I wasn’t always a naturally organized person. In fact, I would be whatever you would call the exact opposite. Borderline hoarder over here. However, I have found the amazing mental and physical benefits that can be gained from being a more organized person. Of course, this isn’t something that will just happen overnight. I get that. That’s why I put together this list of tried and true methods for slowly shifting from a messy hoarder into an organized person.
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The benefits of less
A lot of times we fear losing our stuff because we have attached to it somehow. However, there has been immense proof that we stand to benefit from less cluttered living spaces. Some of the benefits include:
- Less stress
- Better mental clarity
- Faster decision making
- Improved mood
- More time
That’s just to name a few. However, when we are not used to being an organized person, or we have attached ourselves to our objects, it can feel impossible to ever get ahead with clutter.
To keep things short, sweet, and highly effective I have put together 5 of the easiest (but most proven) effective methods for rewiring your brain to be a more organized person.
Creating new habits
Chances are, if you are living in cluttered chaos, it’s because you have some nasty ingrained habits. It’s ok, we all do. The best strategy for changing this is first learning how a habit is formed.
Believe it or not, even our longest-running habits follow a 4 step pattern.
This is a concept I learned from the book The Power of Habit although I think the book uses different wording. (Personally, I prefer my catchy, rhyming steps.)
How to our habits work?
All of our habits, whether good or bad, follow the four steps I listed above. Let’s follow the steps with a habit like say, leaving your mail on the kitchen counter or leaving dirty dishes in the sink.
Step 1: Trigger – You’re done eating.
Step 2: Desire – You want to relax.
Step 3: Reaction – Dishes go in the sink.
Step 4: Satisfaction – You don’t have to worry about.
Our habits work as simply as this. In order to retrain ourselves into gaining a new habit, we have to switch a few things around.
Retraining your habits
The main reason we stick with any habit is that we have learned there is satisfaction at the end of it. Therefore, in order to re-train a habit, we still have to work toward that end result (although it might look a little different.)
For example, when you are triggered after eating and you want to relax instead of putting a dish in the sink, put it in the dishwasher.
This seems so simple, yet a lot of us struggle to maintain a habit like this. Here are some ways to make it a little easier.
- Make the dishwasher easy to access – while dinner is cooking, put any clean dishes away, and leave the dishwasher open for instant after-dinner access.
- Get more satisfaction – having a completely clean kitchen will soon prove to be reward enough. However, to get in the habit and sweeten the deal, you could have small mints in a jar above the dishwasher and after you put your plate in, you get a minty after-dinner reward.
Mix and match
For your unique messy habits, it will take some unique restructuring to get it just right.
Just remember, work to make the end result just as exciting and satisfying (if not more so) than the original habit. And, don’t forget to make your new habit as easy to stick to as possible!
If you are curious about how to retrain your habits more, definitely check out The Power of Habit.
Keep one spot clean
Another genius idea for training yourself to become a more organized person is to start in an extremely minimal way.
If you are someone who is in the habit of just throwing your stuff everywhere and maybe never really cleaning or taking out the garbage, then you might be feeling extra hopeless.
You might feel like there is no point in switching up your habits because you still would be surrounded by clutter.
If that’s how you’re feeling right now. Don’t worry, I’ve got a 5 minute solution to help you get started.
Small action is still action
One of my top-read posts on decluttering is how to declutter one room at a time. While I stand by this post, even more beneficial information has come to
In the book, The Happiness Advantage, the author, Shawn Archor talks about helping a messy student slowly transform his dorm room from a pit of pizza boxes into a well-organized haven.
All it took was massively small action!
Keep one spot clean for one week
Start with one area, just one and keep it clean for a week. In the case of the Harvard student, it was one spot of his desk.
His job for one week was to keep this one section of his desk totally spotless. No new junk was to be added to it. Then after one week, he cleaned more of the desk and kept that clean for the following week.
This might sound like a painfully slow process, but the truth is (and I think you can back me up on this), whenever we try to tackle a massive cleaning project, we usually hit a wall where everything is somehow messier and we have zero motivation to finish what we started.
Instead of failing at your clean up, just get really good at starting super small.
Create a system for less distraction
If making the dishes easier to do simply by opening up the dishwasher is helpful in creating new habits, then another good addition to that is to make getting distracted super hard.
So, the first thing to do is ask yourself is, “What are my biggest distractions?”
For example, you always want to sort your mail, but somehow the second you walk through the door, you head to the fridge for an easy-grab snack. The mail ends up on the counter, in a pile with everything else and it never actually gets sorted.
How to get less distracted
A great way to avoid distraction and make sorting your mail easier would be to start sorting before you even get to the door. Start by choosing junk mail for the recycling bin. Toss those items before you even step foot in the house.
Now, have a mail slot available the second you get through the door….before you make it to the fridge!
Maybe you know your biggest weakness is watching a little too much Netflix instead of spending your Saturday cleaning like you promised yourself you would do. If that’s the case, make the TV harder to access.
Hide the remote, set a sleep timer, unplug the TV. Friday night, when you’re feeling determined…get ahead of your lazy Saturday self that will be looking for excuses.
Lose yourself in social media? Turn off notifications, delete the apps from your phone and download them again after you’ve cleaned one area of your house.
Set a timer
There is truly nothing better to starting healthy habits (in any area) than by setting a timer.
When I went through a major fitness battle and never wanted to go to the gym, I just told myself all I had to do was 20 minutes. Just 20 minutes. That’s it. “You don’t even have to try hard.” I would tell myself.
Set a timer, turn on some music and just focus on one area for 20 minutes. Sometimes, you just might find that you want to keep going!
My biggest tip here is to stick with ONE area! A single dresser, one side of the closet, vacuuming the living room floor.
Pick one area to focus on when you set your timer so that you don’t do that thing where you wander from room to room putting things away and then end up actually having no area of your house any cleaner than when you started.
To be fair, this last tip could go hand-in-hand with some of the other tips I have already shared. However, it is worth repeating because getting in the habit of pivoting can help you continue to be an organized person.
Some of these other tips will help you start cleaning, start tidying, but this small tip will help you officially gain the title of “organized.”
What is pivoting?
Raise your hand if you have a hamper, but toss clothes on the floor instead and just leave them there? Anyone?
If you are in this habit, of leaving the toothpaste out, clothes on the floor, or toilet paper rolls on the counter, I have great news for you! All you have to do is pivot.
You are already going through all of the similar motions, there is barely even an extra step required. Instead of tossing clothes on the floor, toss them in the hamper.
By taking the time to pivot before you set something down you waste zero energy and reward yourself with a tidier home and a better mental state of mind.