Why Clutter Stops You From Focusing On Life

Someone stuffed my head with straw this week.

Like the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, I've spaced out at the wrong times and seem to be looking at the world through a fog.

It's No Mess Monday next week, I thought to myself. How can I write an update when my focus is shot?

I'd made progress with my hoarding habit (*hint hint* my closet) but hadn't done any decluttering in the last few weeks.

I felt stuck. I needed my head unstuffed so I could clean house and write about it.

So I Googled ways to get my act together and guess what I found?

Lack focus? It could be the clutter piled up around you! Click through for more details + an update on my hoarding habit this No Mess Monday.

The chaos of clutter kills focus and your brain's info-processing superpowers.

Scientists from the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute agree (though in more technical words than I just used). Basically, having lots of stuff around you distracts and keeps you from focusing on another thing.

Like when your Facebook notifications keep pinging while you're working on something. You can still get your To-Do done, but the repeated alerts are annoying and stops you from doing your best work.

Professional organizers say the same too. Their clients find their clutter so scary-huge they can't deal. They say they're "suffocated" and "can't breathe".

A lot of people express that they are overwhelmed,” says Lynne Gilberg, a professional organizer. “They become nonfunctional and nonproductive.” (You can read more at WebMD.)

I looked at my clutter after reading that (remember the photos from the first No Mess Monday post?) and thought of how hard it felt to get up each morning surrounded by all of it.

I didn't realize it was affecting me so much.

Your clutter affects you in the same way.

When you're not at peace about your space, your ability to show up in life gets wonky.

So I took my own advice.

I used a clutter-busting hack I shared with you last month, and invited friends for an informal swap party with food and drinks. They would help me declutter and get first dibs on the stuff I was letting go of.

Here are some shots of my bedroom plus the fun comments my friends / cleaners / miracle workers made while at it.

PLUS a happy shih tzu named Skippy! Because cute dogs always rock:

"If you weren't writing about this on Monday, you'd never get this cleaned up!"

"If you weren't writing about this on Monday, you'd never get this cleaned up!"

"Why'd you hide the chair? It's really comfy!"

"Why'd you hide the chair? It's really comfy!"

"You can actually see your nightstand's a table now!"

"You can actually see your nightstand's a table now!"

"You have two bedside lamps that don't work... Okaayyyyyyy."

"You have two bedside lamps that don't work... Okaayyyyyyy."

We ended the weekend with a real Win-Win situation. I was over the moon with a place I felt good about, and my friends had new stuff they liked (and dinner too!).

Do you want to show up more in your job, your relationships, and life in general?

Then here's your action step for today: Declutter your messy space, even just for 15 minutes today. Invite friends, play music, just start!

It won't be finished overnight (and you may have other problems!) but this one thing will give you the energy to act in other parts of your life.

I'll leave you with inspiring words from that WebMD article I mentioned a few paragraphs up:

“As people clean up, their energy seems to rise,” Cindy Glovinsky, MSW, a psycotherapist and professional organizer. “And once clutter is cleaned up, some people begin to work on other issues.” One of her clients, a professor unhappy with her job, got a better position once the clutter was under control. Another, so overweight she was housebound, joined an online self-help group after the clutter was cleared away.

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