Getting organized can seem like a totally overwhelming task — so much so that we often put it off entirely ... and ultimately dig ourselves deeper into a disorganization black hole. However, there are actually quite a few super fast and simple ways to organize certain parts of your life right now that seriously don't take much time or effort.
And there's a legitimate reason that organization genuinely makes us feel better. According to a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, it can actually have negative effects on our mental health, with women who describe their homes as "cluttered," or "unfinished," generally having higher rates of stress and depression than women who described their living spaces as "restful," and "restorative." Additionally, in an article for Psychology Today, psychologist Dana Gionta, Ph.D., says that the more control we perceive we have over our lives, the less stress we will feel.
If you're feeling stressed related to a lack of organization in your life, try some of the below nine tips to create a sense of order almost instantly.
1. Grab Everything From Your Closet You Never Wear
Getting rid of years worth of closet buildup may seem like a mammoth task, but it actually only takes a couple hours. Tiny House Talk, a site devoted to smaller living spaces and life simplification, recommended first pulling everything out of your closet. Put everything into three piles: keep, donate, or throw away. I promise you'll feel a thousand times lighter every time you open your closet door.
2. Collect All The Mail In Your House
In a piece for Good Housekeeping, Cheryl Eisen, home stager and President of the Interior Marketing Group, said she subjects every piece of mail that she gets to the "two F's test." If you can't file it or frame it, then you should toss it asap. This will save you sorting through a pile of mail on the weekend, or worse, losing something important. And if you haven't done this in a while, start today by collecting every scattered piece of mail in your home and put them to the test.
3. Clean Your Fridge
This is probably my personal most dreaded task ever, but it always only ends up taking about 45 minutes. Just grab a bag for things that need to get tossed or recycled, wipe down everything with some disinfectant spray, and voila. You officially look inside your fridge without cringing.
4. Create A To-Do List
In a piece for Forbes, productivity expert Vanessa Loder noted that to-do lists are extremely important in terms of keeping ourselves organized because they help us prioritize. However, she also stressed the importance of not overwhelming yourself with too many list items (in fact, she recommended keeping it to three, even though I personally like to keep track of every little thing in one place), and said to do the most important thing first. That way you'll already have accomplished the most necessary list-item, even if you don't get to everything.
5. Schedule In Organization Time
In an article for Oprah, professional organizer Julie Morgenstern recommends scheduling weekly declutter sessions into your weekly routine, as opposed to just waiting for a moment of organizing inspiration to strike.
In a piece for Apartment Therapy, professional organizer Jeni Aron also recommends taking 15 minutes every day for general organization upkeep. "I sort the mail right away, as soon as I retrieve it from the mailbox. I put things back in their 'homes' once I'm done with them. This way, I don't have junk piles all over my apartment that I have to spend hours on a Sunday wrangling and cursing," she says.
6. Organize Your Emails Into Folders
Sometimes emails and keeping up with contact information can be a huge source of our organizational anxiety, so Aron also recommends creating email folders. You can keep emails separated by personal, work, medical, school, etc., and be able to more quickly find the information you need. "When the project or year is over, go nuts with deleting," Aron says.
7. Live By The Two Minute Rule
Productivity author James Clear said that if any of the tasks you are putting off will take you less than two minutes, just do them now. "It’s surprising how many things we put off that we could get done in two minutes or less," he said. "For example, washing your dishes immediately after your meal, tossing the laundry in the washing machine, taking out the garbage, cleaning up clutter, sending that email, and so on." So just do it!
8. Create A Centralized List Of All Your Passwords
A compilation piece on ways to get organized on KeepInspiring.me noted the incredible convenience of compiling all of your passwords — e-mail accounts, banking, social media, etc— and keeping them in one (super safe) space. This will save you a ton of time in the long run and will mean you won't have to do the constant guessing game or password change every time you can't remember.
And finally, that same compilation piece recommended simply taking 30 minutes to unsubscribe to all the unwanted snail mail and emails. It might seem like an annoying task, but you seriously can't even imagine how much simpler your life will be without all that clutter.
Getting organized doesn't have to feel totally overwhelming. In fact, there are a ton of small things you can do almost instantly that will help streamline your life and — even more importantly — make you feel way better if you're stressed.
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