A dozen empty water bottles, a 3-foot-long CVS receipt for a pack of orange Tic Tacs, crumpled up scraps of miscellaneous paper, gum wrappers, sticky quarters, and a melted tube of Chapstick adorn the carpet of your car.
Whether you’re a tortured artist audaciously surviving beyond the bounties of organization, or a graduate student in the midst of finals week, disorderly environments tend to sneak upon us and throw off our basic sense of daily balance. My own Iranian, Kurdish grandmother, who does not speak any English, surprised me when she said the words, “organize, no?” after peeking into my black, pleated handbag. Now what?
Unless you are a classified type A, chances are that you have shared a similar experience. For the greater part of our lives, we have been told to “be organized” and everything else will fall into place. Often times, cluttered surroundings can reflect an even messier mental space, making the process of decluttering not only meditative, but empowering.
With organization comes the elimination of unnecessary stress, as well as the saving of precious time spent looking for late library books, RedBox DVDs, and my personal favorite- car keys. Avoid late fees, and actually being late by cultivating your organizational skills and restoring a sense of order into your life.
While these skills may come naturally to some, others must actively work toward reaching a happy medium. Incorporate the following organizational habits into your daily routine, to further cultivate the necessary skills to decluttering your brain, and all that comes with it.
Clean Email Challenge
Challenge yourself to maintain a zero inbox by dedicating a day to clearing emails and unsubscribing from sites that add clutter to your email. Actively work to keep your inbox clear by deleting unnecessary messages at the end of the day. Eliminating email clutter is a start to giving you the fresh start you need everyday.
Rid Yourself Of Little Red Dots
Application notifications can easily pile on when you do not take initiative to clear them from your phone. Check those little numbered red dots on your iPhone to rid yourself of the barricade of outdated voice messages, texts, and snapchats. Taking such initiative may reveal to you forgotten software updates, text messages that disappeared in your inbox, and long lost reminders of a Venmo request for an Uber you split several weeks ago.
Get A Planner And Put It To Use.
This one can be tricky because let’s face it- no planner will help you in your quest for organization unless you put it to good use. The truth of the matter is that most planner users were not born so. Actively using a planning book takes time and practice to master, and if you are not careful, you may get overwhelmed and give it up all together.
Using a physical, paper book planner allows you to write down important tasks and visually absorb them. Tackle your schedule on a day-to-day basis and get into the habit of filling out your responsibilities as they come, to avoid missed appointments, important birthday’s, and bill due dates.
Make Lists For Just About Anything
List making provides a simple structure for sorting out your ideas and prioritizing daily tasks. Life is littered with lists, from grocery lists that remind us we need to get more milk to pros and cons lists that help us make informed decisions on everything from men to masters programs.
In addition to reminding us of our responsibilities, lists relieve stress by refocusing the mind on the core of what must get done. By facing each task head-on, we are less likely to get overwhelmed and more likely to take action.
Just as you are told not to wait until your gas tank is empty to fill up, the same rule applies to organizing. Clean out your closet each month to avoid hoarding clothing you have not worn in years, and be sure to set aside time every week to keep your personal space from becoming a complete mess.
This step is especially important to maintain during moments in life where you may feel like your priorities are elsewhere, such as studying for finals, in the middle of a major break-up, or the transitioning period in-between jobs. By putting in the active effort to declutter your space, you are more likely to be successful in scheduling your time, and maximizing on your energy.