We are true believers that order brings peace, but what are the other benefits of being organized? Having peace in your life is great, but what if we told you that order promotes a healthier lifestyle.
We have talked previously about how your clutter is costing you, whether it’s late bills or wasted time, but today we are looking more into the subconscious consequences. The clutter on your counters is not only an eye sore but is truly affecting your decision-making. Today we will look into more ways your clutter is affecting your life in ways you never really thought of.
Your environment and mindset
Your mind is affected by the environment it is in. For example, we are happier and more motivated when it is a nice sunny day outside rather than cold and rainy. This is also true when it comes to the environments we create in our home. An organized home promotes a more calming environment, while a cluttered one can make you feel more chaotic.
This was the basis of a study by Lenny Vartanian of UNSW Australia, and Kristin Kernan and Brian Wansink of Cornell University, which studied the way your mind interacts with your environment to influence eating behavior. In the study, the researchers told participants they would be rating the taste of cookies, crackers and carrots. However, before the study was conducted, the women were asked to write about one of the following; a time when they felt particularly overwhelmed, an instance when they felt composed, or the last lecture they attended. Then the ladies were placed in two environments, one was an organized kitchen space and the other was a cluttered, unorganized kitchen.
The findings? The women who were prompted to write about a chaotic time and were exposed to the cluttered kitchen ate significantly more cookies than the other participants. The women who had to write about a chaotic time but were in the organized kitchen didn’t consume noticeably more than those who wrote about being in control.
What does this mean for you? Although the environment was not the sole reason why the women consumed more cookies, it did have an effect. While your mindset can buffer the effects of a chaotic environment, having an organized environment can help with the effects of feeling out of control. If you are feeling out of control, de-cluttering your environment could help in getting things back under control.
Staying with the food theme, clearing out the clutter in the kitchen can help you snack less by promoting self-control. Brian Wansik of Cornell University went on to study how cluttered kitchens provoked people to eat 44% more of their snack food than a kitchen that was organized and de-cluttered.
He recommends clearing off your counters of items like small appliances and cutting boards. “Where a more organized kitchen may prompt self-control, a disorganized one does the opposite.”
So we now know, if you are less cluttered you may snack less, but what about you as a person? Kathleen Vohs, PhD, of the University of Minnesota, found that working in a tidy room “encourages people to do socially responsible, normatively “good” things like eat healthfully and give to charity.” Vohs study consisted of three parts. In the first, participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire; half worked in an organized room, while the other half worked in an unorganized room. Then participants were asked to voluntarily contribute to a charity. Lastly they were offered a choice of an apple or candy bar on the way out. The researchers found that 82 percent of the participants in the organized room donated money, versus 47 percent in the unorganized room. Also, 67 percent of the neat-room participants chose the apple over the chocolate, while only 20 percent of the messy-room participants made the healthy choice.
These are just a few examples of studies that compare the difference between being in an organized environment versus an unorganized environment. I think we can all agree that it is nice to be in an organized, less chaotic space, but to understand why it makes us feel that way may encourage us to stay more organized in order to promote a better lifestyle in all aspects. In order to clear our minds, we must clear our space. Clutter is a visual reminder of the chaos we deal with on a daily basis, and if we can eliminate one pile, maybe our day will be that much better.