There’s a scene in the film Limitless, when Bradley Cooper takes the drug to help him fully utilise his brain for the first time and one of the first things he does is clean all the piled up dishes and mess in his apartment and create a tranquil clutter free space. The implication is that your brain works better when the rest of your life isn’t a mess.
Research at Princeton University backs this idea up. MRI scans were used to demonstrate that our brains crave order and we process information and are more productive in clear ordered spaces. The more objects there are to pay attention to, the harder our brain has to work to filter them out (remember all those Where’s Wally cartoons?).
Libby Sander writing in the Harvard Business Review in 2019 describes how living in cluttered spaces can have a negative effect on our stress levels making us more anxious, less focused, even less able to sleep. Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in our homes can make us procrastinate more so we don’t get things done.
If you want to be more focused, get more done, sleep better and feel less overwhelmed you could try to create a tranquil sense of order in your physical environment and you could take this idea a step further to consider clearing out unnecessary ways you spend your time, for example, time spent on social media or Netflix or shopping online that is stopping you form doing the one thing that you really want to get done.
I love the following quote from the American actress Amy Poelher:
“I am a firm believer that every few years one needs to shake one’s life through a sieve, like a miner in the Yukon. The gold nuggets remain. The rest falls through like the soft earth it is.”
If you decided to take a sieve and strip your life back to where only the gold nuggets remain, what would you shake right through the sieve? What is stopping you getting things done? What makes you feel overwhelmed, anxious or depressed? What can you do without?