From Marie Kondo to my pals over at DwellWell in NYC, one thing we all have in common is the joy of being organized. Being organized is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and others. Tidy habits and behaviors expand life efficiency, reduce stress and anxiety and increase those moments of calm that we so desperately seek in today’s face-paced world.
From childhood, I used a daily planner, and I still do to this day. Yes, I have to write things out in order to remember them. But that childhood habit of using a planner was the stepping stone to regulating my everyday life choices from youth to current adulthood. For me, having things physically structured helps reduce my stress. Yet, when it comes to my bedroom closet, it’s a work-in-progress. Either way, I am far from perfect, but ensuring that the vast majority of my physical space is organized creates an immaculate difference in my mental state and in my relationships. Sounds crazy, but it’s true! Once a week my husband will find me re-organizing cabinets, closets and clearing out clutter and clothes that are better suited at Goodwill than taking up unnecessary space and positive energy.
When I resided in Manhtattan I worked for DwellWell, a professional organization company. Our clients ranged from all backgrounds, but one thing they all desired was life balance and structure through organization, and that’s where we came in. Whether it was a clients office space, home setting or preparing a move and downsizing, clients craved physical order as part of their wellness routine.
A study led by associate professor NiCole R. Keith, Ph.D., a research scientist and professor at Indiana University, tracked the physical health of 998 participants between the ages of 49 and 65. Participants who maintained an organized and clean home were healthier physically and mentally than those who kept the home a mess and disorganized.
A 2010 study published in the scientific journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin studied the ways women discussed their homes and how that linked to their overall wellness. Women who described their living quarters as “cluttered” were more susceptible to depression, lethargy and expressed higher levels of stress. The other group of women who described their homes as “restorative” and “restful” showed lives of greater ease and contentment. So what does this all mean? Being organized may impact your mental health and wellness. Great, right? Right!! But now you need to take the steps to achieve a more simplified and structured lifestyle through organization. And how does one accomplish that? Below are a few tips to get you started:
- Go through your closet or dresser drawers. Pull out your clothes and truly evaluate what you wear vs what you “think” you’ll wear. If it’s been sitting on a hanger for over a year untouched, toss it into the Goodwill bag. As Kondo suggests, if it doesn’t give you joy, let it go.
- Go through your pots, pans, and dishes. Do you really need ALL of them? And let’s talk about the Tupperware collection with mismatched tops. Yup, donate and downsize the collection to what’s reasonable.
- Books. I love books as much as the next person, but some are great to donate to Goodwill or a used book store. Don’t throw away any books. Books are a gift, so donate and pass them on.
- Bathroom and kitchen cabinets, much like your bedroom closet, if an item is expired or broken, toss it. Downsize to what you need vs want. For cosmetics, it’s key to check that expiration date!
- Invest in closet organizers from The Container Store or better yet, use old shoe boxes or old Tupperware to organize your things that are in closets and cabinets. It makes finding items fast and easy.
So this list is a start, and many of these tips can be applied to one’s office space, a kids room, toy bins, the garage and so on. It will take time and practice, but stick to it till this becomes a healthy habit. Until then, hire a professional organizer or read up on organization tips from Kondo and DwellWell.