Do you have a house full of clutter? If you do, you might be experiencing some unexpected ill effects. You don’t have to suffer from full-blown hoarding disorders to suffer from the psychological side effects of having too much stuff in your life. Even a reasonable number of belongings, if not well organised, can be detrimental to your mood and even change your brain chemistry for the worse. Here’s how clutter can seriously cramp your style:
Clutter Messes With Your Attention Span
Having too much stuff lying about your rooms has a similar effect on your brain as having too many apps open on your laptop. You think you can shift seamlessly between tasks, but the truth is that your brain actually can only focus on one thing at a time. Instead of doing two or three different things simultaneously, your brain frantically toggles between the tasks you’re trying to focus on. The more you do it, the shorter your attention span becomes as your brain gets used to constantly scanning the horizon for the next thing. Clutter is the same: Even when you should be relaxing, your brain is flitting about, trying to figure out what to focus on. Over time, your capacity to concentrate on anything for a long period of time diminishes.
Clutter Stresses You Out
All that extra brain activity can make you crazy — or it makes you feel that way, at least. When you have toys, games, clothing, paperwork, and other stuff all over your home, you’ll never feel at rest in your space. Even if you think you’re immune to the mess, your brain is always “on” in the background, trying to figure out what to do with all that extra stuff. Having a cluttered desk is especially stressful, as your unfinished tasks are vying for your attention all the time.
Clutter Is Expensive
When your things aren’t organised, you may actually forget what you own and run out to buy something you don’t need. This is especially true in the kitchen: Have you ever brought home a new block cheese only to find one buried in the back of the refrigerator later? Worse still, many people find themselves looking for ever-larger houses just to accommodate all of their stuff — only to pack that house with clutter in a few years as well. The root problem isn’t square footage: It’s your level of organisation.
So Clutter Is Bad — Now What?
If you’re living in a cluttered home, you probably already feel overwhelmed by it — in part because your brain doesn’t want to focus on any one thing long enough to deal with it any more. Happily, it doesn’t take much focus to make a dent in your clutter. Check out my earlier post on how just a few minutes a day can snowball into major organisational successes. It also helps to focus on one small area at a time: I recommend the closet! Once you get started tackling the clutter, you’ll gain momentum and be well on your way to achieving a more organised and peaceful home.