In full disclosure, I am not an expert at organization. I do not have an advanced filing or labeling system. I can still function in a bit of chaos. In fact, recently, my sister reminded me of of a time (when we were younger) when my room was filled with piles. I had piles of college mail, books, magazines, and papers related to school. My father’s plea was, “Can you please just make a path to the telephone?” haha Yikes. I read somewhere that water people often can be identified by their piles haha…so we’ll go with that ;)
But the truth about clutter is that no matter how organized it feels, it is bad for your body, mind, and spirit. If you’ve ever walked past a pile of mail and said, “I need to go through that,” but kept walking (I have)…or ever had a disorganized corner that you try to cover up artfully (I have)…or a closet that you were afraid to deal with (yes, me too!), then I am talking to you. haha
Perhaps quite obviously, clutter attracts dust. A pile of books is hard to clean. Based on my extensive experience in this area (haha), I can also say that things are generally hard to find when piled. So it is more likely that a pile will stay where it is getting dusty (aggravating sinuses, etc.) instead of being effectively used.
Clutter is also said to trap qi (chi). Just as air flows more freely in empty space, so does positive energy. I am partial to airy, open spaces because I can actually breathe better. Being in closed, cluttered, and dusty spaces feels suffocating. It just isn’t healthy for your body.
Cluttered space, cluttered mind. I believe that clutter causes anxiety, confusion, and leads to procrastination in other areas of life. Generally, when you put off something that you need to do, the thoughts of needing to do it remain. Those thoughts get added to your mental To-Do list, which never gets cleared unless you do something about it.
Every time you pass an area of clutter, your brain is registering your need/desire to do something about it. And every time you do nothing, you create a feeling of disappointment in yourself (even if you don’t realize it). This actually takes energy away from other aspects of your life that you need to address. Because your mind is full of unaddressed clutter, your finances, dreams and passions may actually be getting less energy and attention!
Beyond the physical and mental, I think clutter makes you feel crazy haha Instead of talking about it, let’s try an experiment. How does the image below make you feel?
This picture makes me feel crazy haha I don’t even really want it on the blog haha How does this person ever get anything done?! Yikes.
Now, how about this one?
Photo source//nice article about cubicle organization here
This cubicle makes me feel more relaxed. I feel like I could actually get some work done! If I saw the other work space, I’d probably turn around and leave haha
These are just cubicle spaces, but think about the cubes of space in your living and work areas. Each section and each corner has an opportunity for greater organization…leading to greater peace and clarity for you!
Again I must say that I am not an expert at organization. (I have friends that are…and I’m amazed at their skills!) However, I’ve learned that I’m far more comfortable without clutter. I recently did some “re-modeling” on some of my spaces and thought it worth sharing some simple strategies I used to de-clutter.
- Instead of trying to clean your whole space at once, organize by section. Take on your desk today and your bathroom drawers next weekend. Trying to do everything at once will wear you out and lessen your commitment to finish. Start small and before you know it, you’ll transform your whole space!
- You may want to wear a [dust] mask, you are likely to kick up dust/allergens in the process.
- Be ready to get rid of a lot of stuff! If you haven’t touched it in years, throw it away or give it away. Seriously. You don’t need it, someone else might! Old medicines and cosmetics become toxic: toss! Many charitable organizations like Goodwill or the Salvation Army will give you tax credit for donating home items, clothes, shoes, etc. Ladies, I also recommend checking with local shelters (LA: 1736 Family Crisis Center) about donating clothing directly to women in need. Doing good while cleaning your space is a really good feeling :)
- Wherever you have a pile, add a bookshelf! This was really important for me because books were taking over my space! A bookshelf can be used to store ‘things’ along with your books. Get creative! Bookshelves can be expensive, but I was really inspired by this free bookshelf idea I got from an online blog paint + tofu using wine crates!
- How I did it: I followed the advice of the blogger and went to wine stores (I found that only high end/fine wine stores still get wooden crates…other liquor stores just get the cardboard boxes) and asked politely for used wine crates and offered to pay for them. The shop managers gave me the crates for free and I made an awesome bookshelf out of four crates…for free!! I actually liked the natural wood color and didn’t stain the wood, but that’s an option if you want a different look. I also read about people painting or using wallpaper to style the insides of the crates :)
Photo source//cool blog with idea here
- I found that wicker baskets work well for closets and random places like under the sink (where shelving may not fit). The Container Store has these baskets, but I found cheaper options at Ross, Marshall’s, and Home Goods. Organizing each crate by category (e.g. cleaning materials, beauty products, etc.) makes it easier for you to know where to find things and when you’re running low on something.
- Stay committed. There will be times when the process will seem overwhelming. Turn on music, take breaks to eat, and just keep going! It will be worth it when you finish :)
- Maintain your de-cluttered space by trashing/shredding/organizing mail right away; committing to a regular cleaning schedule (weekly or bi-weekly); have a policy to get rid of (give away!) an old item every time you buy something new! :)
More than anything, getting rid of the clutter helps you clear your mind. It also opens up space for you to let more new in! De-cluttering leads to cleaning and updating…so ultimately you will have a new look and feel when you are done. You will free up energy (qi) that you can use for other areas of your life. Use the same principles of de-cluttering and seek to trash and organize your papers as well! The time right after you de-clutter is an excellent time to balance your financial books and plan for future endeavors.
Lots of luck to you! Just remember to start small and keep going! ;)
Photo source: Serenity by Eng Yap