These days, we’ve all become more used to living with a lot of things in our lives. Yet, when those things get out of control it can lead to us feeling overwhelmed, becoming less productive, struggling to focus, and lacking in motivation. This is the “Clutter Effect”.
Yet, many people have no idea just how disorganized their lives have become. They have become so used to juggling the many elements in it, from relationships and children to careers and friends, that they can’t see the wood from the trees. Eventually, though, the confusion will become so great that they won’t be able to function effectively at all. Therefore, knowing what clutter actually is, how to identify it and how to eliminate it lies at the heart of achieving overall happiness and success.
What is Clutter?
When you think about clutter, you probably imagine piles of magazines and paperwork strewn over your countertops and mounds of junk on the stairs waiting to be taken up. It’s true that this is clutter – but it’s only the physical kind. Your mind can become cluttered too.
Intrusive thoughts, an ongoing list of “must-dos”, regrets of missed opportunities, unfinished work, and worries about things that might never happen are all examples of mental clutter that make us feel out of control. The less organized your mind becomes, the less you feel able to deal with the challenges that life throws your way.
There is an endless cycle formed between physical and mental clutter. The more disorganized your mind, the more disorganized your home, workspace, and life in general will become. Meanwhile, if you’re living and working in a cluttered environment, it’s inevitable that your mind will become cluttered and disorganized too. The vicious circle leads to ongoing problems as you lack the ability to break the chain, get rid of the mess and take your life back.
Which Areas of Your Life Does Clutter Affect?
As we’ve already pointed out, clutter affects both your environment and your emotional and mental well-being. Both types of clutter can have a major impact on various areas of your life.
The first obvious area that can feel the impact is your home. Mess can begin to build up as tasks get left undone. Soon, a pile of magazines has grown on the coffee table, a stack of shoes is thrown in the corner in the front porch, and clothes are piled up on the bedroom chairs. The more messy and more disorganized your home becomes, the harder it is to get motivated to sort it out, and the more negative the mental and emotional impact becomes of living in such an environment.
The second key area that is badly affected is the workplace. A lack of organization in the office leads to all kinds of issues. Low productivity, an unprofessional first impression for visitors or clients and poor morale are just some of the problems that arise from a disorganized working environment. Again, once the office has become cluttered, it becomes more difficult to take action to organize it. As the mess mounts up, the worse the associated problems become.
The third area that feels the impact of clutter is your personal relationships. This is something that can often be overlooked when considering the effect of disorganization on your life. A messy home puts a strain on your family life and can lead to serious tensions with your partner, children, or other loved ones.
A disorganized workplace can make working relationships with colleagues, employees, or managers more challenging and can lead to disagreements that cause long-term problems in your career. Not only that, but clutter in friendships can lead to toxicity, further stress and even more obligations that need to fit into your already overloaded schedule.
What Causes Clutter?
There are many causes of clutter. Some are physical, and others are emotional or mental. Some are also a lot more obvious than others.
Perhaps the first, and most obvious cause of clutter has to be excess physical possessions. Most of us are guilty of accumulating items simply because we can’t bear to get rid of them, even if we don’t really want or need them. There are gifts that we’ve received for birthdays and holidays, souvenirs from vacations gone by.
Odds and ends have piled up over the years that should really have gone in the trash but which have, inexplicably, been put in a drawer or on a shelf for later and allowed to remain there. The trouble with this type of clutter is that it builds up slowly over time, so you don’t really realize how much it has gotten out of hand until one day you look around and see the extent of the problem.
The second cause of clutter is having excessive commitments in your schedule. We’ve already mentioned how busy modern lives have become. Whereas in the past, lives were much simpler – people went to work, came home, spent time with their family or their friends and then went to bed ready to do it all again the next day.
These days, there is so much more to consider. Careers have, in many cases, become considerably more high-pressured, with the expectations placed on workers at all levels much higher than ever before. Family lives are also more complex than ever before, with many people having divided or blended families. Struggling to fit in contact with children, dealing with stepchildren or having to handle an ex-partner along with a current one can all increase the pressures on everyday living.
Then, of course, there are all the other elements that weigh on our minds. An endless stream of social media and 24/7 access to the news can easily lead to us becoming overwhelmed with negativity. Meanwhile, we feel the pressure to make the most of our limited leisure time by caving into the demands from friends, colleagues, and family members to attend different events and participate in various activities.
Add to this the additional pressure that we pile on ourselves to work out, to improve ourselves and to be the best that we can be in every respect. It’s no wonder that so many of us struggle to cope as we sink ever-deeper under a heap of obligations, commitments and requirements.