Monday, July 11, 2016

Decluttering: Cutting Back on Visual Clutter

My husband and sorta myself have been watching a show about the human brain.  It's amazing how we have the ability to hyper-focus on things and as a result tune things out. 

I want you to take a moment and look around the room you are sitting in.  Now look at the walls.  I'm betting you are noticing things right now that you didn't notice before.  I notice a scratch at the bottom of one wall, covered over nail marks, an obvious bit of plaster work, and I'm sure that you've got similar things on your walls.  You might be thinking "geez, you're right. why didn't I notice that mark before?"  It's because our brains can hyper-focus and if our visual spaces are cluttered with stuff, we miss things.

You've probably got furniture in your room, and on said furniture is stuff.  Maybe it's a nice table cloth, or pillows, or books.  I have that stuff too.  My eyes naturally focus on that stuff and not notice other things.

This isn't a bad thing.  You want to have something to display when people come to visit you.  But you have to decide what that is.  Instead of putting up every picture on the wall that you own or displaying every knick nack, only display the ones you want people to notice.  Because let's face it, if you have a lot of eye candy around, chances are anyone visiting your house will not notice the one focal point in the room that you actually want them to notice.

For me, my biggest visual clutter happens in my kitchen.  So I'm trying to eliminate that.  I took all the stuff off the fridge except for one dry erase board which I use to keep a shopping list.  I want to focus on that because even though the list has been on my fridge for ages I often forget to check it before I go to the store.  Then my husband gets a phone call mid-way through shopping asking if he can read the list to me.  It had been dwarfed by the shear number of stuff on the fridge: soup labels for the kid's school, the school schedule, drawings from the kids, and so forth. 

To combat this, I tucked the extras away so I'm not staring at stuff constantly.  I put the school schedule on the back of a cabinet.  If I need to I can always go look at it, but now I don't have to have my brain ignore it.  I took the children's drawings and created a collage and put it in a poster frame.  It's now a focal point but not one that leads to so much distraction.  The soup labels went into a drawer. 

This is also important to do when cleaning.  If you leave your counter tops, your end tables, your coffee tables, and your floors cluttered with things, you begin to not notice when something is out of place.  If you don't notice that your child has stuck a drawing on top of a stack of mail, it could sit there for a while.  But if you have a clear countertop with essentially nothing on it, the drawing becomes obvious.  So does the tiny lego, the pen, and the dish.  I don't know about you but I find these extremely helpful when trying to tidy up.

Now I'm trying to reduce the amount of visual clutter I have.  This isn't easy.  I would love to have everything behind a door or cabinet so I don't have to see it if I don't want to, but alas I have things like book shelves which are open.  But I'm making a small effort to reduce my stuff so that I can have less out there that I must see.  Yet another great motivator in the war on stuff.

So have you heard about visual clutter before?  What ways have you set about reducing it?

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I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!