Does Clutter Cause Stress?

| March 22, 2012 | 10 Comments

As I listen to my favorite calming music this evening (Whisperings Piano Radio), I look around at my apartment and it seems to fit the music. Just like the solo piano music, this room calms me. It’s obvious to me where that feeling of calm is coming from. It’s the simplicity of it. The sort of minimalistic presence in here. The subject seems to be worth digging deeper into.

Clutter. Why Don’t I Have It?

For some reason, I just can’t stand clutter. My apartment still has the same amount of stuff in it that it did 4 years ago, only a few months after I moved in. This is partially due to me just being on my own and in the stressful real world, getting myself into debt, not feeling right about being in debt and finally getting smart about my finances. I just quit buying things. Sure, I buy consumables, but I honestly am not crazy about new toys anymore. So once I stopped buying things, lived for a while (a few years), then looked back and noticed I didn’t have anything new, it dawned on me that I don’t need those things to be happy. I also realized that I actually LIKE living in an apartment that is not full of junk.

What About My Car?

My car, if you would go look at it right now, would probably shock you because of how clean it is. It has:

  • A brand new coat of wax on the paint
  • Freshly vacuumed carpet
  • Conditioned leather seats
  • A brand new leather scented air freshener

Sure, I spent a lot of time getting it that way. But, when I drive my car, open the sunroof and put on the music, I feel like the king of the road. I think my car drives better when it’s polished up, clean and smelling good. It makes me feel better too! I absolutely LOVE going for a drive right now!

Oh, But I Bet Your Office Is a Mess. Nope.

In fact, my office is so tidy and clean that it looks down right boring. Several of my co-workers have come in and told me that I need to do something with the place. Yes, I agree that I should spice it up a bit, but the fact that it’s clean, picked up and organized is on purpose.

It took me 5 years to figure out how to get my work environment in shape. A few years ago, I got into a Post It Note love affair, where I bought a bunch of them and would use them anytime I had to write something down. It got so bad that I would write out about 20 or 30 of them each day, eventually having to stack them on top of each other, until the stack was pretty large.

What’s the big deal you may be asking? It made my desk and work area a complete mess. On top of that, I could never find the Post It Note I was looking for, when I needed it. After probably a year or more of using those little sticky notes, I severed my ties with them. I now use a nice leather portfolio folder with a legal type notepad inside of it with a pen holder attached. This enables me to keep a full day’s worth of “Post It” type notes on 1, 2 or maybe 3 pages of paper. I list the date at the top of every page along with the page’s title, so I can find it later.

After the pages are all torn out (I have to tear them out to use the next one), I keep them bunched together until eventually, I organize them by topic, and then file them away in my file cabinet. It’s kind of  a crazy system, but it’s one that works to keep my desk, workspace and office very clutter free.

Like the advice I gave on Organizing and De-Cluttering Your Apartment, I manage to keep my office clean in the same way. I spend a little time at the beginning and at the end of my workday:

  • Throwing out all garbage
  • Organizing all my notes and to-do-lists from the day or week
  • Putting away my cups, snacks, coffee cup and take-home supplies

Just 2 minutes each morning and each afternoon can keep your workspace or office tidy, uncluttered and stress free.

The Results of Keeping Your Stuff Picked Up and Clean

It rocks. Take it from me. No matter where I am throughout my day, at home in the morning sipping my coffee reading and commenting on blog posts, at the office trying to execute on our company’s business strategy, in my car taking a drive with the windows open and music turned up or at home eating something tasty and home cooked while writing a blog post, I can rest assured that stress from clutter isn’t present. Sure, it takes work to keep my stuff picked up, but living without clutter, without crap laying everywhere, without any garbage sitting on my desk or table and with a nice fragrance in the air, just flat out rocks.

How’s your living and working spaces? Are they terribly cluttered, in the middle or tidy and picked up like mine? How does that make you feel?

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Category: Getting Organized

Comments (10)

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  1. Amy says:

    For me, a messy house leaves me on edge. Before I go to bed, go to work or go on a trip I always like to make sure things are picked up and put away. There is nothing worse than waking up to a messy house or coming home to one. I always try to put things away right away. I don’t wait and let things pile up and then put them away.

    Good recommendations Kraig!

  2. Daisy says:

    Clutter definitely causes me a lot of stress; I cant focus if there’s clutter around. It’s not the most productive environment.

  3. Clutter drives me crazy! My wife says am anal but I know what I dont like and clutter is fits the bill. Especially in drawers. What bothers me more than clutter is people seeing it and leaving it the way it is.

  4. Michelle says:

    I can’t stand when my house is cluttered! I want to pull my hair out. Even if I can’t see it (like my kids’ bedrooms upstairs) but know they’re a mess, it bugs me. I’ve actually told them before that if they don’t keep their toys off the floor, I’m going to come up with a trash bag! Works like a charm every time ;)

  5. Katie says:

    I cannot stand clutter. It drives me insane! Since I’ve had kids I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that my house will never be perfect, but it will also never me cluttered. You’re right, a couple minutes a day can keep the clutter minimized.

  6. Kari@Small Budget Big Dreams says:

    I just wrote a similar post about the crazy clutter in my life. Clutter definitely causes me stress and as a result I’m trying to get rid of all the clutter before we move to our new place.

  7. Clutter does cause stress. i try to keep clutter out of my life when ever possible

  8. Carrie Smith says:

    This totally sounds like me to a T (hey that rhymes). My car is always immaculate (except right after a rainstorm) and my apartment looks the same it did when I moved into it 3 years ago. My office at work is always very neat, even in the middle of projects. I have OCD so that’s probably where most of it comes from, but it’s just too stressful to have clutter around.

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