How Clutter Affects You Mentally, According to Science

A dining table that holds ten days’ worth of mail; a magazine rack that is overflowing; stairs have become an obstacle course: if this is how your house looks like, you’re in dire need of clutter control.

This may seem trivial, but having too much clutter at home not only makes it difficult to get things done but can also drain and frustrate you. Unless you throw away some stuff and store others in a self-storage facility, clutter can cause you unnecessary stress, as well. (Note: When looking for a self-storage unit, Bond Storage suggests looking for a facility with the latest security systems.)

What Does Science Say?

According to neuroscientists at Princeton University, clutter affects your ability to concentrate and process information. It bombards your mind with excessive stimuli (e.g. visual, tactile, olfactory), causing your senses to work overtime unnecessarily. The researchers came to this conclusion after looking at people’s ability to perform a task in an organized vs. disorganized environment.

The researchers said that clutter sends signals to your brain that your work is never done.

A UCLA Centre on Everyday Lives and Families study, on the other hand, showed that clutter could significantly affect an individual’s self-esteem and mood.

When is Clutter Too Much?

The level of tolerable clutter may vary from person to person.

So, how do you know if the clutter in your home is too much? If you find yourself repeating phrases like, “I might need this someday,” or “I can’t just throw this away, it’s so useful!” you may be suffering from too much clutter.

These questions may also help you draw the line on clutter:

  • Can your space be guest-ready after 15 minutes of cleaning?
  • Are your things where they should be, with the space organized enough that you can find everything you need without having to search for it?
  • Is your home draining your energy instead of helping you relax?

If you answered no to these questions, you probably have too much clutter, as Julie Morgenstern writes in her book Organizing from the Inside Out.

Obviously, outer cleanliness and organization contribute to inner calm – more than it should. Getting rid of clutter gives a significant boost to your happiness, so get start sorting out the overflowing wardrobe you’ve been ignoring.