Clutter can have an important role in how we feel about our workplace, our homes, and ourselves. Cluttered homes and workspaces can make us uneasy, helpless, and overwhelmed. However, clutter is rarely recognized as an important source of stress in our lives.
Clutter triggers to the brain that your work is never done, making you feel like nothing is possible. Once this happens the stress hormone cortisol kicks into high gear and right behind it comes its friend anxiety. In 2016 a US study shows that background clutter resulted in participants being less able to correctly interpret the emotional expressions on the faces of characters in a movie. You are always distracted and trust me that is no fun.
Let us start with your time as it relates to clutter. People often think that having a mess is a lack of energy, but it also wastes our time. For example, people in cluttered homes spend more vital time every day looking for lost items such as keys, tools, money, shoes and many other items. Even if you are looking directly at the lost items, it will be difficult to see while surrounded by clutter. Therefore, it will take time to go through the cluttered items.
So, what about your money? When we do not have bills in order, bills can get lost, triggering us to add late fees. And who wants to pay late fees every month? Replacing a lost item or buying a copy of an item that we didn’t realize we have can also have an immediate total cost. This causes you to spend more because you cannot find what you already have.
The following are examples of stresses that can be caused by clutter.
• Having guests at your home can be an embarrassing and all-day preparation event.
• Each room has something that visually reminds you of all the work you need to do with cleaning.
• Using the home for activities such as scrapbooking and exercise can be difficult or impossible without spending a lot of time freeing up space.
Luckily, unlike other more frequently recognized causes of stress (e.g., our work, our relationships), clutter is one of the most manageable life stressors to resolve.
Here are some ideas:
If the entire house is cluttered and hijacked, do not work alone. Involve the whole family ( or call me) by starting with a room that everyone uses and letting each person take responsibility for the one section. If you are alone, start with one area at a time, clear that area, and then move to another area. It will give you a sense of accomplishment while gradually confirming your success.
Create designated places for regularly used items and consumables so you can quickly and easily find what you are looking for when you need it. However, be sure to designate these spaces as “closed spaces” such as drawers and containers. Only “Storing” things on open shelves or desks does not remove the visual stimulus that creates stress and reduces the amount of open space that your mind “sees”. Always remember to container it. When you see a closed off area your mind “sees” that nothing else can or should go there.
If you don’t use it, don’t need it, or don’t want it, get rid of it. You can donate it, throw it away, or recycle it, (one’s trash is another one’s wealth). But if you want to use it, keep it in the garage box (or where in the office) Store in a high place. Leave easily accessible space for the ones you use most often. Also, put the date in the box. With rare exceptions, if you haven’t opened the box within a year, what’s inside is probably not what you need.
If you want to take something out of the designated space and use it, put it back in as soon as you finish using it. It sounds easy, but it takes some practice and effort.
Clean up before leaving the main workspace. It’s common to pull things out when you’re working in space but get in the habit of cleaning up your workspace before you go. Not only does this give you a feeling of closure when you leave, but it will make you feel better when you return to a clean and nice space.
Have fun! When you work and clean up, put on some of your favourite songs. The faster the pace, the better! Not only will you enjoy the song, but time will pass faster, and you will “work faster than without music.
Lastly, clutter doesn’t just apply to our physical environment. Mental stress can be just as stressful, if not more stressful, than physical disabilities. There are articles of tips that can be provided about mental stress. Still, one of the most basic and helpful tips that can be provided about mental stress is one project at a time, without distractions such as cell phones or emails and various other electronic gadgets. And I realize it can be hard to achieve nowadays, but it’s feasible, and I think you can agree.
• Lightly clean your home at the end of each day.
• Do more thorough cleaning once a week (or hire someone to do it if you’re on a budget).