6 Ways Clutter is Hurting Your Happiness, Your Productivity & Your Health

I recently wrote about the negative impact of clutter on your business and professional life. The toll it takes is so significant that we should all be constantly aware of what doesn’t fit the vision and seek new ways to either eliminate or minimize what does not belong.

Let’s continue with the clutter theme and how it relates to your physical and digital environments. There is simply too much noise flooding our five senses every single day. It overstimulates and stresses us out; often to the point that we can’t function at our best.

If you need a reason to declutter your life, or simply a good place to start, then consider these six forms of clutter.

1) Visual Clutter
Visual overload is a big problem for many of people. It’s easy to let things like papers pile up in your office, car or living space until you can’t take it anymore and have to purge and file away.

Whatever your visual clutter may be, research has shown that a cluttered environment affects your ability to focus and to process new information. Plus, it adds a lot of unnecessary stress.

2) Aroma Clutter
Your sense of smell has a measurable impact on how you feel. Consider the world of aromatherapy, where certain scents like peppermint can reduce mental fatigue, while lavender can promote sleep. Researchers have even found that the smell of cleaning products can promote generosity and fairness.

Whether or not you realize it, the smells in your physical space can influence the way you think, feel and live.

3) Auditory Clutter
Our ears are sensitive. We all have our own sound preferences (i.e. music) but we still need to be conscious of the noises in our environment.

Don Campbell and Alex Doman, authors of Healing at the Speed of Sound, discovered through their work that, “empty sound–the noise of a coffee grinder or of traffic outside–consists of a chaotic pattern of sound waves that, when interacting with your auditory system, cause your brain and body to respond in chaotic ways.”

Do you need to mellow out the sounds in your life?

4) Calendar Clutter
How is your schedule looking these days? Is your calendar filled with meetings, appointments and other commitments that leave little time for rest or for getting done what really matters to you?

A full schedule can make you feel productive and important. When it’s empty, you may think you’re wasting your time and getting left behind by life. You might even be a little embarrassed to tell someone that your calendar is ‘wide open’ if you don’t have much booked.

While it feels good to be busy, it’s not good for your health or your productivity.

5) Communication Clutter
How many emails, text messages, phone calls and meetings do you have every day? Add in all the marketing messages, social media checking and web browsing, and you’re primed for total overload.

It gets even worse when your email, text or voicemail inboxes are always full of unreturned or unmanaged messages. It’s nothing but a constant reminder of busyness and a non-stop stressor that makes you worry about missing something.

It just doesn’t feel good to have a hundred open loops that are waiting for your attention.

6) Stuff Clutter
A lot of people simply have way too much stuff. Often times, you don’t even realize it until it’s time to pack up and move. At which point you ask yourself, “How did I accumulate all of this?!”

It fills our drawers and our closets until they explode. It brings no fulfillment, yet it feels so hard to let it go.

The Anti-Clutter Challenge
OK, it’s honesty time – I’m a chronic clutterer.

I haven’t written this as a conqueror, coming back from a victory to tell you how I did it. I’m writing it as a fellow struggler, challenging myself to de-clutter.

If you’re willing, I want you to join me.

Whether your clutter is from too little focus in your business, a challenging client that isn’t the right fit, or too many sensory stressors in your physical or digital space, it could be hurting your happiness, your productivity and your health.

I’m not promising that getting rid of some clutter will magically solve your problems or give you unlimited opportunities. However, I do promise that it will make you feel better and that it will help create a little extra room that frees you up to live a more purposeful and enjoyable life.

How will you declutter today?

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