- Olivia - Freelance Writer - Nigeria
Updated: Sep 18, 2021
Have you ever felt so hapless due to the sheer amount of clutter in your space? It happens to even the best of us. The world today is consumed by an unprecedented level of consumerism. So, it can be hard not to fall prey to the various messages of materialism on display in mass media.
This has made staying organized very difficult. Our desire to buy whatever is fashionable has led to an excess of clutter. We cannot ignore the fact that clutter can be devastating to our psyche.
Studies after studies have shown how cluttered homes make their occupants really uncomfortable. For occupants of these homes, they repeatedly told researchers how their cluttered homes made them feel unsafe and insecure.
Unlike what the media has sold us, humans can survive on the barest minimum and still lead happy lives. Our survival needs hinge on shelter, sleep, food, and water. These are our core needs. After these needs have been met, we can then talk about financial stability, and personal safety. Then comes our need for love and acceptance within a given group. However, the truth remains that before other needs are taken into consideration, we must fulfil our core desires.
Practically, the home is what we consider shelter, providing a space where we can feel safe, and secure. This is what clutter prevents us from achieving in the home. There’s certain chaos that comes with a cluttered space, making it impossible to achieve serenity.
We can liken a cluttered space to bad eating habits. Think about it, nobody wants to cook in a messy kitchen, with dirty dishes and utensils stacked to the high heavens. So, rather than patiently getting to work and tidying up the kitchen, most people will find it convenient to just eat outside or order meals online. The result of this poor choice, is the onset of a bad eating habit that leads to bad health. Before you know, one has formed a debilitating cycle of a cluttered space and bad eating habits.
In this article, asides from taking a good look at how to stay organized, we would also be detailing the various benefits that one could derive in promoting a clutter-free space, at home, work, school, and just about everywhere else.
How cluttered space affects work productivity
Studies have shown that a cluttered work environment impacts negatively on employees and reduces their productivity. With a cluttered space comes the inability to focus. It also slows down mental processes and promotes distractions. There’s the inability of the brain to differentiate between relevant and irrelevant stimuli. So, the old saying, that a cluttered space is a cluttered mind, rings true.
And let’s not forget about the adverse health effects that a cluttered space can cause. A cluttered space, whether home or office brings about dust and mold – two causes of respiratory diseases such as, asthma and bronchitis.
Let’s say we have two employees in an organization – Mr. A and Mr. B. Mr. A is the carefree type whose office is piled up with stationery, thick books, lots of documents, and paperwork. Mr. A loves to read and update himself with the latest trends in his profession. So, he stacks his office bookshelves with current titles by experts in his field. There’s literally no room on any of the shelves. Sure, you will find very interesting books to read on his shelves. Mr. A also loves to hold on to old things. So, you will find his office desk drawer filled up with all manner of felt tip pens, antiperspirants, band-aids, safety pins, breath mints, spare keys, etc. It’s almost a war in there.
There’s a huge drawback that comes with having the type of clutter found in Mr. A’s office. Most times, he knows he has some interesting books on his shelf, but it takes hours to find a particular title. And having found it, he has to begin another painful process of removing the pile of dust on it. Mr. A also nearly ran into trouble waters with management because he couldn’t locate a very confidential document containing trade secrets.
Now, think about Mr. B’s office. Mr. B is a minimalist whose office has plenty of space for you to walk around. While Mr. B is a wide reader, he only keeps important books needed for everyday tasks. His shelves are also organized like a library, with detailed categories. Mr. B also has paperwork that is in folders stored in filing cabinets. He keeps only stationery needed for daily tasks in neat pots and racks.
Mr. A and Mr. B’s offices are the same sizes. However, fellow staff have repeatedly commented on how the latter’s office seems pretty large. Again, Mr. B has won awards after awards for his productivity in the organization.
Benefits that come with being organized
Some people find getting organized very daunting or one that doesn’t really matter. While it is true that it could be challenging getting a cluttered space organized, especially initially, it does matter, and the benefits are pretty awesome. So, here are a few benefits that being organized gives you.
1. You will stop losing things
According to research, the average American spends approximately 12 months of their lifespan looking for lost items. It’s mind-blowing. You can imagine opportunities lost. Imagine what you could do with this additional time in your life.
The average home in America contains about 300,000 items. This means that we own lots of things that we don’t use 80 percent of the time.
Let me ask when was the last time that you searched frantically for your car keys just before heading to work in the morning? Lost and Found Survey revealed the most misplaced items in our homes, include TV remotes (45%), phones (33%), car keys (28%), glasses (27%), shoes (24%), and wallets/purses (20%).
