What better time to spruce up your space than the spring? With all its new blooms and airy freshness, it’s hard not to catch the wave of inspiration, especially with all the cool organizing gadgets out there. Still, just because we want to organize our stuff or even need to, doesn’t mean we do it.
While the idea of spring cleaning sounds lovely, sifting through months or even years of clutter can be a challenge. Oftentimes the stress of a busy life causes us to live in a state of disorganization longer than we’d like to be. I know I've let things pile up during stressful periods with no effective organizing system in place.
Some of us bounce back relatively quickly, and can put together a nicely, organized space showing no trace of the disaster that was there only a day before. Others have a harder time, and disorganization may be reflective of deeper, emotional conflicts that create a feeling of being stuck both inside and out. Since organizing is as much an emotional activity as a physical one, the process of decluttering, throwing away, and organizing can be an important initial step in alleviating emotional distress. So whether it’s pretty easy to get organized once you put your mind to it, or you need more of a push to make it happen, here are 4 good reasons to get yourself in gear and start organizing now.
1. Clutter is Disrupting Your Life.
The Problem: Each morning you raid through every nook and cranny of your home trying to find the keys you last dumped…somewhere. They’re never in the same place twice and can usually be found amidst other stuff you’ll soon be searching for. Maybe you turn over every bin in your home office looking for the stapler or other supplies you were just using five minutes ago. How about your closet has, shall we say, “expanded” to other parts of the room, and now you choose your outfits from a pile on the floor where your shoes should be. Your disorganization is becoming less tolerable each day— it’s affecting your daily routine, makes you feel lousy about your space, and intensifies every other negative feeling you have.
The Why: When you’re disorganized in one area of life, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find that level of disorganization elsewhere. Be aware of patterns in your life. The clutter may mirror the chaos you’ve been experiencing in your career, relationships, or other significant area.
The Fix: Once you recognize those areas that are just as topsy-turvy as your things, begin to deal by creating an organized, functional space that is more reflective of the way you’d like to approach life. As much as clutter can negatively affect how we proceed through the day, an organized space can have a similar, opposite effect giving us a positive, renewed outlook and more clarity to tackle other challenges.
2. You're Tired of Dreaming About It:
The Problem: You want the dream life, the dream job, and of course, the dream home. Maybe you’ve fantasized over well kempt homes you see on blogs or in mags, or you’ve visualized down to the last detail how you'd organize our home. You have a habit of buying organizing accessories that up until now have only collected dust, adding to the clutter.
The Why: While dreams can certainly propel us to action, the relationship between dreams and action is complicated. Studies show positive fantasies can actually hinder people from taking action. This is because dreaming relaxes us, making it more difficult to feel the need to do something. It’s kind of like we substitute the fantasy for the doing, and the good vibes we get from it makes us less attuned to cues that might otherwise help us interpret our situation in a more realistic way. So if you spend your time dreaming about a well laid out closet, you may be missing out on real-life opportunities that could help you get the closet you want.
The Fix:When dreams are combined with a realistic assessment of our situation, we are more likely to turn them into action. Think about the resources you don’t or do have to get organized. (Maybe you have limited storage and feel overwhelmed, but have a very organized friend who can help.) Then make a plan of action to deal with what is standing in the way of you and organizing. This way your fantasy can be grounded in reality; and when you resolve to make the sacrifice (whatever that may be for you) needed to take action, you are in a better position to see your organized space take shape.
3. You’re Ready for a More Fulfilling Life.
The Problem: Disorganization is negatively affecting other areas of your life, and you’re not living life as fully as you’d like to. You have a cluttered space that is confining and prevents you from expanding, and this may signal difficulties with expanding and growing in other areas.
The Why: Many times we’re stuck in a clutter rut with a lack of clarity on what our clutter means about us. It can mean different things for different people. Maybe it symbolizes remnants of your past you’re committed to holding on to. Or maybe you buy a bunch of stuff that reflects the life you plan on living but haven’t gotten to yet. Sometimes clutter is adaptive such as when you’ve experienced a significant loss or trauma and can’t focus on organizing anything at the moment because you’re just trying to survive. But if your disorganization has long outlasted the event and you can’t seem to take action, avoidance can make it worse.
The Fix: Get clear on what your clutter means for you and address it. If your stuff is a reminder of people or things you don’t want to forget, think of other ways you can keep memories alive like limiting keepsakes to one box (it may be a very large box, but it’s one box), or transferring photographs to the computer. If you’ve bought tons of stuff for the life you’ll have someday, say business exec, identify what changes you need to make in your life to achieve that lifestyle. Then use the stuff you have to support the change, like a display shelf with self-help books to help bring out your inner bossdom. Although you may still feel not quite like yourself, cleaning up after you’ve been dealing with a significant loss is a good sign you are adjusting to your new normal. The more stuff you clear out and organize, the more room you make for new and rewarding things both physically and emotionally.
4. You Want to See That More Fulfilling Life by the End of the Year.
The Problem: If you promised yourself that you were going to organize your home this year, and you haven’t started yet, chances are it’s not happening any time soon. Most of us have gone through a major life transition that makes it difficult to focus on organizing. And before we realize it, we’re six months in with no sign that this cycle of “meaning to” is coming to an end.
The Why: The condition of your space is a pretty accurate indicator of how you think and feel,. When you keep pushing off organizing, you become more comfortable with the discomfort of the clutter, and the life you are looking for continues to feel out of reach. If you take the time to organize it even though you don’t feel like it, it sends a message that you are working through those things that are holding you back. Usually just deciding to do it is all it takes to get your wheels turning in the right direction. It’s much like working-out-- you may not want to but you always feel better afterward.
The Fix: If you think of your space as a catalyst to the life shift you envision, you can begin to see it differently and get the much needed boost to work on it now. Maybe you want to start a home business but haven’t started working towards it, still organize a workspace to help you run one efficiently. It doesn’t matter if nothing much in your life says business owner right now. It will. If you want to be more social this year but haven’t had time to reach out, create a sitting area to entertain friends even with no specific plans to entertain in the near future. You might have plans sooner than you think after exerting the effort of putting together a little gathering space. There’s something about behaving as if things are the way you want them (even if they aren’t yet) that puts things in motion. You don’t have to wait to make these first small steps. If you feel you need some help to start, considering hiring someone like a professional organizer, an interior stylist or designer, or even a design psychologist who can help you create a space that promotes the growth and change you are seeking.