The Negative and Positive Impacts of Untidiness on Your Brain

Why you should keep a tidy space, but a little mess isn't all bad.

Charlotte Dawson
3 min readMar 15, 2023
Photo by Vladislav Muslakov on Unsplash

Don’t worry, I am not about to tell you to minimise everything you own, clean every corner of your house and paint everything white…

Just a little about how being untidy can impact your mental health in different ways.

Because here on this page, we are all for positively impacting our lives but also accepting the negatives too.

But if keeping a tidy space can make us feel better, let's do it!

🧠 Untidiness and The Brain

Being untidy can have varying effects on the brain, surprisingly both positive and negative!

Having a messy space can create a messy life, and vice versa.

👎 On The Negative Side

A cluttered and disorganised environment can lead to a range of mental health problems, and you may not even realise it!

1. Increased stress and anxiety: A cluttered environment can be overwhelming to the brain, leading to increased stress and anxiety. The brain has to process and interpret all the visual stimuli in the environment, which can be exhausting and distracting!

2. Decreased focus and productivity: When the environment is untidy, the brain has to work harder to filter out distractions and stay focused on the task at hand. This can lead to decreased productivity and difficulty completing tasks efficiently. Keep a tidy space before you start work to avoid this distraction!

3. Physical health issues: Untidiness can lead to physical health issues such as allergies, asthma, and other respiratory problems. Dust, mould, and other allergens can accumulate in cluttered spaces, which can have negative effects on the brain and body. Or you know, you could fall over something and hurt yourself…

👍 On The Positive Side

Some studies have shown that a moderate level of messiness can enhance creativity and encourage a more relaxed, free-flowing mindset. Brilliant!

1. Increased creativity: A cluttered environment can inspire creativity and imagination. The brain is stimulated by visual stimuli and can make connections and associations that it might not have made in a more organized space.

2. Encourages a more relaxed mindset: An untidy environment can be more conducive to relaxation and free-flowing thought. When the brain is not under the pressure of keeping a space tidy, it can be more open to new ideas and experiences. However, there is definitely a balance to this, as with everything.

It’s important to find a balance between keeping a tidy space and allowing for a certain level of messiness that can enhance creativity and relaxation. You will find your own personal level of moderate clutter that isn't necessarily untidy, but just a little messier than having nothing.

🧹 Tips For Tidying

Want to create a better space in order to get more things done?

Here are some top tips for creating an inspiring, tidy, but maybe still a little cluttered space to spark just the right amount of creativity, but in a clean, organised way.

  1. Keep the floor clean.
  2. Remove dirty dishes/mugs.
  3. Only have what you need on your desk.
  4. Clean surfaces, and reduce dust build-up.
  5. Make the bed every day.
  6. Put away clothes.
  7. Organise your shelves to look aesthetic.
  8. Keep everything in its designated space.
  9. Hoover often, especially if you have pets!
  10. Decorate the walls with clutter (ART) instead!
  11. Keep a cohesive colour scheme, or go all out. Pick one.

It is quite easy to stay on top of cleanliness once you have found your routine.

Understandably, life can get in the way, causing life to also get a little messy in your physical world.

Don’t worry. Take your time to feel better and slowly tidy up one room at a time, or one category at a time, for example, begin with putting away clothes and then focus on seeing the floor space and go from there.

Do you have any tips for keeping your space *just right* for creativity, productivity and also peace of mind?

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Charlotte Dawson

✨ Sharing health, wellness and lifestyle content ✨ I also freelance write! Get in touch or send me an email at writtenbycharlotte@gmail.com