Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

The Hired Girl

Laura Amy Schlitz

Declutter your brain with a 60second Purge

Declutter your brain with a 60second Purge
Get oriented.
Get organized
Look 'em in the eye
Sleep already
Exercise. Now.
Get blogging
Get coding
Get smart(er)
Get lucky

Declutter flutter? We’re not here to tell you to get organized, because if you’re not already organized, odds are you’ve been told you need to declutter and get organized and it hasn’t made any difference.

So how about this: That mess in your room? It’s not just a biohazard. It’s actually clogging up your brain and making you a little bit dumber.

Why clutter makes you stupid

The word Fun on slot machine wheels or dials to illustrate entertainment and enjoyment of having a good time gambling on slots and other games of chance at a casino iQoncept/Shutterstock

Especially when you're "distracted."

Picture a casino. Flashing slot machines, glittering lights, relentless sound effects. And a big electric bill. The average casino on the Las Vegas “Strip” faces tens of millions of dollars in power costs per year. Now, ask yourself: Do casino operators pay for all that power just because they think this stuff is pretty?

No, they pay because all that clutter makes you stupid. You see, clutter competes for your brain’s attention, like any other distraction. The more clutter, the more distraction, the more likely you are to stuff your money into the casino operator’s pocket.

Researchers have finally confirmed what casinos have long known: Clutter reduces your brain’s ability to focus and process information. Princeton University scientists recently published a study using magnetic resonance brain scans to confirm that peak mental performance occurs in a de-cluttered environment.

How to de-clutter: The 60second Purge

Grab a box and a timer. Go to your room. Put the box in the center of your room. Set the timer to 60 seconds. Ready? Set? GO!

Give yourself the next 59 seconds to find 10 things you haven’t used (or looked at) in a year and dump them in the box.

Here's how a box works. Tigger11th/Shutterstock

This is how a box works.

That dog-eared guide to WoW gold strategies? Check. That pair of jeans with the hole in an…unfortunate place? Yep. A bent paper clip? Um, OK. Whatever ten items your eyes land on, don’t think about it: If they meet the criteria, just dump ‘em in the box!

When you’re done, ask your parents (or whomever is in charge) if you can stow the box someplace. Tell them it’s for a science experiment—that often works. Then walk away.

Tomorrow, rinse and repeat. Another 60second Purge. Add the harvest to your collection. The next day, another 60second Purge. More bounty! Do it for a week. Seven whole days. Now take a look at your pile of stuff and ask yourself: Do I really want to put it all back? If the answer is “NO,” just get rid of it. NOW.

Hurt a little?

If you’ve ever watched an episode of Hoarders, you know some people can’t get rid of anything. Those are extreme cases, of course. But most of us have a hard time letting go—even of things we really don’t need, really don’t want anymore, and probably won’t use again. A team from Yale University may have discovered why: When you give something away, the pain-signal processing area of your brain can react just as it would if you’d smashed your little toe.

So there it is: The same regions of your brain that shriek if you cut off your right arm raise a ruckus when you give away something you haven’t looked at in three years. But now that you know what's really going on, it won't hurt so much. We hope.

Now that your workspace is a zen sanctuary of concentration, here's what you must do to make the most of it.

Have you taken our 60second Purge challenge? Or are you content studying in the middle of a toxic waste dump? Let us know!

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