Updated: Jan 22
Organizing your home is essential to living a stress-free life. There are many benefits to organizing that most wouldn't think of. Below the cluttered surface, there are psychological benefits, stress-reduction, + financial incentives to living an organized life.
Keeping things organized has a positive psychological impact on your body. Yep! Think of that feeling that you get when you walk into a trashed house. This could be after a party, or at the end of a hectic day. It is NOT calming and can make your anxiety sky-rocket. Alternatively, think of the feeling you get when you walk into your home after it's just been cleaned. Everything has a home and nothing is on the floor. You have a sudden state of relaxation. Less stimuli (clutter) means fewer distractions. You can think more clearly, which of course means that you can more easily focus on what matters to you. So here's your homework: Start with the essentials and choose one specific space. Get that one space organized, today. For myself, my top three priorities are my bedroom (sleep is of top importance), the kitchen, a girl has got to eat and I simply do not want to cook in a dirty kitchen, and the beach bag. If you live in the Bay Area, beach days are frequent and a must. So I'd start with my bedroom and tackle the dresser in 10 minutes or less. If I have time, I'd do the same thing in the kitchen, and then head to the beach with my pre-packed beach backpack. Time invested: 20 minutes. That's an easy win!
At the beginning of the process, decluttering a space and preparing to organize it, you need to let go of what isn't working. To do that, yep, you guessed it, take everything out. Identify what you want from the space, make a game plan, categorize your "keep items", and organize. Remember, less is more when it comes to home organizing. Organize your home, and your stress levels will decrease. Don't forget that the more you organize, the easier it gets. As you go through each item, you'll quickly discover that you either have an attachment to it, or they can be donated. It's that feeling you get when you hold an item and you think to yourself, "Ugh, now I have to deal with this...." -- those are the "donate items". Get a trash bag or boxes ready because once you get on a roll, it will quickly fill-up. If you're debating selling the item, I would recommend donating it (this goes back to the psychological benefits), build the habit of letting it go immediately...not in 4 months when it finally sells on Craigslist or Poshmark for a third of what you wanted and a fraction of what you paid for it. On the most basic level, think about what you can manage. Do you have time to clean up 400 toys each day, or can you support your child to clean up 4 toys each day after they place with one. Clutter induces stress hormones, not only for parents, but also for kids.
Lastly, let go of the idea that your home needs to look like a magazine. Sure, we can all swoon over those stunning pantries, but not everyone has a pantry. You can reuse bins to organize, after you've decluttered, you can even make them out of cardboard and throw on some fabric for flare. Simply to get everything in your "priority space" organized is a huge step forward. Once you've tackled a space, it becomes a routine to put things away in their homes after use. But how does organizing my home save me money? Simply put, when you take everything out and give each and every item a home, you quickly realize what you have. For most of my clients in the Bay Area, having duplicate items is common. This means that buying another set of markers, a fifth extension cord, another printer because you are missing that one piece, or a spatula, wouldn't be necessary, if you had known where it was in the first place.
If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more about in-person organization in the Santa Cruz and Bay Area regions, say hi! If you're from far away, many Professional Organizers, including myself offer virtual services. If you're a DIYer, check-out my course on how to go from Stressed Mess to Clutter-Free Happiness.