(Oh that’s a young and dapper Albert Einstein alright!) I was tidying up my office area last night and after I was through, I felt that familiar sensation of, “aahhhhh” coupled with a satisfying sigh. That got me to thinking about why it makes me, and most other people, so gratified when clutter is annihilated.
I can tell you from my own experience that organizing and de-cluttering makes me feel empowered and in control. It also makes me feel like I have less to think about because the things I require to be aware of are organized conveniently in an area where my attention will be drawn, or tucked away in a place they belong (where I know I’ll be able to find them).
So I decided to look a little deeper to see if I could discover a more clinical cause of the happy sensation that runs tandem with tidying. I found an article online from a doctor named Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D. She outlines the mental cost of clutter in her article titled, “Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons and Remedies”. So after reading through this gem, it was easy to see why it feels so good to pair down, find homes for things, and totally tidy up.
Here is a teaser of her article:
“Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives.
Why does mess lead to so much stress?
- Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important.
- Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on.
- Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.
- Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done.
- Clutter makes us anxious because we’re never sure what it’s going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile.
- Clutter creates feelings of guilt (“I should be more organized”) and embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes or work spaces.
- Clutter inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brain storm, and problem solve.
Clutter frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly (e.g. files and paperwork lost in the “pile” or keys swallowed up by the clutter). “
I invite you to read on to discover some of her solutions.
Take it from a world-renowned and quite literal genius (talkin’ bout Albert here), you CAN find simplicity from clutter….ya just gotta go get it!