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Physical Clutter Crowds Out Other Thoughts, Steals Focus

You might have known it inherently: arriving at a messy desk on Monday morning, you don’t feel like charging into work. A scientific study, however, explains what clutter does to your brain: it competes for attention and crowds out the actual thoughts you want to move through.

Image via jeffedoe.

Erin Doland at the Unclutterer blog decodes a Princeton University Neuroscience Institute study, which used imaging techniques to study volunteers’ brains as they tried to move through tasks in cluttered and serene environments. Doland puts it best in explaining what clutter most resembles:

(It) competes for your attention in the same way a toddler might stand next to you annoyingly repeating, “candy, candy, candy, candy, I want candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy …” Even though you might be able to focus a little, you’re still aware that a screaming toddler is also vying for your attention. The annoyance also wears down your mental resources and you’re more likely to become frustrated.

Think about that the next time you’re wondering why you seem so unproductive in a mid-week lull: “Candy, candy, candy…”

Scientists find physical clutter negatively affects your ability to focus, process information [Unclutterer]


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