The 5-Minute Stay Organized Solution
A few weeks ago I found myself exclaiming “Yes! Yes! Yes!” at my computer screen as I read through this article by John Linden of TheMostChic.com. The solutions he came up with to manage his own home are so in line with what we advocate at Less is More that I just had to reach out to see if we could repost his blog here. He said yes (obviously). I hope you find his ideas as relatable as I did.
-Sarah Giller Nelson, Less is More Organizing Services
If making your life significantly less stressful, happier, and more beautiful only took five minutes per day, would you do it?
If you are like most, you wouldn’t think twice. Well, I’m here to tell you how. Finding 5 minutes per day to work on your home’s organization has been shown by science as a way to lower stress levels and increase happiness. You must be wondering, “If it’s so simple, why don’t more people do it?” In our busy lives finding even 5 minutes of focused work can be tough. Below, I’m going to show you 4 tactics that I’ve used to solve this problem.
Rethink Your Mindset & Stop Playing Catch Up
For many years, staying organized and keeping my home tidy was a pipe dream. Though I tried, I often found that I had too much stuff and too little time. 1 year ago I moved into a new house. With that move, I decided to really focus on keeping a plan and working to organize my space. After testing over 50 strategies and sharing my insights with a few friends, I saw how much others were interested and decided to write an article detailing my findings. Here are the 4 best practices I've discovered for keeping my house organized -- without spending more time or effort:
1. Clean Your Bedroom First
For years, I always used my bedroom as a dumping ground for clean, to-be-folded laundry. Sometimes I would go days without folding and putting it away.
As Dr. Rian Rowles points out, “When you live in a messy home, you are subconsciously reminded of the work that needs to be finished, your eyes do not have a place to rest.”
Dr. Rowles continues, “Too much clutter can cause tremendous stress and fatigue,” he explains, “When things take longer to find or can’t be found, stress levels rise, and so does your risk for illness.”
In places where relaxation is key, focus your attention on eliminating things that will remind you of all that you have to do. Untidiness will create anxiety, which can interfere with your sleep, which perpetuates a cycle of sleeplessness, stress, and anxiety.
The best way to stop that cycle is to focus on areas where stress should be at a minimum.
2. Clean The Air
In my old house, the ventilation system would spread lint from the dryer throughout the house. Dust would accumulate in every room, no matter what.
As Luis Villazon explains in a Q&A for Science Focus, all homes accumulate dust from the dirt, soot, and pollen that we bring into the house on our shoes and clothing. Indeed, dust can have detrimental health effects on the human body over time. Although small amounts aren’t going to kill you, it can cause respiratory problems and eye irritation if you let it build up over time.
The solution? Buy an air purifier. They are easy to find, inexpensive, and cheap to run. This is the fastest way to go from dust problem to no dust at all.
3. Clean Every Day
One issue I always had when thinking about cleaning was figuring out where to start. From power washing the deck to organizing my closet, figuring out the right priority always stopped me in my tracks.
“The brain is wired to be very cautious and conservative in starting big projects,” says Randall O’Reilly, professor of neuroscience and psychology at Colorado University, “Once you do start, it takes over your brain.” O’Reilly explains that the brain is hesitant because your brain might be afraid of deciding whether or not doing something now may lead to regret later. “Your brain recognizes that and says, ‘Maybe I won’t start on that project after all’,” he elaborates.
Like anything, I found that cleaning and organizing becomes less daunting if you chip away at it everyday. The bonus is that if you never feel the pressure to "get everything done". Instead, you will feel like you've accomplished something -- even if it isn’t much.
4. Leave Your Phone in Another Room
Daniel Levitin, neuroscientist and author of The Organized Mind, says, “The brain doesn’t multitask. Rather, the brain shifts rapidly from one thing to the next. That causes us to not be able to focus attention on any one thing, and this dividing of our attention makes us less efficient.”
Your phone is likely the biggest distractor in your life, so leave it in another room when you organize and don’t text or check emails while you’re trying to clean. According to Levitin, these types of activities give your brain a small jolt or neurotransmitters that trick you into thinking you’re being productive.
“Multitasking puts us in a kind of dopamine addiction loop,” he says, “Answering an email or responding to a tweet gives out these little dollops of reward.”
If you are immediately so bored, flip on the tv or radio and let it play in the background. But don’t do anything active -- like email or text.
As someone who always struggled to keep an organized space, these simple tips have completely changed my outlook. If nothing else, remember that doing something -- anything -- is better than nothing.