this vocabulary to discuss organization in a way that is more respectful and realistic. I mean, there is so much diversity across humans so of course we’re going to require different systems in place to keep us orderly. So interesting to begin to notice the folks who organize like we do!
I loved this, Michele! Really interesting. I would say I’m a ladybug. Once, during a particularly chaotic time of my life (which would describe the last 20 years or so, give or take!), my sister opened up my pantry door and gasped. It was SUCH a mess, but, from the outside, with all of my closet doors closed, everything looked pretty tidy. Her closets have always been impeccable. I’ve gotten much better, especially now that I’m much more of a minimalist. (My art and craft supplies are even pretty organized now, but I’m still not really a minimalist in that department.)
omg, same, Pam! My sister’s closet is a masterpiece, whereas I have always given myself a free pass to be messy! My parents are neat freaks, and our house was immaculate so I think the messy-ness behind cupboard doors became a way of getting free and not worrying about wrinkled towels. And my art supplies are overflowing. It truly is hard to be a minimalist if you’re an artist – everyone’s castoffs make their way to you. 🙂