The Messy Room, Messy Mind Principle
I was never a tidy person until I moved into my own home – funnily enough, once I started paying my own rent, I took a lot more pride in my space. My mother used to tell my chronically disorganized teenage self that a messy room equalled a messy mind, and, as tends to happen, my adult self quickly learned the wisdom my teenage self glossed over. Now that I’ve wound up as a crusader for organization and space optimization, working at a junk removal company, she’s having a good chuckle…but has mercifully refrained from the I-told-you-so’s.
The messy room/messy mind parallel isn’t just another unfounded old wive’s tale (no mom, I did NOT just call you old). The ancient principles of zen and feng shui rely on clear, uncluttered spaces to promote mental order – the feng shui approach states that clutter traps energy, stopping the flow that a well balanced space facilitates. Essentially, there’s no room for clarity of thought if there’s a constant threat of tripping over a pile of heels. The energy gets stuck and, apparently, you get tired, vaguely confused and possibly irritable, and you’re more prone to procrastination…which, yeah, sounds pretty accurate.
Here’s another one for you: clutter takes work – a lot of it, as a matter of fact. You’re forced to deal with it every day as you navigate your bedroom floor (pre-coffee, at that!), or when you spend a solid eight and a half minutes pawing through stacks of paper in your “filing system” (read: random stack of papers that you shuffle every so often so it looks neat-ish) to find the one document you need for your next meeting. With the majority of North Americans reporting an increase in time poverty, most of us are looking for ways to squeeze more minutes out of the day; each extra minute we spend picking through clutter is another minute just plain wasted. Rather counterproductive, no?
As I’m currently finding out, moving is an excellent time to take a scorched earth approach to decluttering (oh, the bags that have gone to consignment!), but it’s certainly not the only option. Even the time-pinched should be able to spare 15 minutes to sort through a pile of mail, toss the junk and file the important stuff, or fold the clean laundry that’s been sitting in the basket for a week. More space isn’t necessarily the answer, but less junk in a more organized space could definitely help.
One last note: I don’t take a modernist approach to my home. I have no desire to have a completely stripped down, streamlined space – I like a little bit of comfort clutter. A pile of cushions, a stack of magazines, my own ever-evolving collection of tiny owl statues…whatever it may be that makes your home feel a little more like home. But recognizing that those things are serving a purpose, and the ones in the back of the closet or the boxes on top of the bookshelves are not, is an important distinction.
Here are some great links to get you started on your decluttering adventure! (If I say it like that, maybe it’ll be more fun, right?):