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Redemption: Clutter Actually Has Its Benefits

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 9.50.16 AMMy business partner, Paige, sent me a link to an article in OrganicLife magazine titled “The Surprising Health Benefits Of Clutter.” Very few people know me as well as Paige does. We have worked together for 20 years. Paige knows that I am one of those people who organizes visually. If items are filed away, I’ll never find them. I like things out and accessible – and that means stacks of “clutter” on my desk at the office. Honestly, I even have a few stacks of stuff under my desk. Once when I was traveling on business, years ago, Paige decided she was going to organize my office for me. Although extremely well-intended, it was a huge failure. I spent the next six moths trying to find things that were once at my finger tips.

Paige knew I would be intrigued, and perhaps vindicated, when I read this article from OrganicLife. Could it be that a messy work environment is actually good for you?

According to a 2013 study published in Psychological Science, researchers from the University of Michigan found that environmental disorder actually stimulates creativity. As part of the study, students were asked to complete tasks that involved coming up with new ideas, and the ones who had a greater number of ideas—and more innovative ones at that—had been working in a messy area.” (“The Surprising Health Benefits of Clutter,” OrganicLife, January 21, 2016.)

Maybe we should learn to relax a little and live with some degree of clutter. Would we be happier and less stressed if we didn’t feel the pressure to keep things in an immaculate state?

“So instead of worrying that you’re too disorganized, or spending endless hours attempting to perfectly arrange every pillow on the couch and every shoe by the front door, relax. When it’s time to clean, look at What The Buddhists Can Teach Us About Household Chores, and approach your tasks without anxiety about getting everything done. If you’ve got too many clothes, by all means, feel free to purge. But don’t worry that you’re not living your best life because there’s paper on your desk, dishes in the sink, or clothes on the floor. A cluttered house can be the sign a well-lived life.” (“The Surprising Health Benefits of Clutter,” OrganicLife, January 21, 2016.)

I believe some of this focus on the benefits of clutter is a response to the overwhelming popularity of Marie Kondo’s best selling book, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying-Up. I actually read the book and it inspired me to do some tidying-up and purging at home. It felt good. But after 30 years in the workforce, I have not found anything that is going to help me create a tidy office. Maybe the folks at the University of Michigan are onto something!

2 comments on “Redemption: Clutter Actually Has Its Benefits

  1. Truly enjoyed this article.

  2. It would be good if one learns to relax a little and live with some degree of clutter, but the question is still there would it make you happier and less stressed?

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