Organizing Your Life in the New Year 

As you look around your environs, do you see piles of papers, a tower of books, dust bunnies peeking out from under the bed, heaps of laundry, dishes in the sink and on counter tops? If you are like most people, there is at least one room in your home that is messy. What would it be like to see clear spaces and clean surfaces?

We’re not talking about white glove clean, but some semblance of order that could positively affect the rest of your life. January is National Get Organized Month, the purpose of which is to assist people in creating more successful lives through ridding their spaces of unnecessary clutter and chaos.

When we are surrounded by mess, it is sometimes harder to think, focus and accomplish tasks. For folks with the diagnosis of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), keeping track of necessary items, such as keys, wallet and cell phone is so much simpler if they have a reliable place to be. A 63-year-old workaholic woman with a lot on her mind makes certain her keys get set on her dresser a moment after entering her house. Another, an artist, and teacher in her 60s as well, has a note on the wall by her front door that reminds her to carry with her those aforementioned items.

What is the origin of disorganization? For some, a history of trauma and family dysfunction. For others, a home that itself was filled with more stuff than what was really needed. On a blog called Space for You: Clear the Clutter, Heal Your Life, the author talks about Vulnerability Factors that might pre-dispose someone to live in a cluttered environment. They include growing up in a messy home where hoarding was common, and/or a history of OCD, ADD or PTSD where dynamics around cleaning and organizing are often challenging. When people experience depression, there is sometimes little energy to do more than get out of bed, let alone clean and put things in their place. Shopping addiction may contribute to the unworn clothes in the closet with tags still on them after a year, or the items ordered from QVC because after seeing them tantalizingly displayed on the tv screen they just HAD to be bought. Objects fill a desire for the D.O.S.E. of feel-good hormones: Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphins.

There are tremendous benefits to maintaining organization in your surroundings that include saving time, peace of mind, reducing stress, and feeling more comfortable inviting people to visit without embarrassment.

George Carlin had a hilarious routine in which he talks about Stuff. He observed that our house is a pile of stuff with a roof over it and a place to keep our stuff while we go out and get more stuff.

Some thoughts about how to keep your stuff from taking over your space:

Consider the words of a single father of teenagers. He would remind them, more often than he would have liked to, “The sink is for washing dishes, not storing dishes.”

Post this somewhere in your home or office where you can see it.

House Rules

· If you open it, close it.
· If you take it out, put it back
· If you drop it, pick it up
· If you make a mess, clean it up

If you carry something into a room and are finished with it, carry it back to where it lives before you go to bed.

Do your best to clean the kitchen before you turn in for the night. Waking up to a sink full of dishes is not likely to make your day any easier.

If cleaning an entire room feels daunting, take care of one surface, shelf, or drawer at a time

Donate what you no longer use to thrift shops or clothing drives.

If you are feeling truly ambitious, Marie Kondo your space by only keeping what ‘sparks joy.’

Having a clean, tidy living space is good for our souls.  It feels like we can breathe, relax, and even open to the moment and to our creativity—without an inner critic reminding us to clean up and organize.

When you create empty spaces in your home, you also empty out the inside of your head, calling in peace of mind. Or you can heed the words of Methodist theologian, John Wesley and consider whether “cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

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