by Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph. D.
Do you look around your home and wonder how it got so full of knick-knacks or your office and ask yourself how it got to be so buried in neglected piles of paper? What about your calendar? Is it filled with endless appointments stretching out indefinitely into the future? Is your email inbox so overflowing that you don’t even feel like venturing in to try to address all but the biggest emergencies? All of this clutter, physical and mental, can interrupt your flow—both of your ability to move and your ability to think. It also turns out that your well-being also becomes victim to what we might call the “clutter effect.” A collection of new or recent studies on stress, life satisfaction, physical health, and cognition all speak to the value of streamlining.
When we think of cluttering, the first association many people have is with the inside of a hoarder’s home. However, short of hoarding, cluttering can more simply involve the accumulation of more possessions than can fit into the available space. If you have a lifetime of memorabilia strewn around the rooms of a 25-room mansion, all will fit comfortably onto shelves and tables. It’s entirely a different matter if that same amount of stuff ends up in a cramped two-bedroom apartment.
A relatively recent investigation on perceptions of the environment and well-being examined the set of relationships among clutter in the home and subjective well-being. University of New Mexico’s Catherine Roster and colleagues (2016) examined how clutter compromises the individual’s perception of home and ultimately feelings of satisfaction with life. The underlying premise of the study was that because many people identify so closely with their home environments, the extent to which it’s cluttered can interfere with the pleasure they experience when being in that environment.
by Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph. D. Do you look around your home and wonder how it got so full of knick-knacks or your off...