My Number 1 Trick For More Focus & Less Stress

It´s no secret that deadlines, money problems and competing responsibilities can cause a lot of the stress we feel, but did you know that all that clutter piling up on your kitchen counter, in your closets and throughout your office can be a hidden cause of stress as well?

The good news is…

Experiencing less stress in your life may be as simple as getting rid of all that excess stuff! 

Recently I read about a study done at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute in 2011 where they examined the effect of clutter on the brain. According to a study  called Interactions of Top-Down and Bottom-Up Mechanisms in the Human Visual Cortex, clutter does more than just take up space in our homes and our offices.

Clutter limits the brain’s ability to focus and process information.

In fact, the study concluded that people who limited clutter at home and at work were actually less irritable, less distracted and more productive!

Less stress and more focus…isn´t that we´re all after?!

That said, though – I have to admit, I´ve always been a bit of “neat-freak” so when I read about the Princeton study I started thinking about the different ways I go about weeding out and organizing all the stuff a family of five manages to come up with over time…

Let´s take a look:

Start Small

If you’ve been living with too much stuff for a long time, you probably feel overwhelmed at the thought of going through your things. Maybe you’re uncertain about how to even begin. Start out by setting small cleaning and organizing goals.

  • Avoid setting an unrealistic goal of cleaning your whole house overnight. Set small goals, like organizing a desk or closet. As you experience success on a small scale, you’ll receive the boost in confidence that you need to continue your efforts.
  • Once you’ve established order to a small space, keep going. Build upon your success. After your drawers and closets, focus on cleaning an entire room. Clean and organize one room at a time until your entire home is filled only with necessary items that you use on a regular basis.

Be Ruthless!

If you haven’t worn or used an item in a year or longer, do you really still need it? Get rid of duplicate items, as well as worn out and broken things that you haven’t fixed.

  • Items received as gifts from loved ones can be particularly difficult to part with, especially if the loved one is now deceased. Take the time to acknowledge your loss, but realize that holding on to your loved one’s possessions won’t bring them back.
  • One option that may make it easier to part with an item and honor your loved one’s memory, is to sell the item and donate the proceeds to their favorite charity.
  • If you feel guilty at the thought of throwing an item away, consider donating it if it’s still in good condition. This boosts your energy and self-esteem, in addition to getting rid of your clutter!

Become a “Quick Pick-up” Pro

This is something I started doing when the kids were young and it´s one of the ways I stay sane when I have tons of things going on all at once…

Set the tone for your day by spending 15 minutes straightening the central areas of your home each morning. 

  • Make your bed, wash any dirty dishes, and eliminate clutter from the living room, counters, and kitchen table.
  • Reverse this strategy at work, and clear your desk before you leave at the end of the day.
  • By removing the clutter from these key areas, you’ll feel more calm and relaxed as you get on with your day.

Anyone Up For A Bout Of Spring Cleaning?

Having too much stuff isn´t just visually distracting, it slows you down and adds to your daily stress levels. Sorting through things out, tossing what you don´t need and organizing what you do may take a bit of time to do but that bit of time is a terrific investment!

In my experience, getting rid of the junk and putting things in order not only puts you back in control of your life, it actually helps you save time! 

So, what are you waiting for?! 

Start using these simple strategies today. Make them part of your everyday routine. Believe me, you´ll be amazed at how much more relaxed, focused and effective you can be!


About the Author Jan Marie Mueller

Jan Marie Mueller is founder of the inspirational blog ThinkBrilliantly and The Brilliance Community, a free Facebook group dedicated to empowering women to let their inner brilliance shine! Her mission is to help women everywhere shift the way they think about themselves, their world and those around them so they have the confidence to do, be and have what they want most in life!

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