Spring Cleaning - Organization

A few days ago, I read a quote that says, “Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.” I feel two ways about this. First, I somewhat agree: chaos and disorder have a way of making things interesting, fun, spontaneous, and people who never, ever deviate from order are, well, quite boring. (I can be one of those people!) On the other hand, order – in the right dosage and used the right way – can make more room for life to happen. You get a better understanding of the time that’s available. You’re more aware of what can and cannot be moved on your calendar. Physically, you know (better) where various items are, especially those of importance. It becomes easier to determine which t-shirts and pairs of underwear are clean… and which ones aren’t so clean. (No sniff tests, please.) Organization and order minimize the hassle and headache associated with “where is this” and “whose is that,” streamlining life for a little ease and direction.

Being organized is beneficial.

(1)   Order and organization decrease stress. Less stress means improved health (I can talk about this one for days!) and a better ability to manage life’s curveballs. It is easy to find studies that demonstrate the association between long-term stress and decreased health. Sometimes, even intense, short-term stress can create health issues. (As someone who has suffered through migraines for years, I speak from experience.) Being less stressed makes you less frazzled, so when life drops an unexpected situation in your lap, you have the energy to assess the situation, determine an action plan, and get moving without losing (all of) your mind!

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(2)   Being organized creates more time. A system of order and organization minimizes the necessity to hunt for items like keys, wallets, glasses, receipts, bills, and cellphone cords. We spend ten minutes a day looking for items we have lost or misplaced. Men are apparently worse than women when it comes to this. Good job, ladies. Using a calendar can help put events and tasks in their place and free up time that is often spent trying to decide what to do next. A simple routine or daily plan of action could open up enough time to enjoy a 15-minute walk during lunch, a calmer drive home, or actual downtime with friends and significant others.

Being organized is simple.

Whether it is work or home, organizing is easy – and necessary – to increase productivity and free time.

To organize your disorganized life, take Keenyn Bijou’s tips to start small, get friendly support, and use a calendar. (Let me tell you – in college, Google Calendar saved my life. And now that I have a big girl job, Outlook is my absolute best friend. Color-coding certain events is the shiznit!) Nicole Booz, our Editor-in-Chief, offers options for getting organized in a small space. (For instance, the space under your bed is better suited for storing shoes and out-of-season clothes than collecting dust. Just a hint.)

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A few other things to keep in mind:

(1)   Be willing to throw things away. You know, that stack of old bills and expired coupons on your kitchen counter? Filter through them. Expired coupons – or coupons to places you never go – should go in the trash can or recycle bins. And those old bills should be shredded to protect your identity. Minimize clutter by throwing away bills older than six months. (Most information is online anyway; use that to your advantage.)

(2)   Give things away. You haven’t worn that sundress in two summers. Give it to charity. The Goodwill, thrift stores, and consignment stores want your gently used hand-me-downs. And with consignment stores, you can earn a few dollars for your clutter too!

(3)   Consistency with small steps is key. Commit to using a calendar or planner every weekday for two weeks. Once you see how much more efficient you are with time, you can decide to dedicate an hour to organizing your desk. At home, put real mail into the “inbox,” hook keys on the wall, and drop junk mail – coupons, solicitations, advertisements – in the trash. Break the habit of holding onto things you don’t need, so a complete overhaul isn’t necessary again.

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Organization is one of a twenty-something’s best friends. This is the time to build healthy habits to lead a calmer, grown-up life. Creating a few systems to streamline – and declutter – work and home helps tremendously.