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You may not have considered the effect that a disorganized living or working space can have on your mental health. The organization, or lack thereof, of your home or office, is crucially important to your state of mind and mental clarity. That mass of papers on your desk. The bottles or cups that need to be recycled or washed. Laundry that’s been piling up for days or weeks. All of these things can take a toll on your wellbeing over time.

You may have seen clips from the popular television show “Hoarders,” in which film crews document the homes and lives of so-called hoarders who live in houses full of unorganized clutter. Unsurprisingly, these people are usually not mentally healthy. The researchers concluded that intense negative emotional reactions are associated with hoarding. You don’t necessarily need to qualify clinically as a hoarder, though, to benefit from a decluttering effort.

Here is how and why decluttering can help you regain clarity, focus, and peace of mind.

How Does Decluttering Help You Focus?
Psychologists note that humans have evolved to look for patterns and to find comfort in them. An organized office or living space provides this kind of pattern structure in which things are located where they “should be,” and the area is free of debris that detracts from the pattern. Decluttering helps specifically with focus because, as humans, we are easily distracted into multi-tasking, the act of focusing on multiple issues at one time. While multi-tasking serves its purpose when uncontrolled, it can massively reduce your ability to work productively because your attention is divided. We are naturally drawn to focus our attention on clutter because our minds see the disorganization as a problem that must be addressed. This can take a massive toll on our productivity over time.

Hoarding and Anxiety
Mental health professionals have long believed that hoarding is linked to anxiety. Clutter can make anxiety worse by raising anxiety levels.

The Minimalist Approach
As consumers in America, we almost all have collected possession, trinkets, and gadgets that we could do without. We would be better off mentally without them, research shows.

Decluttering for a Better Life
You may have never even thought about the impact of clutter on your mental health. Now that you know, take a few moments out of your day to organize your home or office and discard anything that you don’t need or want. Your brain will thank you.