Clutter affects all of us, in one way or another. The term refers to accumulated physical items that interfere with your daily life but provide no inherent value. These items are usually innocuous, providing no immediately visible negative effect, so people tend to keep them around, rather than disposing of them. They might exist in the form of clothes in your closet, papers on your desk or books on your shelf—and they could have a negative effect on your focus and wellbeing.
Decluttering, the art of removing these unnecessary interfering items, has become something of a lifestyle trend (especially among millennials), though it’s always existed in the form of “spring cleaning” and similar initiatives. However, decluttering should be more than just a fad, as there are empirical benefits to decluttering—in both personal and professional environments.
The Big Benefits of Going Clutter-Free
So, what should you hope to improve by decluttering in your personal or professional life?
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- Better focus. Evidence suggests that when multiple visual stimuli are competing for your attention, you have a harder time narrowing your focus to only one of them. That means the clutter in your life is making you unfocused. You’ll have a harder time staying on task at work, and you won’t be as “present” in your home life, either. Decluttering brings better focus back to your world.
- Catharsis. Depending on the types of items you’re removing from your life, decluttering could serve as a kind of catharsis, or releasing of pent-up emotions. For example, if your mother bought you a dress you don’t particularly like, but you’ve kept it for many years anyway, getting rid of it could help you feel more in control and more independent. The act of decluttering is also shown to have a positive effect on your mental state, making you feel accomplished. Try it for yourself, and you’ll likely find the same thing.
- Money. Don’t forget that decluttering often means selling valuable items you no longer need in your life. Bigger items, like junk cars, can be scrapped for a sizable profit, and smaller items can be sold at a garage sale or something similar for a few extra dollars. You won’t get rich this way, but everybody could use a little extra money in their pockets.
- Aesthetic improvement. Finally, removing some of the extra clutter in your house and at the office will give you a healthier, more appealing aesthetic. Minimalistic environments are much better to look at than cluttered ones, so you, your family and your guests will feel more relaxed in your home.