Stuck moment: Who took my freaking keys? I found one clean shirt, but where’s the iron? Weren’t my files right under that pile of magazines? I guess it’s just going to be one of those mornings — again.
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When our homes are cluttered, it’s hard to think straight. We get cranky and exhausted, and we might not even know why. But if chaos is what you come home to each night, and what you launch yourself into the world from each morning, it’s going to take a toll. You end up feeling like a smaller, less authentic version of yourself.
An easy antidote is to stop thinking about getting organized as a drain on our time and energy, and instead look at it as a way to maximize the time and energy we do have.
Ask yourself, What can an organized home environment do for me?
Some pretty amazing things, it turns out. Let’s take a look.
1. Establish a sense of control
When you create a system for where things go, and make a habit of putting them there, you reduce the things in life that are out of your control. And that boosts your belief in what’s possible. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, you can emerge from home ready to tackle the world. Start by making your bed; it just takes one minute, and it can help set the tone for the day. Or take 15 minutes each evening to tackle a different housekeeping task.
2. Shore up confidence
Living at the mercy of your mess undermines an overall feeling of success. If you don’t have a handle on where things are at home, it’s hard to feel like you can manage that exciting new project at work. Start by learning strategies that, little by little, turn your home into a place you’re proud to be. Then let that confidence ripple across other possibilities in your life.
3. Increase productivity
We can waste so much time looking for things when they’re not in the right place or hidden under clutter. Habits and routines that keep your clothes in the closet and your keys hanging by the door streamline your day, freeing up time and mind space. All of a sudden, you have the extra 10 minutes you need you eat breakfast. Awesome.
4. Prioritize the real priorities
Getting organized allows you to start crossing stuff off the urgent column, so you can tackle stuff in the important column. It’s a question of priorities: It’s difficult to start the big things if you’re chasing after or distracted by the small to-dos. A tidy workspace makes you feel energized and ready to tackle Phase One of that pet project you’ve been thinking about for months.
5. Power creativity
Problem-solving requires maximum brainpower, and a messy environment can take your creativity hostage when you’re cursing your own clutter, or the dirty sink/shower/laundry is niggling at your mind. If housekeeping tasks become automated, it frees up your mind — and living space — to think more deeply.
The key is to form habits to automate those little housekeeping tasks. You’ll free up brainpower to focus on important things.
6. Promote peace of mind
Waking up in a great mood can be as simple as waking up in a home where all the nice things you own are in reasonable, findable order. Because clutter is stressful. And not-great-to-look at. And kind of annoying. You’ll feel, and be, less busy when you can find things. And you’ll be calm instead of cranky
How to get started
Ask for help. We bet mom would love to lend a hand. Or, if you have an iPad or iPhone, use an app like Home Routines (currently available for iOS systems for $4.99), which has task lists and timetables to help you take charge of the clutter. Or use one of the expert guides below:
– What’s your clutter personality type?
– Clutter control: An a-z guide
– De-cluttering secrets from professional organizers
– How to de-crapify your home: A start-to-finish guide
– Organizing ideas for a small space
– Printable organizational checklists