Clean Living, Clean Mind
The state of your environment has a profound impact on your wellbeing, affecting your state of mind, and your physical, mental, and emotional health. According to Erin Doland of Princeton’s Neuroscience Institute, when your environment is disorganized or cluttered, it limits the brain’s ability to focus and process information (affecting decision making, attention, and memory retrieval). Overall, a messy environment triggers a stress response in the brain, impacting your ability to process information as effectively as you could in an uncluttered, organized, and serene environment.
As a professional organizer and founder of The Clean Slate Living Company, I was delighted to be featured with Michelle Anne of The Masters Course to talk about the neuroscience behind how your environment affects your attitude, performance, and overall success in life. When your space is cluttered and chaotic, your clarity, self-esteem, and performance weaken. Science shows that organizing and de-cluttering your home and office increases your performance and self-esteem, promotes positivity, and decreases stress. At The Clean Slate Living Company, we help you organize your life, so you can thrive. The Masters Course™ offers Transformational Neuro-based training and Neuro-coaching. Neuro-based training changes the unconscious wiring in the brain to change your relationship with stress, remove unconscious obstacles, and get you on top of your game. Together, we offer tools that can have a powerful impact on your happiness and success.
Michelle and I teamed up for a little Q&A to further the conversation about the importance of having an organized office and home to help you thrive, triumph over daily challenges, and cultivate ease in your life.
Q: Clutter can be overwhelming. How and where should I start?
Adrian: I recommend starting small when you are feeling overwhelmed by clutter. Begin with one drawer, one corner of the room, or one shelf at a time. A small area can take 15 minutes or less to organize, but the feeling of accomplishment will last much longer and motivate you to keep going with other small areas.
Michelle: Science shows the feeling you feel when you accomplishing one task not only reduces stress, but it also stimulates the reward areas in the brain. The feeling you get is the neurochemistry in the brain triggering a dopamine release. This dopamine release is related to enjoyment and motivation. Overall, when you get one drawer, shelf or cabinet organized, it literally changes the chemistry in the brain. Learning how to stimulate the reward center of the brain (getting a dopamine release) is an amazing tool to reduce stress and increase your positivity!
Q: I want to be more organized, but that’s just now how my brain works. What are the basics of organization?
Adrian: Cull, Sort, and Match. First, get rid of anything you don’t need, use, or want anymore. Second, sort through what you have left, putting like things together: things that have the same function, things you use in the same area of your home, or matching colors/seasons for your closet. This trio of basics is a great place to start when building habits of organization into your daily routine. Remember, start small. Use Cull, Sort, & Match on one shelf in your closet, or one drawer in your kitchen, and see where it takes you.
Michelle: For better or for worse, our habits shape us. If we are in the habit of living in clutter, we are actually inviting stress and anxiety into our daily lives. Sustainable change is really about rewiring the brain. Neuroplasticity shows the amazing ability of the brain to re-wire itself over time. Understanding the brain is integral to make the type of lasting change we desire. Long-lasting change starts with connecting to the “sensing” centers of our brain. This means embodying, or feeling, a sense of how the change makes us feel, and actually sensing this in the body. We are really talking about a sense of sincerity for making permanent behavior change.
Q: I am a creative. Doesn’t “organized chaos” provide inspiration for my creativity?
Adrian: Focus is a key component of creativity! As an experienced actor, with over 100 productions under my belt, I can say that I do my best work when I can focus on the task at hand, without the distractions of clutter and mess. Clearing my space helps me clear my mind, making room for new ideas, thoughts, and innovations. The same follows for my professional organization work: once I clear a client’s space, and sort through items they want to keep, I am able to visualize how to best utilize their space and make it work for them. It isn’t until the space is cleared and sorted, that I can truly find the perfect solution to give my client their desired outcome, whether that be feeling more at home, being more productive, or cultivating calm in their space.
Michelle: According to Dr. Shelley Carson, a Harvard Lecturer in Psychology and author of “Your Creative Brain”, “Our censoring system keeps us focused on our current goals and on information that prior learning has taught us is “appropriate. Learning to loosen up this mental filtering system to allow more novel (creative) ideas and stimuli into conscious awareness is one of the biggest challenges.” Simply put, the brain is less inclined to be drawn into default thinking patterns when in a clean uncluttered environment. The brains censoring system when surrounded by organized chaos prevents our consciousness to allow new insights.
Q: I get organized a couple times a year, but it never lasts. How do I make it stick?
Adrian: The most important thing about getting organized is staying that way! When working with my clients, I develop a personalized system of organization that works for their life and daily schedule. The 60-Second rule is one of my favorites when maintaining a system: If you can do it 60 seconds or less, do it NOW.
Michelle: Studies on The Masters Course™ program show lasting transformation in; reduction of stress, positivity, trust, motivation, and collaboration and profits. This works! Changing the brain changes the outcome. When we understand how the brain functions, we communicate more effectively, are more collaborative, create a sense of possibility, eliminate conflict before it begins and so much more. This is leading-edge science, taught at every major university and being implemented in highly respected medical institutions as well as Fortune 500 companies across the world.
Q: Why does organizing and de-cluttering help lower my stress?
Adrian: For me, being organized is a way to honor my time and take pride in my home. Coming home to a clutter-free, peaceful space puts my mind at ease, and provides a space to relax, restore, and enjoy time with my family. My home is my sanctuary.
Michelle: Clutter is a physical representation of stress or a to-do list. Studies show individuals surrounded by physical clutter in a disorganized environment are less productive and more distracted than otherwise. It comes down to what do you want in your life? What is working, what isn’t working. Do an inventory. Does how you live and work increase your vitality, positivity, excitement for life?
If not, I encourage you to consider trying something different.
Start your day, by waking up and visualizing your day, imagine, feel how you’d like to show up how you’d like to feel. Bring a sense of sincerity to yourself for who you are, and what you contribute. Do a few check-ins throughout your day. Are you still feeling the sincerity? Can you bring it back? Remember, how you feel, affects others.