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We’ve all felt it — the closing-in feeling you feel when your kitchen counters are covered, your hallway is clogged, and you can’t find anything. For perhaps the millionth time you tell yourself it’s time to get organized. You might even feel anxious and overwhelmed all the time. If so, chances are the clutter and chaos in your home are impacting your mental health. But what can you do about it?
The impact of disorganization
A cluttered or disorganized home or workspace impacts your physical health. A cluttered home produces fire hazards, dust, and mold. Some studies have even shown an association between how much clutter you have and excess weight. Clutter affects your food choices and makes you more likely to choose unhealthy foods over healthier options. Disorganization and clutter have even been known to negatively impact your personal relationships.
And you don’t have to look far to see the impact clutter has on your mental health. Your disorganization, unfinished projects, and piles of “to dos” may be contributing to your stress and depression. As you work hard to clear away the piles and never-ending projects, your brain will rest easy and make it easier for you to feel relaxed and happy.
What prevents you from getting organized?
Even if you know your disorganized home is stressing you out, it doesn’t make it easy to fix. In fact, several factors probably contribute to your disorganization. Taking stock of your situation will help you pinpoint these factors and allow you to correct them. Common deterrents to organization include:
- You’ve never really been organized before. Not knowing how good organization feels makes it hard to want that feeling in your life.
- You have too much stuff.
- Organizing takes time. Add a career, family life, and other obligations and organization falls to the bottom of your to-do list.
Benefits of organizing
Organizing your life isn’t easy. Even knowing your disorganization is causing you pain probably isn’t enough to motivate you. But knowing some of the benefits of organizing might just do the trick. What are some of the benefits?
Organization helps you do the following things:
- Improve sleep
- Reduce stress
- Improve your relationships
- Focus on other aspects of your life and free up time and energy to improve your life in other areas
- Reduce depression and anxiety
- Make better food choices and stick to a workout regime, which will help you lose weight
- Make you more productive.
Tips to help you get organized
You’re ready and excited to declutter and get organized. Now you just need to decide where to start. Before you begin, gather supplies like trash bags and inexpensive containers. Set aside a small block of time, usually less than an hour. Larger spans of time will just leave you feeling tired and overwhelmed. In fact, plan to organize in small blocks of time more often. Consistency, rather than one large effort, is key.
1. Pull everything out. If you’re organizing your pantry, pull everything off the shelves and into a space that allows you to see everything.
2. Clean the area by wiping down shelves, sweeping, etc.
3. Sort all of your items in these categories:
- Trash (or recycling).
- Things to donate.
- Things to sell. If you’re using this category, make sure you have items are worth the time it will take to sell them. Be realistic with yourself. If you won’t have time to sell something, donate it instead.
- Things to keep. If you’ll use an item, or if it’s something you love, put it back on the shelf.
- Undecided. Not sure what to do with something? Put it in a box. Date the box and look at it again in six months. Chances are, if you don’t use an item in six months, you won’t need it ever.
Being organized doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort. You’ll be most successful when you take time consistently to organize your home or workplace. As you focus on being organized, your physical and mental health will likely improve.