I’ve read about clutter’s effect on our brains in several places, but most recently I came across it on an article on the fabulous blog, The Unclutterer. Research has shown that people who live in clutter don’t focus as well as those who live in uncluttered spaces. The Princeton University Neuroscience Institute conducted a study and published its findings in “Interactions of Top-Down and Bottom-Up Mechanisms in Human Visual Cortex.” In it they say:
“Multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation by mutually suppressing their evoked activity throughout visual cortex, providing a neural correlate for the limited processing capacity of the visual system.”
In other words—Dawn, go clear off all your countertops and throw everything away so your brain will work better. It’s science!
Evaluate your house. How many blank spaces do you see? Perhaps you need to take down some pictures from the wall? Make the beds regularly—lovely, flat, solid spaces rather than a heap of blankets, clothes, pillows, jammies. Do your best to keep the table and kitchen counters cleaned off. Try to give everything a place. If it has none, consider tossing it or donating it. What about the floors? Just doing a quick sweep of kids' junk off the floor makes me feel more like a real person and less like an animal in the wild. Making the kids do it is even better.
A good possibility for a blank space is the fridge. I used to love having cute things on my fridge. Now I love it for a day and then wince at it for a few days. Then I throw it out, or if it makes the rare cut, I’ll put it away somewhere I can see it again, or write down any information I need from it in another place—like on my computer calendar. I’m not unsentimental—I do keep some of the boys’ artwork and certificates and I take pictures of some of their schoolwork, but I don’t want ALL OF IT RIGHT NOW, IN MY EYES!
I keep all kids refrigerator magnets under the kitchen sink in a plastic container because I can’t handle looking at (and stepping on) them. I’ll take them out for 20 minutes of fun for Teddy and then put them away.
We have a huge white board that we all write and draw on. I try to have the boys clean it off once or twice a week and that alone usually provides us with a day or two of a mostly empty wall. Blank space helps me breathe.
Work on filling your small house with calming blank spaces to counteract those areas where visible stuff is absolutely necessary.
So, to summarize in confusing ways: Less is more. Nothing is everything. Nothingness makes our brains work better. Nothing makes me happy.
Have a wonderful Wednesday and go make some blank space somewhere!