Is clutter damaging your health?

Is clutter damaging your health?

Do you sometimes look at your desk and find it triggering? Surely a bit of mess isn’t harmful to your health. Or is it? It turns out Marie Kondo did have a point about “sparking joy”.

Researchers have looked into the effect of clutter on the human body and mind, and the findings have been startling.

The impact of clutter on mental health is two-fold. Firstly, clutter is visually distracting and deprives the brain of working memory that could otherwise be used to complete tasks or focus on problem-solving. Secondly, our brains prefer order, and clutter serves as a reminder that there is disorder. It triggers the release of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, and pushes a person into fight-or-flight mode.

To avoid dealing with clutter, people use several coping strategies such as procrastination, doom scrolling, or eating comfort food to avoid dealing with the issue. All of these have onward effects on our health, such as heightened anxiety, poor sleep, weight gain, and even heart and blood pressure problems. Extreme hoarding restricts the amount of space we have in our living area and can lead to injuries from tripping on objects or having objects falling on us. 

So where do you start with decluttering? 

The biggest tip is not to overwhelm yourself - start small. Start with a shelf in the pantry, a kitchen drawer, or a desk. 

Let’s take the example of a desk. A couple of easy things you can do to lessen the clutter:

  • File away all papers that you would like to keep (statements, bills, tax returns, etc). If possible, store electronic copies and safely dispose of the paper copies.
  • Shred and recycle all other papers and dispose of trash on your desk (pamphlets, lolly wrappers, etc).
  • Return unused stationery to their storage places (pens, pencils, staplers, rulers, etc). You don’t need a large range of stationery on your desk on a day-to-day basis.
  • Pack up things that can be donated, put them in your car, and take them to the charity as soon as practicable. For other items where you are uncertain, put them in a box marked “maybe”, date it and in three months if you don’t miss the items, dispose. 

That’s the easy part. What about all the accouterments of the work-from-home crowd; things like hubs, hard disks, cables, etc? 

TwelveSouth has a great range of accessories to help, including the BackPack and HiRise Pro.

The BackPack is easy to install and has a stable shelf where you can neatly stack hard drives and hubs. The included strap holds them secure. It also comes with cable ties so that cables can be kept out of sight. 

The HiRise Pro adds a storage shelf under your iMac so you can store whatever knick-knacks you like (or even a Mac Mini).

The path to tidiness need not be so hard after all.