Does a tidy house really equal a tidy mind?

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I have read this quote on a number of occasions and wonder if it rings true for the majority of people.  Personally my tolerance for clutter/mess is rather low. I find it chaotic and cannot concentrate on other tasks let alone relax.  It has been said that I am bordering on OCD – in my opinion this is a slight exaggeration!  When my children drop crumbs on the living room carpet, I cannot sit down to watch a film or relax unless I hoover.  I guess it is for this reason that “mummy’s time” is after their bedtime when the living room carpet is free from toys, arts and crafts and other odds and ends. I learnt the painful way that it is pointless trying to tidy when your children are playing  – in fact no different to shovelling snow when it is snowing!

I truly believe it is more challenging to achieve in mess and almost impossible to think clearly. My issue is my inability to close my eyes when things are not as they should be. Something in me is begging to “fix it”. My husband watches me and laughs when I sweep up at midnight.  Might I add whilst he is chilling on the sofa or head engrossed in his work laptop!

If one works from home it must be quite a struggle creating a boundary for work and play. Having an office would help as you can shut yourselves in without dealing with distractions from family members.  I run my small make up business from home and deal with the administration late at night. Everything is where it should be and I can work in peace – bliss!

The easiest ways to eliminate clutter:
1. Tidy and clean as you go along (little and often)
2. Have a “home” for absolutely everything – I mean everything
3. Throw away items that no longer serve their purpose/look worse for wear
4. Resist the urge to hang onto an item “just in case”

What are your thoughts on tidiness in relation to productivity?
How do you like to work, whether in your home or office?

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28 thoughts on “Does a tidy house really equal a tidy mind?”

  1. Untidiness has at most a minimal effect on my productivity: ambient noise, temperature extremes (it being too hot or too cold), and insomnia are the real ‘rocks in the road’ for me.

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  2. Hi Phoenicia; well i think this is one of those areas where being blind gives me an advantage. I can’t see all those little bits of clutter. I’m used to kicking shoes and toys out of my way as I go. dirt only become a problem for me when I can smell it. 😉 consequently i have a higher appreciation for clean smelling sheets and towels. you mentioned having a place for everything. gretchen rubin talks about using big clear jars for all those little bitty toy pieces that go to bigger toys. but my mom has the same problem you do. she can’t enjoy herself if the dishes aren’t done and the floor isn’t vacuumed. I can get the floor but the dishes are in a whole other room. 🙂 thanks for sharing, max

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  3. I have had experience with this first hand. My ex-girlfriend has some issues with depression, and clutter seemed to intensify her depression.
    This meant a big change for me, I am on the other hand, believe the effort you put into something takes away from something else. I am literally like the scientist who leaves things laying around.
    I often use the quote from Einstein, When someone asked him about his messy desk he responded,
    “If a cluttered desk is a sing of a cluttered mind, of what, then is an empty desk a sign”

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  4. I am definitely on the same page Phoenicia! Sitting at my desk in my home office now there is not a single piece of paper around – I don’t even keep an in/out tray. I can’t think if there is clutter around me and as I spend the majority of my time writing my frame of mind is pretty important. I also agree with you about having a “home” for everything, it just makes it that much easier to keep things tidy.

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  5. Hi Phoenicia,
    I like to start a new work project with my desk all cleaned up, my countertops organized and as bare as possible, and a fresh cappucino. Once I get started, there are books open, piles of ideas printed out, lots of handwritten lists, and what looks like a lot of mess. But I need these things around me to make sure I look at all the possible sources for my writing! After I finish a project and publish it or mail it, I clean everything up and have a real feeling of accomplishment!

    So I guess I’m half tidy and half messy!

    Dr Rin

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  6. Totally with you on a tidy space making it easier for me to concentrate. That said, I have to admit that I’m the one with projects scattered around the house. The dining room table is currently covered in seed-pots. Planting my flowers and herbs now makes me feel sure spring is on the way. My end table in the living room contains my Bible study books. A corner in my office is devoted to the recipe project (input the ones I want into my program and get rid of the books). Get the idea? But none of them are messy. I cannot think straight in a messy atmosphere. It’s critical that my office is organized. A rolling file cart that fits under my work table helps with that. Current projects on top of the table and the rest organized below.

    Yet another good post from you, Sabrina! Happy to share it around!

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  7. While I personally don’t like living or working amidst any sort of mess, I don’t actually believe there is a correlation between tidyness and productivity. I think that is particulary ture of creative people, many of whom have no problem produding within an ultra-cluttered office or studio.

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  8. Phoenicia, I agree with you on being able to better work when your surroundings are tidy, with exceptions.
    I’m one of those people who have to start with a clean desk and then throughout the day I make the most horrific mess you ever saw. Papers and folders all over the place but the next morning – we start neat and tidy all over again. Makes extra work I know but since I usually have 3 or 4 projects on the go at the same time, well, as they say – it is what it is.

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  9. We definitely have a bit of clutter in my house. I’m always trying to clean up after it, but it isn’t easy. It makes it difficult that I have three animals running around in a small space who don’t understand the concept of creating a mess (I had a dog, and then a stray cat had kittens in my yard, and we couldn’t find them a home so we kept them.) Also, my husband creates a lot of clutter and it is difficult to get him to part with things he doesn’t need. Needless to say, I wish my home was less cluttered, but it doesn’t completely unnerve me. I hope someday to have a bigger home so I can give my husband his own room to create clutter and then the rest of the house will be a bit calmer.

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  10. I love this post, Phoenicia. I, too, love things to be tidy. I learned that from my father, and his example has stuck with me. Unfortunately, my husband does not live by the tidiness rule. We have a constant battle in our home of my trying to enforce/encourage him to put things away, throw unneeded things away, and go by ‘more is less necessary/ less is more attractive’ but I don’t think I can ever change him.

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  11. The clutter is also distracting to me. I usually clear it up at the end of the night too. My office is clutter free and I make sure the family room is too since I can see it from my office. Great tips. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. I can work amid a small amount of mess. When I am in the middle of a writing project or research my desk can get quite cluttered with piles and bits of paper. But there reaches a point where I have to stop whatever I’m doing to clean, organize and get rid of things or I can no longer think.

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  13. Clutter is to our environment as cholesterol is to our body. Cholesterol slows our blood flow and clutter on our desk, in our bedroom, in our kitchen, anywhere in our environment, prevents us from receiving. We’re going to hold off ideas, and that new client wanting us. Yes indeed Phoenicia – you are spot on with Tidy House Equals Tidy Mind. I agree with this for sure.

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