Tidying Up Frenzy

The show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” hit Netflix on New Years Day, urging people to tidy up and throw out anything that doesn’t bring you joy. Organizational expert Marie Kondo encourages a minimalistic lifestyle surrounding by only objects that truly give you a sense of joy. An appropriate to start off 2019, her show possibly caused an uptick in donationsto consignment and thrift shops as people rid their homes of objects that do not bring them joy.

It’s no secret that we as human beings like looking at neat, organized spaces. Online, the r/oddlysatisfying subreddit, which is filled with pictures and videos that are visually satisfying, has close to 3 million subscribers. If you want to scroll pages upon pages of beautifully neat cabinets, graphics, and kitchens, #organization hashtag has over 1.5 million posts on Instagram.

So we enjoy looking at satisfying, clutter-free spaces and enjoy watching people declutter their lives. Harmless, right? The other side of the coin is that these escapes may just temporarily distract us from our own messy, cluttered homes and lives. Seeing decluttered spaces temporarily satisfies us to some extent, but what effect does living in these same cluttered spaces have on our mental health?

The Psychology of Organization

A study led by associate professor NiCole R. Keith, Ph.D., at Indiana University offers some insight into this question. By following the health of 998 middle-aged African Americans, who are at an overall higher risk of cardiovascular health problems, she found that participants who kept cleaner homes were both more active and healthier than those who didn’t. Her study concluded that the cleanliness of a participant’s home was more of a predictor for health and activity level than sidewalks, lighting, neighborhood walkability, and other factors that restrict physical activity.

So do physically active people keep cleaner homes, or is the act of cleaning their home regularly physical activity? Are people who are healthy overall just more likely to keep a clean house, or are they healthier because their homes are clean?

Another study out of Princeton found may provide more insight. They found a correlation between how people described their home and whether or not home feels stressful or calming, following daily patterns of mood and cortisol levels. They found that “the way that people described their homes may reflect whether or their time at home feels restorative or stressful.” Simply put, if they women in the study described their homes with “messy,” “cluttered”, or other negative adjectives, they were more likely to find their time at home to be stressful and have a more depressed mood over the course of the day.

Additionally, this study published in the Official Journal of the Society For Neuroscience concludes that clutter makes it more difficult to concentrate on a particular task because there are too much stimuli competing for your attention at once. Have you ever tried to do work or homework in a messy living room or bedroom and just found yourself thinking back about needing to cleaning the room?

So excessive clutter is bad for you, and people who keep clean homes may be healthier (or maybe healthy people keep clean homes). What can you do about it?

Less Things = Less Clutter

Clutter is defined as “a state or condition of confusion.” Clutter is distracting and makes it hard to concentrate. It might even make your home stress you out more instead of being a relaxing getaway from the rest of the world. Your home should be a place of relief, not a constant reminder of more you need to do.

While skeptical of any claim for a totally joy-filled, stress-free life by getting rid of extra clutter, Kondo has a valid point in that it’s difficult to have a cluttered house without *stuff* to clutter it with. If you have too much shoes and clothes to fit in your closet, they will look cluttered and imposing even when organized. The solution isn’t to have a bigger closet to fill up with more clothes and shoes, but to go through your outfits and decide what you really love and want to keep.

All Members of the Household Do their Part

If you are the only person who cleans the home, it can be even more stressful because you spend all your “free time” cleaning up after the messes of others (Psst: we covered how to split chores in another article here). Chore calendars can be helpful tools in managing the household tasks so that everything gets done fairly.

It’s worth noting that “fair” doesn’t always mean exactly equal. If one person works more than another, it may make sense that whoever spends more time at home and make more messes should have more clean-up. Teenagers and older children should have more responsibilities than younger children. If only one person in the household cooks and eats at home, it makes sense that all dishwashing should fall to them.

Hire a Professional Cleaning Company

A professional cleaning company can be immensely helpful in managing the deep-cleaning (like showers and baseboards) that you may never get around to. It doesn’t have to be a big expense, either – you can hire a cleaning company for one-time cleanings, weekly, monthly, or however often suits your needs and budget.

We are Bates Cleaning Service, a reputable and reliable residential and commercial cleaning service company in Austin, Cedar Park, and surrounding areas!