In the hustle and bustle of our modern lives, the chaos that surrounds us can take a toll on our mental well-being.
Research consistently shows that an organized environment can alleviate stress and anxiety. A study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that people with cluttered homes tend to have higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, compared to those with organized living spaces.
While the benefits of organization are evident, the quest for balance and tranquility often seems elusive. Spending excessive time and energy on cleaning and organizing can ironically become a stressor in itself, so it’s crucial to strike a balance. The goal is to integrate organization seamlessly into our lives, making it a sustainable and potentially enjoyable practice rather than a source of additional pressure.
Tips for Busy Schedules and Messy Environments:
1. Micro-organization- Break down larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps. Tackling one small area at a time can make the process less overwhelming, especially for those with hectic schedules.
2. One-Item Rule- As we move throughout our days we walk through various spaces, if we make a point to grab one item and put it away as we pass, it only adds a few seconds to what we are doing. Over time that pile of laundry can become half as large, even if we didn’t directly focus on it.
3. Time Blocking- Dedicate specific time blocks in your schedule for organization. Treat it as an essential appointment to prioritize the well-being of your space and, consequently, your mental health.
4. Know Yourself- One trick I really like to utilize when I am feeling low on motivation is to invite someone over. It could be for a takeout dinner, or a friend coming to watch a movie. Instead of taking 2-3 hours that night scrolling on my phone or watching TV, I take a few minutes to clean up before the person comes over for the remaining 1-2 hours. I might not always be motivated to clean up for myself, but I do know I will clean up if company is coming. Finding tricks to motivate yourself, even if unconventional, might be your best bets for success.
5. Delegate Responsibilities- If your household is bustling with activity, consider delegating tasks to family members or housemates. A shared effort not only eases the workload but also fosters a sense of communal responsibility.
6. Utilize Outside Recommendations- Following someone with an organization account on social media, or following a business like The Container Store, can give you regular quick tips and ideas for organization.
7. Hire a Cleaning Service: Consider spending less on things like take-out, and instead apply that money for professionals to come clean and organize, saving yourself some time and stress.
Affording Help: Balancing Budget and Cleanliness
Maintaining a clean and organized space need not break the bank. Here are some creative strategies to make organization accessible.
1. Hire Local Youth- Consider hiring teenagers or college students from your neighborhood
for cleaning tasks. They often charge reasonable rates, and you support local youth
while achieving your organizational goals.
2. Task Based Services- Opt for task-based services rather than full-house cleaning. This can
be more affordable and allows you to focus on specific areas that need attention.
3. Annual vs Regular- Sometimes it is easier to budget time and money for annual or bi-
annual (or more) organizational days. Hiring help a few times a year vs a few times a
month can help get you where you need to be, so you can just maintain what you’ve
already done after that.
When we are surrounded by chaos, our
minds are forced to constantly process the visual information, leading to mental fatigue. On the contrary, an organized space provides a sense of control and predictability, reducing the cognitive load on our brains and promoting a calmer mental state. With the right tools you can find a balance between clean and organized stress relief, without becoming overwhelmed by
the tasks themselves.
-Jesika Pearce, OM
Recommended Reading: Top Five Books on Organization and Mental Well-being
1. “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo
2. “Atomic Habits” by James Clear
3. “The Organized Mind” by Daniel J. Levitin
4. “Getting Things Done” by David Allen
5. “Goodbye, Things” by Fumio Sasaki