Clutter and stress. Many of us experience a little of it from time to time. In fact, some of us have more than just a little of both. Because of an overwhelming amount of mess, many don’t know where to begin de-cluttering it all. How does this all affect us?
Clutter plays a significant role in how we feel about ourselves, our homes and our workplaces. Cluttered homes make us feel anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Only now is clutter becoming recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives.
Why does clutter lead to so much stress?
- People often think of clutter as an energy drain, but it also drains us of our time. People in cluttered homes waste time looking for misplaced items, such as keys, money, shoes, tools, etc. Even when we’re looking in the place where we left them, they are difficult to see when buried underneath clutter. And the amount of time it takes to search through the clutter adds up exponentially. Clutter causes us stress because we’re never sure of how much time it’s going to take to get to the bottom of the pile. Searching through clutter to find what we need quickly robs of us our most valuable commodity – time.
- When our financial papers are disorganized, bills and other correspondence can get lost, causing us to accrue late fees or missed deadlines and in turn causes us stress. Re-purchasing misplaced items because we couldn’t locate them or didn’t realize we already had adds an additional cost that can be avoided. And then we need to consider the price of our time spent searching for misplaced items and the time and money spent to re-purchase them.
- Emotional Energy. Clutter drains you of your positive energy and has a negative effect on your overall health and wellbeing. Clutter overloads our minds with excessive and unnecessary stimuli, causing our senses to work overtime on things that need not be important, but because of clutter, becomes urgent. Clutter distracts us by taking our attention away from more important things. Clutter may even create feelings of guilt and low self-esteem and embarrassment, especially when guests unexpectedly drop by for a visit.
- Physical Energy. A cluttered home is a great cause of stress in itself. It multiplies the frustration and exhaustion that it takes to deal with it and sucks your energy away. Dealing with clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.
- Clutter distracts our attention away from what our focus could or should be. Clutter inhibits our creativity and productivity by not allowing us to think clearly and solve problems creatively. It robs us of the ability to become free thinkers.
The most obvious affect that clutter has on our lives is the amount of unnecessary stress it adds to one’s life. Here’s some of the ways clutter can cause stress:
- Having guests over becomes an embarrassment and takes more effort to prepare for
- Piles of clutter causes visual reminders of all the work that’s required to clear it all up
- Using specific places of your home for purposeful activities becomes difficult or impossible because clutter prevents you from doing so
Here are some basic steps to follow to help you avoid clutter related stress:
- Keep a daily task schedule. This is an easy and simple way to maintain a clutter-free house
- Use the 30-second rule. If a simple task takes no more than 30 seconds or less to do, do it immediately. This applies to putting away your shoes, sorting mail, and other small jobs.
- Recognize your ‘hot spots’. Clutter tends to accumulate in the same familiar places; the entry/exit way; the kitchen counter; on top of the dresser, etc., little by little each day. Recognize the areas where you tend to leave clutter throughout each day, so they don’t turn into big piles again.
- Put things away. Create “a place for everything and put everything in its place”. Make it a place where it’s easy to retrieve and more importantly, easier to put away.
- Take 15 minutes. Develop a habit of taking only 15 minutes a day to pick up, put away and de-clutter. You’d be surprise by how much you can get done in as little as 15 minutes.
- Stop the junk mail at the recycle bin. The best simple way to reduce paper clutter is to get rid of it before allowing it into your home!
Finally, clutter doesn’t only affect our physical environment, but our mental wellbeing as well. Mental clutter can be just as stressful. The best method to beat mental clutter is to avoid multi-tasking and focus on only one task at a time. You’ll accomplish much more when you focus on one single task without allowing anything else to distract you. While it may be challenging to accomplish in today’s fast paced society, it’s highly achievable and well worth the effort! Once you see how much you get done and how great it makes you feel, you’ll never experience a cluttered mind again!
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Be sure to check back next month for another invaluable tip to help you live a lifestyle with less stress and more success!