Clutter messes up more than your living room. When your home and work spaces are in disorder you’re likely to feel more anxious and depressed.
Studies have found that homeowners who say they have too much stuff describe themselves as drained and overwhelmed. They also have higher level of cortisol and other stress hormones, and they have more difficulty completing tasks because of their disorganized environment.
Find out how clutter is affecting you, and pick up some tips for bringing physical and mental clutter under control.
Understanding the Effects of Clutter
There are good reasons to be concerned about clutter. An untidy environment aggravates allergies and increases the risk of fire and accidents. See what tidying up can do for your body and mind.
1. Eliminate distractions. It’s difficult to concentrate when your brain is busy looking at irrelevant objects. A clear view will help you to focus on your immediate task.
2. Save time. How much time do you spend looking for car keys or the TV remote? When your possessions are kept in their place, you’ll know where each item is.
3. Boost your creativity. Clutter increases stress, which inhibits your creativity. On the other hand, open spaces encourage innovative ideas and artistic flair.
4. Really relax. Overloading your senses with physical and mental stimuli disturbs your sleep and rest. You may also feel guilty about your housekeeping. Becoming more organized will eliminate a major source of tension.
Controlling Physical Clutter
Imagine how great you’d feel without dirty dishes in the sink and piles of paper on your desk. Even a few minutes of straightening up each day adds up to a big difference.
1. Buy less. Fight clutter at its source by resisting the urge to add to your possessions. Prepare a shopping list in advance so you stick to purchasing just what you need. Find other ways to entertain yourself besides browsing online stores.
2. Toss stuff out. Go through the things you already have. Sort out what you can throw in the dumpster or give away. Try setting parameters like discarding anything you haven’t used in the past year that has no sentimental value.
3. Store things away. Once you’ve figured out what to keep, think about how to make it less visible. Filing cabinets and trunks can keep essential documents and out-of-season clothing on hand but out of view.
4. Set up a maintenance schedule. Remember that dealing with clutter is an ongoing project. Schedule an appointment with yourself every 6 months to review the situation.
Controlling Mental Clutter
Conquer those disturbing thoughts and digital overload by adopting some constructive new habits:
1. Disconnect for a while. Put aside an hour or two each day to turn off your phone and stop checking social media. For higher quality sleep, stay away from the TV and computers for at least an hour before bedtime.
2. Set specific goals. Planning your activities and creating priorities shows you where to channel your energies. You can enjoy making progress without worrying about what else you’re supposed to be doing.
3. Filter information. Do you feel bombarded by advertisements and news stories? Try becoming more selective about what media you consume. Leave the TV off unless there’s a program you plan to watch. Limit the number of web sites you visit on a regular basis.
Transform your outer and inner experiences. A tidy home and office decreases anxiety and enables you to devote your energy to the things you love. De-cluttering will leave you feeling more content and productive.