The advantages of decluttering….well, aren’t they obvious? On the surface, yes: less stuff to deal with…boom! But have you ever realized how insidious clutter really is? It’s more than just having too much physical stuff in your home. In fact, it negatively impacts your life in many other ways, including your health, your relationships and your productivity. Once you understand how it slows you down, you’ll want to start releasing the things that no longer support where you’re at…and more importantly, where you want to be! Let’s break it down and consider these 3 ways that clutter stops you from being the Best You!
1. The Effect of Clutter on Your Health
There are numerous studies that have examined the impact of clutter on our health and the verdict is in: it causes stress! No shock there, right? I mean, all we have to do is look around our homes. When we see the excess stuff, who doesn’t feel their anxiety barometer rise?
Now don’t get me wrong: of course our homes look a bit “lived in” as we go about our daily lives. Hardly anyone I know has a completely pristine, perfectly organized home 24-7. But it’s the growing, persistent piles and the jammed cabinets, drawers and closets that really turn the pressure on. Moreover, if we take this a step further, there are actually 3 sub-aspects to how clutter stress can play havoc with our health.
Firstly, elevated stress leads to high levels of cortisol. Of course, we all experience occasional flashes of stress during the day, some days more than others. But when it’s a prolonged state, it can lead to high blood pressure, increased fat accumulation, loss of calcium from bones and elevated blood sugar. Oh my gosh, this sounds like a daunting recipe for aging! So clearly, we benefit when we take a few minutes daily to remove household clutter from our homes.
Secondly, stress also affects our mental health. When we have way too many things coming at us, the stress hormones released harm our peace of mind. This can lead to depression, anxiety and even reduced cognitive abilities. Have you ever heard someone say (or said yourself), “I need a mental health day“?
Physical clutter definitely contributes to our mental overload. But even what I call “thought clutter” has the same detrimental effect. For this reason, take time to sort through or declutter your tasks and responsibilities on paper. It’s a very liberating solution to the competing priorities in our lives.
Thirdly, stress is not a friend of our emotional well being. Long-term clutter of all kinds causes sleep disruption and mood swings. Feelings of agitation, restlessness and fatigue make our daily routine feel heavy. Our energy is not at its peak. Everything feels like such an effort to complete. Yikes! Obviously, when our physical surroundings are cluttered, our brains feel under siege, too!
2. The Effect of Clutter on Your Relationships
Naturally, when we are feeling under siege, our relationships sputter and stagnate, as well. It’s difficult to focus on nurturing and strengthening our personal relationships when we ourselves are overwhelmed. Joint activities and shared interests are challenging when we don’t know where things are. Divorce rates rise. Children or others living in the household pick up on the tension, too. To put it differently, clutter is like a virus that infects us and those we love!
Even our friendships can be impacted negatively when clutter gets out of hand. Folks are embarrassed about the quantities of belongings in their homes. They become resistant to having friends drop by. It’s harder to maintain close connections when our stuff gets in the way. Indeed, when a hoarding situation develops (which is a recognized psychological disorder), the homeowner truly becomes isolated from personal contacts.
And oh, our girlfriends are SO important! They support us, they advise us, they laugh and cry with us. They are LOVE! Who would ever want their clutter to interfere with the shenanigans and hijinks we enjoy? Who would prioritize things and stuff over people and experiences? No one willingly, but it happens when our stuff holds us back.
3. The Effect of Clutter on Your Productivity
Lastly, our productivity, or ability to move ahead smoothly and efficiently with our tasks and goals is compromised by clutter. It tugs at our attention when important papers, notes and contacts are scattered across our tables, hidden amongst our emails or buried in texting threads. Oh sure, I’ve read that some of the most brilliant famous minds like Albert Einstein or JK Rowling are among the most disorganized folks around! Yet I can’t help but think that they are in the minority of those who can be messy yet manage to concentrate fully on their craft.
We are given only so many hours in each day. How do we want to spend that time: hunting and searching for lost, misplaced items? Sifting through stuff we no longer need or use? Who wants every task to take longer than necessary because our things get in the way? Anyone?
Naturally, this segues into the old adage, “time is money“. How we spend our work time is reflected in the monetary return. Think about buying a particular item frequently…not because you’re using it up but because you can never find it in your home! Consider the late charges that are assessed when we can’t find the bills that are due. As a matter of fact, when we spend our time and energy wading through clutter of all kinds, it slows us down and prevents us from realizing a fair return on our efforts. Who has time for that?
Ready to remove the clutter from your life? Not sure when you’ll find the time? Understand that even blocking out as little as 15 minutes a day will add up to noticeable results! I always advocate fitting in the session right before or right after another habit you already perform. This association will help with making decluttering a part of your regular routine.
Are you presently struggling with clutter? What is your biggest obstacle to getting rid of it? Is it time or your mindset? Or do you live with someone who can’t let things go? Give thought to what is holding you back. Let me know how I can help you!