My friend and I are having a virtual coffee chat.
She says, “I’m struggling to focus when I’m working from home.”
Get rid of visual clutter. Here’s the proven strategy.
How to increase productivity when working from home?
First of all, she was right.
It is difficult to work from home.
And you see, my friend did all the right things. She created a dedicated working space. She made sure her loved ones won’t disturb. And she even decided to dress as if she was going to the office, including the make-up. So, everything was as it should be.
But there was one thing missing.
Or should I say, there was an excess of it?
The visual clutter.
The secret to getting rid of visual clutter
What’s visual clutter?
Visual clutter materializes in various shapes and forms. Whether it is a stack of unprocessed documents on your desk, dry laundry in the basket, toys on the floor, or too many beauty products around your sink.
- Clutter grabs your attention.
- Uses your brainpower.
- Creates tension.
Clutter is an excess. Visual clutter is an excess of material objects on display.
Lack of harmony. Lack of flow.
How visual clutter blocks your productivity?
Whether we want it or not our brain processes everything we see. Feed it with random, chaotic, and displaced items, and it will use a corresponding amount of its power to digest it.
And your focus is gone.
Not only our concentration power for a day diminishes. Our stress level goes up triggering feelings of worry and anxiety. It makes us feel exhausted even before we have managed to start our work!
The fewer visuals and information we consume, the more focus we save for the main tasks of the day. This rule applies to any form of clutter.
Yes, the quick glance at news headlines, Facebook, and Instagram skimming too.
But that’s a topic for another conversation. Let’s focus on getting rid of visual clutter now.
How can you master visual clutter detection
Take some time and do a little exploration around your house. Let your eyes wander all over the place and in all directions. Do you feel pulled in several different directions and unable to focus? Is your attention drawn to certain places that make you feel uncomfortable?
- How do you feel in your living room?
- Is it nice and relaxing?
- What about your kitchen?
- Do you have enough clear space to prepare your meals?
- Can you find what you need without hesitation?
- Does the bathroom feel like a retreat o more like a chaotic beauty product store?
- Are you able to get through the hallway without tripping on shoes and any other objects?
- How about your working space?
- Do you have to wade through tons of things to get there?
Does this quick assessment suggest that you’re surrounded by visual clutter? If yes, then that’s a clear sign that your space needs healing.
Here’s my proven strategy for getting rid of visual clutter.
Proven strategy for getting rid of visual clutter step by step
1. Make a realistic plan to remove visual clutter
You don’t have to declutter everything in one go. Such a big task is exhausting, so don’t set yourself up to fail. Instead, assess your time and capabilities. Then sketch out the plan. You can go to one room, one corner, or one shelf at a time. You can even put the timer on and do 5 or 15 minutes a day. If you’re a to-do list junkie, break down all the areas into small manageable chunks and attack them one at the time.
2. Get rid of things you don’t need
Decide if you want to keep things. Do that before you put any effort into the clearing, organizing, and finding the right place for them.
3. Go for the quick wins
Clearing the obvious and messy areas first will help you detect what lies deeper. You won’t lose focus, and gain the power to make sustainable changes. This will also give you enough time to adjust your plan for the more complicated items. Here are a few examples of quick wins.
- Store away a vacuum cleaner standing in the middle of the hallway.
- Take out the box full of recyclable paper that you were planning to get rid of last week.
- Put away the clothes hanging on the back of your sofa.
- Remove the half-unpacked suitcase from the middle of your bedroom.
- Review the pile of documents you have forgotten to file away.
4. Clear the floors
The more objects are on the floor the more cluttered and crowded the area will feel. So, to create a clean and airy space remove anything you can store away like shoes, bags, bins, you name it. Every small item that is breaking up the floor space should go. Also, keep in mind that a large rug instead of a few smaller ones will create a sense of flow and clean, open space.
5. Keep the walkways empty
You can forget about the visual aspect of it, and bring your safety to the forefront. Imagine walking with a hot cup of tea and tripping over the trainers. Pick up any small items and find them home. And if something is blocking the natural flow – remove it. Consider rearranging the furniture pieces too if they are in the way.
6. Unblock the staircase
Remove everything from the staircase for both visual and safety reasons. The stairs are there to serve one purpose only. And that is not to store your clutter.
