Clutter

5 Simple Clutter-Clearing Tricks That’ll Boost Your Brain Power, Too

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With the family all stuck indoors these days, the house can feel like it’s turned into a cluttered mess quick! So we can’t think of a better time to get a head start on all that spring cleaning. As an added bonus, these tidying tactics can enhance mood, slash anxiety, improve focus, and more!

Boost creativity with eye-pleasing greens.

“Gazing at nature is so restorative because it engages our senses without overly taxing our attention, a phenomenon known as ‘soft fascination,’” reveals environmental psychologist Ann S. Devlin, Ph.D. Fostering this relaxed-yet focused state of mind with houseplants also helps us effortlessly organize. That’s because we naturally resist cluttering areas filled with joy-inducing greens. Bottom line: If a table or surface in your home is a stubborn “stuff magnet,” just add a plant or two as a mess-preventative.

Curb junk-food cravings with a makeover sprint.

Taking just 10 minutes to, say, put away one pile of clothes or return five items to the rooms where they belong “can give you more motivation than a week of dieting,” promises Breininger. “Small stretches of decluttering trigger the release of endorphins that help lift depression and quash emotional eating.”

Slash stress with circles.

From the hopeful arc of the horizon to the sweet round face of a baby, we’re drawn to soft curves because they signal safety. In fact, studies show we feel happier in spaces decorated with circular touches like round throw pillows. To tap the organizational benefit of this principle, consider corralling bills or mail that needs attention in a rounded tray — just seeing the soothing shape tames stress and increases working memory, which typically takes a hit when we’re dealing with tension-spiking paperwork.

Reach deeper sleep with an eye-level swipe.

Clutter dials up anxiety by reminding us of looming to-do’s. Nowhere does this “tomorrow tension” have a bigger effect than in the bedroom. “When our brain is overstimulated, our worries keep us up,” says organizer Dorothy Breininger. Just look around your bedroom. Are there papers signaling “work”? Relocating them will prime you for rest. “It’s why we feel calm in a hotel room — the surfaces are neat.” Borrowing this trick for areas at eye-level creates a sleep haven.

Melt morning tension with a go-to closet.

The volume of decisions we make over the course of the day increases stress. Nip this mental fatigue in the bud by organizing your closet by mood instead of clothing type, says Breininger. “I worked with an artist, and we divided her closet into categories like ‘creative grubbies’ for making art and ‘cheerful casuals’ that made her happy.” This way, when you open your closet, you don’t have to overtax the decision-making part of your brain — you just have to feel.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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