In the weeks leading up to the election, I certainly wasn’t thinking about how the outcome might influence perceptions about organizing. But since Nov. 9, clients have mentioned feeling especially stressed, in part because Election Day was a stark reminder that some things are unexpected and just plain out of their control.
In an effort to restore a sense of order and calm to their lives, people have told me they feel compelled to get organized and create structure where possible.
It’s true that there are many things in life that you can’t control. Here are five things that you can.
If you have to scramble to put together an outfit in the morning or can’t easily locate what you want to wear, you’re adding unnecessary stress to your daily routine. Fortunately, you have full control over what is in your closet and how it is organized. If your closet is a mess, you can make it significantly better in just 30 minutes. First, make sure your clothing is categorized by type. Bottoms should be with other bottoms, shirts should be hanging together and all in one direction, and sweaters and shoes should be neatly arranged. Anything on the floor should either be put in a hamper or hung up. And if you see something you no longer want, start a donation bag.
Some people try to distract themselves from their anxiety by reading news articles, shopping for themselves or for others, planning vacations, or just endlessly scanning their social-media accounts. But spending too much time online is neither healthy nor helpful. Try to limit the time you spend scrolling through websites when you’re at home. Instead, make plans to get dinner with friends, see a movie or go shopping in a real store. Taking the initiative, following through and doing something fun will give you a sense of purpose and control.
Studies have shown a correlation between clutter and stress. The good news: Containing clutter is within your control. The bad news: It requires work and consistent attention. Make sure you have a specific place to put things that pile up quickly — school papers and projects, bills, magazines, office supplies, books. Spend 15 minutes every day putting things where they belong and tossing papers you don’t need. Finish household tasks such as laundry when possible. And spend a few minutes before you go to bed straightening up any mess left in your kitchen or living room. If you do these few things consistently, you’ll reduce both clutter and stress.
Instead of waiting to be invited to friends’ houses, plan a gathering at your own house. You do not have to plan a huge party, but just invite a couple of friends or neighbors over for a casual meal. Having friends or family over has the dual stress-reducing benefits of connecting with people in person and getting organized. There is nothing like a deadline for getting your home cleaned up and organized. Tasks that have gone undone for months have a way of finally getting completed when you know people are coming.
You know that organizing project that has been hanging over your head for several months, if not years? Stop letting it stress you out. Whether it’s finally putting together that baby book for your second child or looking through an old box of papers or photos that you’ve been ignoring, simply starting a project can lift some of that weight off your shoulders. You’ll also probably find that it’s not as daunting as you imagined.