7. Clear flat surfaces
Clear worktops will give you a sense of space, flow, and air, so store away as many items as you can. There is no magic number of things that will work for everyone. It’s very personal, for practical reasons too. The best method to find your balance is to experiment.
- Kitchen table, bar, isle
- Kitchen worktops and stove
- Dining table
- Coffee tables
- Dressers and console tops
- TV stand
8. Examine all tops
Check the less obvious places for hidden clutter. We tend to overlook the areas that are above our line of sight.
- Fridge top
- Kitchen and bathroom cabinets
- Any tall furniture pieces like a bookcase or a free-standing wardrobe
- Large audio speakers
- Stacked up appliances like the washing machine and tumble drier
- Kitchen fan
9. Have a closer look at your walls
You don’t have to repaint them or strip off the wallpaper. Check the basics. Are there too many hanging pictures, photographs, or posters on them? Do they blend well with the room? Take off the ones you don’t like. Fix any holes or damages that are drawing your attention. Any redundant decorations or hooks?
10. Clean windows and mirrors
Clean windows will let more light. They will also help to extend your internal space to the outside. Clean mirrors will reflect the light better.
- Refresh and uniform the curtains.
- Is there anything hanging off the curtain racks?
- Clear the window sills, which often become our backup storage space!
11. Look for anything that doesn’t belong
Any outdated, forgotten, duplicated, and redundant stuff.
- Stickers, postcards, post-it notes on the walls, and mirrors
- Any items hanging on or off the doors and door handles
- Outdated and unnecessary items on the fridge door
- Magnetic, cork, and chalkboards are magnets for stuff.
- Sides of the cupboards and shelf units
12. Check cloth racks and hangers
Can some of the jackets and coats stay in the wardrobe? Having fewer clothes pilled up on the hangers will make space look lighter and airy. Use a fabric shaver to refresh your clothes.
13. Organize open cabinets and shelves
You don’t have to fill up every space with the stuff. Isn’t that freeing? Decide what items you want to look at and remove the rest. Clear especially, those items that stand in two or more rows.
14. Downsize media, including books
Are you sure you need all CD’s, DVDs, Blue-Rays and books? Do you use them or keep to make a show-off?
15. Strip down collections
Collections often collect dust. Are you sure you don’t keep them because you liked them in the past or feel that you invested too much? These are porcelain figures, crystal vases, framed photographs, rocks, candles, and other memorabilia.
16. Clear sittings areas
- Remove clothes hanging on the back of the chairs.
- Put away newspapers and magazines from under the sofa cushions.
- Find remotes and toys tucked in the sofa modules.
17. Hide cables
Is there anything you can do about all the cords, cables, wires, and plugs? Can you get rid of some of them? Try to hide them from a direct view. Keep safety in mind at all times.
18. Reduce patterns
Check if striped curtains, checked carpets, flowers on cushions, and bed linen match. Do the framed pictures scattered on the walls don’t clash with candle holders in every corner? If such items make your eyes and brain jump from one place to the other, they don’t help you relax.
19. Harmonise colors
Colors, like patterns, play a huge role when it comes to visual clutter. Unified and harmonized spaces introduce a sense of calmness, safety, and relaxation. Change clashing colors, and create a sense of flow.
20. Check balcony, patio, and garden
Don’t forget to inspect your outdoor spaces, especially the ones you see through the windows.
21. Get rid of visual clutter from all other areas
Clear basement, attic, shed, and storage.
- Get rid of the things you don’t need.
- Find storage for tools and any other items.
- Clear floors.
- Clear all tables, worktops, trays, crates, boxes, and containers.
- Keep fences, railings, and walls free of any items that do not belong there.
- Matching colors and patterns are easier on the eyes.
Enjoy the clutter and stress-free home!
Home sweet home, without visual clutter!
Now, after all this effort you put in to get rid of the visual clutter, it’s time to celebrate!
Sit back, relax, and enjoy your flowing space.
Do you feel any difference? Is it calmer without the visual stimulation attacking you from every corner?
Was it worth it? I bet it was.
And if you haven’t started already – you should give it a try!
How do you deal with visual clutter? Does it bother you at all? Share your tips in the comment below!