Sure, some of may have heard that a messy desk is a sign of genius, but as your parents always tell you, clutter isn’t healthy. This is because your well-being could become victim to the “clutter effect”, which relates to stress, life satisfaction, physical health, and cognition. Recent scientific studies have revealed how clutter compromises an individual’s perception of home, and ultimately feelings of satisfaction with life. Here’s what they found if you have a messy life:
1. You Eat More Junk Food
Do you realise that you actually eat more junk food if your kitchen is chaotic? A recent study showed that those who were disorganised and messy ate twice as much junk food as those in a non-chaotic kitchen. This could be because they’re more stressed by the mess.
2. Your Room is Your Enemy
Having too many things in too small a space in your room will make you confuse your room’s identity. Your room should be a retreat from the outside world, and a messy room makes it feel like the enemy, not a friend.
3. You Have Higher Stress Levels
Everyone is familiar with the idea that an uncluttered room creates a calm and zen environment which is good for ‘mental hygiene’. One research on workplace satisfaction found that while being able to personalise their surroundings is beneficial, when their environment become cluttered, the employees were less efficient. This means that feeling stressed from a cluttered table is enough to cause anyone’s mental hygiene to deteriorate – as you’ve probably experienced yourself when you can’t find that thesis you worked so hard for is lost under that pile of mess.
4. You Can’t Process Emotions Well
It’s hard to read people’s emotions when they’re surrounded with clutter. In movies, you don’t find messy backgrounds to detract from the actor’s emotions, so the same applies in real life. For an experiment, try and gauge what your messy professor (we all know one) is feeling when they’re seated at their messy desk.
5. Your Memory Suffers
You’ve probably experienced ‘mental clutter’, a feeling when you can’t seem to focus on one thing. It’s especially prevalent if you’re a messy person since everything around you wants your attention. With mental clutter, in theory, you’ll be slower and less efficient in processing information – it’s a leading cause of old-age memory loss. This translates to compromised short-term memory tasks (Did you forget to return the library book? Did you forget the speaker’s name?), as well as long-term mental exercises where you may struggle to remember things you should already know because you have a million things in your head, but you can’t pick out a single one of them.
So do your poor brain a favour, and get rid of the clutter – in your home, your desk. You may just realise how a clean environment is so important to being happy.