Do you feel overwhelmed by never-ending clutter? Whether it is a cluttered desk, a cluttered closet, for us gals a cluttered handbag, or for any of us a cluttered mind…clutter can inundate and engulf us. It seems to slowly creep into our lives without us even realizing what is happening. Like for example, where do you keep your mail? Is it an ever-growing pile that just gets stacked and stacked, or shoved in a drawer that gets more and more difficult to close? It is so hard to keep on top of it. Isn’t it?
The extent of our clutter becomes really apparent at certain times like when we are selling or turning in our lease on a car (and trying to clear our stuff out), or digging around in our big stylish fashionista bag for our keys, or when it is nearing tax time and all the receipts and files you need are in cluttered disarray. You know what I’m talking about...
There are many reasons we collect things. Some of the things we hang onto have sentimental value, others though unused for years, are items we think we will definitely need one day in the future. And who wants to feel silly for just having thrown out something you haven’t used in years or maybe even ever…that a week later you finally need?
It can certainly be a struggle to actually rid ourselves of that clutter. Scientists have even shown that when we let go of something to which we feel attached, the two areas in our brains associated with physical pain actually light up. So that unsettling discomfort when purging these things is real.
But…did you know that it is more detrimental to keep it all? Clutter can have a very negative impact on our brains. It impairs our ability to focus and think cognitively. A study was done at Princeton University in which neuroscientists measured the performance of people in an organized versus an unorganized setting. What they discovered was that the amount of clutter in our surroundings affects our performance because it pulls our attention away from the task at hand. Excess belongings in our environment result in less effective performance and a higher level of induced stress.
The physical clutter surrounding us causes our stress levels to spike as it overloads our senses and distracts our minds. Our ability to think clearly, be creative, and complete projects are dramatically affected by physical clutter.
But clutter doesn’t just come in physical form. The physical is the clearest to see, it is apparent to everyone who walks by your desk, gets in your car, or comes into your home. But it is the mental clutter that has exploded upon us as of late. The Facebook notification, the latest Twitter feed, and our addictive tie to our cell phones is just an example of the mental overload we feel. It is digital clutter and it is everywhere!
When we are mentally overwhelmed by our schedules, the compiled to-do lists we store in our heads, or the relentless pull of social media, our minds are not able to fully engage in the creative flow or the process of synthesizing our thoughts. Our thinking becomes splintered as we try to mentally multi-task. Our brain feels divided and our memory, ability to stay on task, and thought processes suffer. Physical and mental clutter have the same negative impact on our well-being.
They can give us the unwelcome feeling of overwhelm and chaos. Now let me tell you how much I dislike chaos, and why I strive to keep chaos out of my life as much as possible. Chaos is “complete disorder and confusion.” It is like a constant and annoying mental tug of war. It clouds our thinking, clutters our thoughts, and confuses our reasoning.
Did you know that there really is something called chaos addiction? It is real. While most people try to avoid drama, research shows that others have figured out how to trigger the body's stress response, just for the rush. They have come to rely on that rush…it somehow makes them feel alive. Chaos junkies feel that rush when chaos is happening around them. It is the adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormones) that they crave. As they become dependent on this substance, they develop the addiction. And soon enough, their chaos becomes a way of life. They begin to replace one chaotic event with another in an endless cycle.
Chaos addicts are typically always about 15 minutes late to wherever they are going. That’s because they tend to do just “one more thing” before heading out. This makes them late, which causes stress and induces chaos—just what they are looking for. They also typically have a mess that surrounds them. It can be their closet, their surroundings, their desk, you name it. This tends to make them lose items, like not know where their keys are, or their cell phone. Again stress inducers that feed their need for adrenaline to feel alive.Take the test and find out if you're creating chaos in your everyday life!
Directions: Answer the following questions ‘True’ or ‘False’
* Do you usually raise your voice and scream to make your point?
* Do you ramp things up to win every argument or discussion?
* If you get sick, do you feel that EVERYONE should know about it?
* When you argue, do you ever break stuff or knock things over?
* Does being calm or bored sound like the worst possible thing to you?
* Do you ever scream at strangers when you feel that they are in your way?
* Do you hate it when you are not the center of attention?
* Is there usually a crisis to solve in your life?
* Do you break up or threaten a break up with a mate often?
* Are you usually the one who starts fights or arguments?
Results: If you answered ‘True’ to five or more of the questions above, you are addicted to chaos!
In light of all this, what we inherently need and should actively strive for is clarity…
This is my mantra:
Clear the Clutter
Clear the Chaos
Clear the Chatter
When I am designing a space, whether it is an entire home, a kitchen, or even a small workspace at home, I strive to create a clear place for everything. I like to include a built-in space to charge electronics, a drawer with perfectly placed outlets at the vanity for the blow-dryer, curling iron, etc. a cabinet with a pull-out drawer for the coffee pot so it doesn’t clutter the counter, a laundry chute that lands right into the laundry room so no hampers needed, etc. Anything I can think of! The more thought out, the less clutter later.
“Clear the physical clutter and you make room for simplicity and ease.
Clear the mental clutter and your soul makes room for inspiration and joy.” –K.O.
So Girlbosses, this week free yourself from the clutter and the chaos surrounding you, whether it is physical, mental, or even emotional. Clear your mind from all that doesn’t serve your dreams and aspirations. Streamline your thinking by streamlining your surroundings and lifestyle. Embrace peace of mind and patience. By letting go of the drama that chaos stirs up, you can begin to create a new normal—one that brings clarity, calm, and renewed focus.