When it comes to keeping my living space organized, I go through phases. One week, I might be inspired to organize my closet, alphabetize my bookshelf, and clean out the refrigerator in a single afternoon. Other weeks, however, it’s a struggle to simply hang up my coat at the end of a long day.
Most of us have heard the oft-repeated sentiment that an organized home fosters a calmer, more productive lifestyle. The irony, of course, is that someone in possession of a frenzied mind cannot readily take on better organizational skills, and therefore will continue to feel stressed and unproductive.
But instead of forcing yourself to organize an entire house or apartment in one day (which is overwhelming for anyone), your efforts will be more effective and sustainable if you develop habits around your goals.
1. Focus on the entryway.
Organization begins the minute we enter our living space. It can be tempting to rush inside, throw our coat and bag on the table or floor, and collapse in front of the television set. However, if you see shoe, coat, and key racks immediately upon entering the house, you’ll be more likely to use them. Bonus: if you make a habit of hanging your keys every time you come home, you won’t spend 20 minutes searching for them when heading out the door!
2. Less is more.
Minimalism is key when seeking to avoid clutter. By donating ill-fitting or outdated clothes and tossing unused boxes or errant papers, your home will be more spacious and open. In turn, you’ll become more vigilant about how you treat your belongings. You’ll suddenly become invested in a clean aesthetic and feel uncomfortable when your counter tops and desk look like a bomb went off.
3. Practice mindfulness.
Some people aren’t particularly keen on organization simply because they’re lazy (raises hand). Often, the anticipation of putting things away is far more stressful than the actual task at hand. For example, whenever I cook a large meal, I dread washing pots, pans, bowls, etc. by hand. In order to make the task a little more enjoyable, I’ll often practice a moving meditation, paying close attention to the way the water feels on my hands, the sound of the soap lathering on a pot. In adopting this habit, an otherwise annoying chore becomes an opportunity for stillness.
4. Wake up earlier.
Setting an alarm for 5, 6, or even 7 a.m. might seem a little extreme, but I promise that it will be your favorite time of day once it becomes a habit. You’ll not only have a quiet and reflective time all to yourself, but an earlier wake-up time will also afford you the ability to put away dishes, pick out an outfit, make your bed, etc. It will also be refreshing to come home to a clean and tidy space after a long day.
5. Just start.
If you’re feeling unmotivated to complete a chore that desperately needs doing, the best thing to do is just start. As I mention above, sometimes psychological barriers are the most difficult to overcome. When we stop moaning and simply take care of what needs to be done, we’ll get in the habit of keeping things neat before procrastination or dread set in.
Have you adopted any habits to keep your living space organized?
Also by Molly: How to Create a Productive Workspace
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Photo: Peaceful Dumpling