Buying new things is extremely easy these days. If the stores aren’t open, you often have the option to order before 00:00 and have it delivered the following day. It has never been easier to buy new things: when you’re bored, when you come across an ad on social media, because your friend also has it or because you simply need it. Before you even realise it, your house is filled with stuff you don’t or hardly ever use. What we don’t realise is that too much stuff, and especially stuff you don’t really use, causes unrest in your home and your head. You’ve probably heard of the saying ‘tidy home, tidy mind’. But why does clutter make us feel so restless?
Our brains love structure; this ensures that we can get through the day efficiently and energetically and that our brain isn’t doing unnecessary work. Continuous visual stimuli from lots of stuff or clutter around you create disorder and disorganization in your head. The visual distraction of clutter overloads your brain and deteriorates working memory, which means it’s harder for you to concentrate. Research shows that cleaning clutter in your home or work environment results in a better ability to concentrate, process information and increased productivity. So, a tidy home will help you live and work more efficiently!
The effect of clutter
Clutter in your environment doesn’t only affect your focus and productivity, but also:
- Stress: research conducted amongst 60 households shows that a cluttered home triggered high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) during the day. This was accompanied by negative moods. Interestingly enough, men seemed to be less affected by this; they did register the mess but reacted less to it than women. A cluttered home does cause more stress. It is therefore good to make clear agreements within a household about tidying so that every family member contributes to the household and the collective stress level.
- Sleep: the stress of a cluttered home doesn’t go away once you go to bed. It turns out that people who sleep in cluttered rooms are more likely to have problems with sleeping, such as having difficulty falling asleep or waking up during the night.
- Procrastination: procrastination and clutter go hand in hand. This is a bit like the chicken and the egg story, but what is certain is that they reinforce each other. Sorting and discarding items is a task that people often dislike and therefore avoid. At the same time, procrastination tends to be a lifelong pattern, delaying “throw away decisions” and thereby creating more clutter.
Tips for cleaning up
Now you know the effects of clutter, but how do you get rid of it? Here are a few tips to help you on your way:
Clutter can quickly feel overwhelming. You don’t know where to start and so you just don’t do it. To prevent this, it is best to start with a place that is not too big and from which you can easily make the choice whether something can go or not. Think of a pen tray, a junk drawer, or your wardrobe.
Combine something fun with your task
When you combine something stupid with something nice, it’s not stupid anymore. For example, put on your favorite music while cleaning up or that one podcast you love to listen to. You’ll be surprised how far you get in 1 episode!
Give everything a home
It is often a mess because you don’t have a permanent place for your things. Rule 1 in organizing is therefore: give each item a home. Make sure everything has a fixed place, so you can easily put it back and find it again easily.
Ultimately, the above tips are symptomatic if you are not more aware of your purchases. Before you buy something, think about whether you really need that item: can you borrow it, how often will you use it? If you keep buying, you keep tidying up.
Are you looking for some extra help with tidying your home? You can contact a ‘professional organiser’. A professional organiser can help you make choices and break patterns. If you live in the ‘Randstad’ area of the Netherlands and need help, take a look at Rust in huis!