Do you ever feel disjointed? Overwhelmed? Like there just isn’t enough time in the day, the week, the month, the year? Do you forget things, or repeat information over and over in your head in the hopes of remembering them? Is your office decorated in piles of organized chaos? Is your apartment or home cluttered and filled with things you haven’t picked up, let alone dusted in years? Do you have a basket overflowing with way more blankets than you could possibly ever use, even if you invited every friend you have over for a slumber party? Okay, maybe that last one is just me…
When life is chaotic or when my house is in disarray or it feels like the knickknacks are going to drown me, the world feels like a big ball of static. That chaotic static becomes a giant shield between me and my creative juices. But, for some reason, no matter how much I know this to be true, it takes me a while to come to the conclusion that my self-imposed disarray is making that noise.
It starts off innocently enough. I’ll sit down to do a bit of writing, either on the couch, at my desk, or at the dining table. But, the moment I go to put fingers to keys, I get this itch. Something just doesn’t feel right. I close the laptop and step away, assuming I’m just not in the mood or lacking inspiration. Then, I’ll sit down again the next day and… yep. Not right. After a few trips to the computer only to walk away, I find myself sitting down to write and look up at the room around me and I realize… Damn… my house needs to be vacuumed. The dog’s toys are everywhere. I haven’t seen the surface of my desk in three months.
I will add a disclaimer that my apartment is shockingly organized in most areas and for the most part always put-together (except for the dog toys and vacuuming). This has to do with two things: a wonderfully clean fiancé and a lack of children. Even still, when my house gets even the slightest bit of clutter or off kilter in its feng shui, my spirit or subconscious mind FEELS it. And it disrupts my thoughts, motivations, and inspirations.
The same can be said for the not-so-tangible parts of life. I’m a pretty busy person between social commitments, volunteering, 1st job, (sometimes) 2nd job, wedding planning, my loved ones, and making time for crafting or writing. That busyness used to be a torrential source of anxiety. I felt like I couldn’t keep my life together, like I was forgetting things, or remembering last minute. I felt like I had no control over anything.
Then, I started religiously putting everything into a calendar with notifications. I mean, Fortune 500 CEO-level-busyness dedication to a calendar. Okay, worse. At one point, I was so busy, so wrapped up in work and side projects, that I had to start penciling in bedtime with notifications just to prompt me to go the hell to sleep. My devotion to my calendar became borderline neurotic… and to be honest that hasn’t changed much and for me personally I’m okay with that. I’m in no way advocating a scary devotion to your calendar, I’m just going to point out that they are kind of life-changing.
While I don’t pencil in my bedtime anymore, I’m still putting a lot of things on the calendar. This helps me plan my down time, ensure that I’m not overwhelming myself, remember little things (like picking up ingredients to make a dessert for a baby shower), and manage my life and happiness as a whole. It is my to-do list, my life organizer, my self-care roadmap.
Besides how organization is helping me maintain my sanity, how does it help other humans like me?
- Free up mental bandwidth. By taking the things you’re trying to remember, the birthdays, doctors appointments, meet-ups, and work trips and putting them on a paper (or digital) to-do list or calendar, you’re making space in that big ole’ brain of yours. Your brain is no longer putting energy into keeping that tab open, now your handy-dandy calendar is. All you have to do is check it. You no longer have to keep reminding yourself to remember something, and you can focus that energy elsewhere.
- Better focus equals more productivity. When you have the mental bandwidth to put to other things, more stuff gets done. The more that gets done, the more gets cleared off your plate.
- Motivation. A visual representation of your week or month and the to-dos involved offers a bit more motivation. When you see that list, it may be overwhelming at first. I mean, you had all THAT to do and were just storing it in your head? One project at a time. Get it knocked out. Then, scheduling future things will be easier. You’ll have your calendar and you’ll be sure not to overbook or overwhelm yourself. A visual representation of your time will give you motivation for self-care, especially if it is visually glaringly obvious you’re doing too much.
- Reclaim your time. When you see that visual of how much time you’re giving to other people, you’ll suddenly realize how much time you need to start giving yourself and your projects. Start putting time in that calendar for you. Literally.
- Work-life balance…. Is possible? Yep. Sure is. It just takes getting organized and understanding where your time is going. It also takes learning to say “no”, which, speaking from experience, takes a lot of practice.
- Get joy from letting go. There is a book that everyone was raving over a year or so ago. I actually have it and haven’t read it yet (sorry). The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I pretty much got the gist from the title and what people were saying. Junk hurts you. Hoarding champagne-style glasses from you Junior prom, stacks of magazines you blew through in a single hot minute, and mail you got two years ago but still aren’t sure if its important even though you haven’t looked at it since opening it…. Honey, in the great words of Queen Elsa, LET IT GO. Let go of those clothes you haven’t worn in a year but hope to fit into one day (I just did this). Let go of those tidbits of craft items you will NEVER use even though you think you will (Also just did this). Get rid of any inanimate object in your closet that hasn’t been of use to you in eons. Donate, donate, donate. Your junk is another person’s treasure… at least temporarily, until it also becomes their junk.
- Cleanliness is happiness. When your house is clean, the world feels free. Calming. Happy. Hell, it smells nice. Pick a day out of the week to be a cleaning day. Don’t want to take up your whole Saturday scrubbing toilets and doing a perfect rendition of Cinderella on your kitchen floor? Clean up after yourself throughout the week or mark times to clean specific rooms. Cooked dinner? Wash dishes after eating. Stop dumping your things on your dining table when you hit the door and be conscious of where you need to put them. Hang your coat up in the closet. When you keep up with the mess, there is less mess, which means less time devoted to cleaning and more time to Netflix’s new original series or finishing that novel.
- Develop good habits. The above aforementioned cleaning advice takes habitual practice. It’s hard to remember not to drop your coat over that dining chair. It’s hard to not just pile everything up instead of putting that lunchbox where it goes, your computer by the door, and your purse on the the wall hook. It is going to take a lot of self-reminders to get in the practice of doing those things. Not just with cleaning, but with anything. The key to being successful at organization and at any goal in life is habit. Make cleaning a habit. Make organization a habit. Make going to the gym a habit. Make the steps to your goals habit.
That is just eight benefits. There are many more to getting your home and life organized. What are some that you can think of? Are you ready to start developing those habits and getting organized? Put all those organizational pins on Pinterest to use and break out your calendar.