However, when your home is well-organized, the frequency of losing these items reduces instantly. Being organized brings clarity. You will know where every item is supposed to be, and when you need it, you will know where to find it.
There’s a sense of peace that comes with knowing that everything is in its rightful place in your home.
2. You will save money
Many of us have lost really important items that we needed urgently. We replace these items only to find our misplaced items days later. It has happened too many times to most of us.
Some homes are so cluttered that when the owners lose things, they don’t bother searching for them anymore, as it could be a hectic process. They just go ahead and replace these lost items right away.
When you keep your homes or office organized, you don’t have to keep on buying things that you already own. If you had saved every penny you spent on replacing lost items, you would have directed such funds to better investments.
The price of a disorganized and cluttered space results in a waste of money that you don’t likely have. Why spend your money on replacing lost items or to store a surplus of possessions? It would not be surprising to learn that many people rent storage facilities to house some of their belongings that can no longer be contained in their living quarters. It’s a shame.
3. Improved creativity
I may not know for other people, but I’ve found out as a creative person, that I’m never able to create content or work in a messy environment. I am usually too distracted to focus and draw from my creative flow. I found that when my immediate work environment is tidy, my brain processes things much faster.
It’s been proven time and time again that an organized environment frees up your mind to become more relaxed and focused. On the other hand, a messy environment creates a low quality result because your brain is disorganized and you’re not thinking straight. Subconsciously, instead of bringing in new ideas, your mind is focused on the clutter around it.
So, do you want creativity to flow unhindered? Keep a tidy and organized space.
4. You will have less stress to contend with
You may not have noticed, but the majority of the stress in your life stems from how disorganized your space is. If most of our health challenges are stress-related, this means that you could lead a happier life when these stresses are out of the picture.
Our surroundings can dictate the way we feel. Therefore, an organized space might just be the therapeutic catalyst we need to break out from our depressed state. When everything around you is in order, in its rightful place, you will feel calm and unbothered. Research has found a direct link between anxiety, depression, and clutter.
So, to start feeling good about yourself, it’s time to commence organizing your space.
5. Increased motivation
Just like in the case of making your bed in the morning, and organized space increases your confidence and motivates you to try your hands at many complex things. It may start with your making your bed. Next, you’re confident enough to get dressed to meet with a potential client. And before you know it, you’re signing a deal running into millions of dollars before the end of the day. When everything is organized, you get things done immediately, which provides you with more hours of the day to work on your goals and targets.
6. You will sleep better
Once again, I can relate this benefit to myself. There are times I’ve come home from a really busy day from work and proceeded to clean my entire bedroom. Although I knew I was practically exhausted from the events of the day, I still found enough strength to tidy my space. Why? Because I know I wouldn’t be able to sleep well. Not with the whole mess around me.
I love staring around my bedroom just before dozing off to sleep, and staring at a pile of junk just before I drift to sleep is the last thing I want. I’ve found that it programs my mind to accept chaos – something I don’t want.
So, it's very important to clean our space to enable better sleep.
Steps to Staying Organized and Developing the Decluttering Mindset
1. Let it go
The first step to staying organized and developing a decluttering mindset is to form the habit of allowing the excess to go. It can be hard letting go of certain things in life. Mind you, if it was easy everybody would be a minimalist and stay organized. Over time, we become emotionally attached to certain items. That is why memorabilia exists.
A way to detach yourself from these things is to remind yourself that holding on to them is robbing you of space for more important things – things that will provide meaning and purpose in your life.
Therefore, letting go can be one of the most important decisions you would ever make. When you let go, you feel lighter, you get more room in your surrounding, and there are fewer things left for you to worry about.
To stay organized, you will have to keep on practicing. Try arranging things in your space and finding new and better spots for them. At first, you may find it very challenging, as you can’t tell what to keep and what to discard. Sometimes, you may even get rid of an item only to find out that you really needed it after all. It’s all part of the process. With time, you will get the hang of it, and can confidently tell if some items are necessary or not. But as a rule, if you haven’t used it in a year, you don’t need it.
3. Stay focused
It is important that you stay focused throughout the long haul of forming a decluttering mindset. It is easy to fall back to easy habits that don’t require much work. However, never lose focus of the goal at hand. You can stay focused by taking note of milestones and progress.
Constantly remind yourself of the huge benefits of what you intend to achieve in the long run – a healthy way of living.
We can all agree that minimalism has a role to play in our ability to stay organized. While minimalism may mean different things to different people, at its core is the ability to eliminate life’s excesses and found on the essentials. Thus, staying organized and minimalism go hand in hand.
Minimalism acts as a tool, allowing you to focus on what’s important more clearly. It helps you clear away the clutter so you can focus on living an intentional life.
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