I hear it all the time: “If I only had more energy I’d be more organized.” It may be a case of the chicken and the egg – your disorganization depletes you so you don’t have the energy to get organized and visa versa. While there are certainly physical conditions that can zap energy, our own habits sometimes deplete us as well. There are two common areas clutter in most people’s lives: visual and electronic. I’ll talk about visual clutter this week and electronic clutter next week.
Is there a room in your home that, when you enter it or even just walk by, seeing the clutter just drags you down? Or maybe you feel that way when you enter your house. Clearing visual clutter will help reduce your stress and anxiety because your eyes and your brain won’t be over-stimulated.
Essayist Paul Graham describes his own battle with clutter in his essay Stuff: “A cluttered room saps one’s spirits. One reason, obviously, is that there’s less room for people in a room full of stuff. But there’s more going on than that. I think humans constantly scan their environment to build a mental model of what’s around them. And the harder a scene is to parse, the less energy you have left for conscious thoughts. A cluttered room is literally exhausting.”
The Chinese system of Feng Shui also identifies the energy-sapping quality of clutter: “Clutter is low, stagnant, and confusing energy that drains energy from you.”
Consider starting your visual -cluttering with the area where you spend the most time, or with what bothers you the most. Or start with a small area, as one of my clients did: At our first appointment, we organized her cabinet of food storage containers, even though I might have suggested we start somewhere more visible in her very cluttered home. But I followed her wishes and helped her match lids and bottoms, toss the orphaned lids and bottoms, and stack the remaining items by size and shape. When we met for our next appointment, she was excited to show me that no matter how chaotic her home or her life was on any given day, she appreciated being able to open that cabinet and see order and calm.
So where will you start your visual de-cluttering?