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Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Removing Unpleasant Out-of-Sight Clutter

Posted January 21, 2023 by Mike Lewis under Tips

Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Removing Unpleasant Out-of-Sight Clutter


We’ve all been there – that messy closet, cluttered basement, or overflowing attic space filled with things we don’t use or even remember owning. Although it’s easy to ignore out-of-sight clutter, it can have a surprising impact on mental health and quality of life. In this article, I’ll explore the psychology behind out-of-sight clutter, the benefits of tackling it, and actionable tips for removing unpleasant clutter from neglected spaces.

The Psychology of Out-of-Sight Clutter

Even when tucked away out of view, clutter has a psychological impact. Here’s why:

It’s Mentally Taxing

Having excess stuff causes cognitive overload. The clutter competes for our attention and fills our minds with unwanted visual noise. This mental burden can impair focus and decision making. I often feel overwhelmed when surrounded by disorganization. Tidying neglected spaces provides mental clarity.

It Represents Procrastination

Out-of-sight clutter is often a sign of procrastination. We shove things out of sight to avoid making decisions about them. But residual clutter gnaws at our consciousness and increases feelings of overwhelm. Confronting it head on relieves procrastination-induced stress.

It Drains Energy

Visual and mental clutter are energetically draining. A clean space feels lighter and more spacious whereas clutter feels stagnant. Clearing out what no longer serves us makes room for new energy. I feel more motivated and creative in decluttered surroundings.

It Fuels Guilt

Hidden messes fill us with shame and guilt. Deep down, we know the clutter needs to be dealt with, which causes underlying unease. Tackling it finally removes the emotional weight of what’s been left undone. I feel proud and lighter after organizing neglected zones.

Benefits of Tackling Out-of-Sight Clutter

Conquering concealed clutter improves mental, emotional, and even physical wellbeing in various ways. Here are some of the top benefits:

Reduces Stress and Anxiety

De-cluttering out of sight spaces provides a huge mental relief. No longer having constant background worries about the state of hidden messes lifts a burden and eases stress. My shoulders unclench and my mind unclenches too when I organize messy areas.

Increases Productivity

It’s remarkable how much mental bandwidth clutter consumes even when we don’t see it. Eliminating clutter clears away distractions and frees up mental capacity. I’m able to focus much better on important tasks after cleaning cluttered areas.

Improves Mood

There’s a sense of accomplishment that comes from de-cluttering neglected zones. Seeing order emerge has an uplifting effect on mood. I feel lighter, satisfied, and more optimistic at the end of a big organizing session.

Makes Room for What You Love

Hidden clutter takes up precious space that could be used to store items that bring joy or serve your goals. You can finally make room for valued belongings when you remove what no longer serves you.

Tips for Tackling Out-of-Sight Clutter

If you’re feeling inspired to declutter those out-of-sight spaces, use these tips to make the process manageable:

Schedule Time

Carve out chunks of time specifically for de-cluttering. Trying to do it in 10 minute increments when you’re rushed leads to poor decisions. I aim for at least an hour so I can make steady progress.

Start Small

Pick one contained area like a single drawer or shelf rather than an entire room. Quick small wins give momentum without being overwhelming. I start with whatever area is most stressing me out.

Assess Each Item

Handle each item individually and consider: Do I need this? Do I love this? Does this belong here? Anything that doesn’t meet those criteria can likely go. This forces thoughtful decisions.

Categorize Actions

As you go, make piles or boxes that require different next actions: donate, sell, relocate to proper home, trash, etc. This keeps you methodical versus making knee-jerk choices. I use color coded boxes for each category.

Take Breaks

Step away periodically to stretch, drink water, or clear your head. Decision fatigue sets in, so short breaks help you maintain stamina and objectivity. I take a 10 minute break for every 90 minutes of decluttering.

Enlist Help

For attics, basements, garages, or other large cluttered areas, get help. Friends or family may lend a hand, or you can hire professional organizers. Having support makes big projects feel friendlier. My sister helped me clear out my basement and it was so much better tackling it together!

Maintain Momentum

To avoid backsliding, continue decluttering in small ways. Regularly purge expired items from the pantry, clear out old documents, donate unused clothes, etc. Think of it as clutter maintenance rather than a one-time endeavor. I like to spend 10 minutes tackling clutter “hot spots” daily.

With some dedicated time and consistent effort, you can clear the mental fog caused by out-of-sight clutter. Removing unpleasant clutter from neglected zones improves focus, lifts mood, and declutters life in general. Give it a try – you may be surprised how much lighter you feel!

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