How clutter ruins your life and why minimalism can improve it

The golden rays of the sun sneak in through your curtains, like a paintbrush on canvas, it paints the black sky of the night into a bright blue sky with some creamy purple hues. Birds are chirping, the brisk wind blows, at this time, you begin to open your eyes slowly. BOOM! Clutter, clutter, clutter everywhere! Posters on the wall, a mess on the desk, art materials all over the place, wires all over the floor. You reach for your phone and get introduced to more clutter! A flood of notifications on your screen followed by an obtrusive jumble of apps welcoming you to the home screen. Your day hasn’t started yet, and already you feel mentally overwhelmed. We face this problem every day.

A different scenario

Now imagine the same golden sun rays sneaking through your curtains, birds chirping the wind blowing, you open your eyes. And you see nothing on your walls. And if you have white walls, just a blank space. In a room that is practically close to empty, clean and spacious with only things that matter to you there. And a phone that has lock screen notifications turned off until you want to read them later in the morning, and a nice clean organized home screen.

What clutter does to your brain

If you have a cluttered room or art studio, it may affect you in ways you don’t even realize.
A 2010 study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, people with cluttered homes full of unfinished projects, were more depressed, fatigued, and had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who described their homes as “restful” and “restorative. If your teacher or mother told you to straighten your desk or tidy your room, they did it with good intentions that can be backed up by science.

According to Dr. Sherrie  Bourg Carter, author of High Octane Women, clutter robs you of mental energy, leaving you feeling anxious, tired, and overwhelmed.
Similar to multitasking, physical clutter overloads your senses, makes you feel stressed, and impairs your ability to think creatively (which is the opposite of what you want if you’re an artist)
Using MRIs and other diagnostic tools, research shows that clutter affects your brain’s ability to concentrate and process information.

Benefits of having a minimalist room.

I’ve been trying the whole having a minimalistic room for six months now. My walls are white, and my floors are wooden grey. Except for a mirror and clock, I have nothing hanged up on my walls at all, unless I’m creating a new piece and want another drawing to be my primary inspiration for it, Then I’ll hang it up and then take it down when finished. You’ll find my desk, chair, TV, laptop, sofa bed, and wardrobe. Nothing more; I hide everything else away from sight. Doing this helps me preserve brain power, and use it for important tasks at hand.

Let’s look at the benefits in your room

There’s less pressure to tidy and clean your room/studio

Less stuff leads to having less stuff to clean which also leads to having less dust, dirt, and allergies. One benefit to having less in your room is fewer things to catch dust, fewer things to have to take out from under your bed to vacuum. It’s all a pleasant experience especially if you’re not a fan of constantly tidying up all the time.

Bedrooms without clutter can be more peaceful

You lose that claustrophobic feeling, and you can breathe again, it feels more spacious, airy and bright. You’re creating a room to fill up your life with meaning, instead of stuff. Having a Minimalistic room has a particular psychological effect on many people including myself, that help you think better. Focusing is just so much easier when your line of vision is less disrupted by the mess.

Going for a minimal room can sometimes save money

Choosing to own only the essentials often aids in financial freedom. Instead of owning a bunch of black t-shirts in your wardrobe it, you just own one high-quality black t-shirt. Or multiple black t-shirts you can wear every day.

“More is not better; better is better.”

Improved decision making

There’s a reason why CEO’s and important decision makers wear the same outfits every day. Every day we make many decisions when you make them you use up mental energy. If you make too many decisions in too short a time frame, you significantly reduce your decision-making ability leading to decision fatigue causing things like

  •  Trying to avoid making decisijons altogether
  • Losing self-control over things you’d normally refrain from, like drinking alcohol and eating whatever’s in front of you

Not filling your wardrobe with hundreds of different items and only wearing essentials you like, buying multiple quantities of them, and wearing them every day saves you from using up mental energy when it comes to deciding what to wear. I mostly have black pieces of clothing, as I like black clothing. You can pull it off with anything and it matches anything, no having to think about what goes well and what doesn’t with it.

Lost something? You’ll be able to get to what you need quickly

I find this my favorite part. When there’s less clutter hiding what you’re looking for, it’s much easier to find it. Particularly clothes, art materials, chargers and so on are easy to locate – no more panic.

It’s not all about having a minimalist room

Centering your lifestyle around minimalism gives you benefits such as –

  • Clarity of mind.
  • More freedom – Not letting your possessions tie you down.
  • Better mental health.
  • Less focus on material possessions.
  • Creating room for what’s important.

The most successful people in the world opt for this lifestyle, maybe you’ve noticed, Steve jobs is a massive example of this. Steve Jobs famously wore the same black turtleneck, blue jeans and New Balance sneakers every day. In an interview, former Apple CEO John Sculley recalled a visit he made to Jobs’ house.

“I remember going into Steve’s house and he had almost no furniture in it. He just had a picture of Einstein, whom he admired greatly, and he had a Tiffany lamp and a chair and a bed. He just didn’t believe in having lots of things around but he was incredibly careful in what he selected.”

Another example is Mark Zuckerberg. A billionaire, CEO of Facebook, who chooses to wear the same casual clothing as opposed to expensive suits. He doesn’t want to waste time buying clothing but instead spends time on helping his community grow.

“I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community.”

Paulo Coelho. Paulo always wears a black t-shirt and jeans because he says it saves so much time for him. That way he has fewer clothes to take care of and he always knows what to wear. If you study successful, people you’ll see they all follow the same pattern.


Minimalism isn’t all about having barely anything in your room. It’s a way of life, a state of mind. Focusing on what’s more important and completely erasing or reducing what isn’t. Now I’m not saying to throw out everything in your room, but even sorting through your stuff and throwing out some bin bags or donating items you don’t need anymore to charity is a great way to get the ball rolling in the right direction. Sort out your art studio or your bedroom, then your life will follow.  Minimalism has a lot of benefits that many people, particularly successful people reap. It has had quite an effect on my life positively.

I would highly encourage you to design a simple life and give it a try.

Victor Ajayi

Victor Ajayi

Self-taught Artist & photographer who happens to travel a lot.

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