Let's just get this right, we all are guilty of allowing certain clutter to pile up around us which eventually drowns us within it. For example, piles of documents on the desk, or a heaps of laundry suffocating us and limiting us from using the actual physical space. Did you know, it is so common for such a trivial clutter to trigger stress; from physical chaos that could easily translate into distraction and nervousness.
How does clutter impact your ability to pay attention?
Just how too many thoughts can crowd the mind, clutter feels like crowded physical space which drives our senses into over-stimulation and have an adverse impact on your ability to pay attention and process information, shown by a study from the Journal of Neuroscience. In short, it makes it hard for the brain to relax. For example, you might be trying to focus on your computer while you're working, but your desk clutter could be distracting your attention. This may lead to frustration from an inability to properly process a task.
Why do we hold onto clutter?
We inevitably attach sentimental or materialistic meaning to items we accumulate. Research from the Yale School of Medicine found that people who have habit of accumulating clutter showed increased activity in the two regions of the brain associated with conflict and pain when asked to throw out their own personal items from a pile of random things. One of my previous blogs explain some of the emotional reasons leading us to clutter, such as feeling of overwhelm and reluctance to begin, to anxiety and frustration from not being able to find things, to sentimental value and gifts, the price value and the "what if"s, etc. Lets admit we all have said this "what if I need it", "what if I can't replace it", "it was too expensive", "this is in memory of.."
We collect items for all sorts of different reasons; but getting rid of stuff is hard.
You may refer to my Simple steps to De-clutter, and find out how easily you can get rid of this clutter, not only, from your physical space, but also, from your mental space and, thus, save serious money by doing so. A well organised clutter-free environment means less stimuli to distract your mind and more mental energy to focus to intended work. Below are some ways you could start tackling clutter and reduce the overwhelm.
1. Select a spot (remember, start small!)
For example, take filing drawer in home office/ a box in the garage/ a kitchen cabinet, and so on..
2. Write your Intent/ outcome from this activity
For example, de-clutter to minimise paper and organise for easy accessibility
3. Categorise and use the "four bucket method"
Keep – Important documents, certificates, receipts for items under warranty, and so on..
Recycle – any blank envelopes, paper-pins, files, and so on..
Donate – gift certificates or valid coupons you won’t be using, and so on..
Trash – old bills, worn-out receipts or of items out of warranty, and so on..
4. Start sorting and compartmentalise
For example, consider labelling files with headings such as, insurances, banking, warranty receipts, tax documents, and so on..
You can also go into further detail and label sub-headings on divider folders. So for insurances, you could have sub-folders such as, life insurance, health insurance, home insurance, car insurance, pet insurance, and so on..
5. Clear everything & clean thoroughly
Clean the space with cloth. You could use butter-paper as a liner to protect it from dust.
If it’s a kitchen or linen space, I would go a step further and apply a spray of essential oil to clear negative energy and bring positive fresh vibe to the space.
6. Start organising with the clear intention in mind
Then start compiling using like with like method
7. Feel the instant reward!
Treat yourself with something special, may be a relaxing tea for yourself would be a good idea
Plan & execute
Now before you start with this exercise, I would suggest you allocate a time, it could be 15 minutes a day or few hours during the weekend, depending on type of job at hand. You could intend to start and maybe even finish cleaning out your space in one single go but it is not always necessary. You could also choose to do it in bulk and could make it a family activity depends on you. But a well planned activity would definitely give better outcome and save heaps of time at the end.
Maintain a de-cluttering routine
Let's get it right, de-cluttering is a mind & body exercise, so just like your fitness routine, this requires a certain mindset and discipline. Regularly spending dedicated time as less as 15 minutes could be as beneficial as your daily work-out. The discipline of reviewing spaces such as cupboards, wardrobes, kitchen cabinets, garage and spare bedrooms shall help reducing over all build up of clutter in your home.
In case you are wondering how to identify clutter, feel free to visit my previous blog and please leave your thoughts on this in the comments below.