Clutter has been an age-old problem for everyone. As a child, I still remember how my mother would chide me to clean up my room or put back my toys and organise my stuff the day before school. However, I still vividly see my room being a mess and running around searching for my books in the morning.
So why is it that so many of us have a problem with clutter and being messy when we could just be…organised. I have struggled with it all my life and maybe it is time to understand what makes us prone to being disorganized and messy.
There are three main reasons why people tend to have clutter lying around:
- They are extremely busy and often lack the time to clean up things.
- People tend to be lazy as it is so much easier to leave things where they are rather than put them back in their place.
- The person generally has too many things and thus, do not know where they can put it back
I fell in the second category, but also little parts of me lay in the first and last category. I had a serious problem as well, but I taught myself how to stay organized and brought myself to de-clutter and generally get better at keeping my room tidy. Making this transition has really helped my mental health along with increasing my general concentration as it was one less thing distracting me. I shall now go into each of the above-mentioned points and tell you exactly what you can do to try your best to stay on top of your mess while also sharing some personal anecdotes.
First off, I would probably start by saying that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being messy. When I say messy I don’t mean in terms of hygiene (one should always keep their room and house sanitized taking into consideration the current scenario in the world), I mean messy in terms of leaving things everywhere. Research has shown that those who tend to be messy are often individuals who are creative and intelligent. They drew a correlation on how a people who have are creative and have many creative ideas in their mind probably also project that mess on their personal space. I should probably confess that I was guilty of using this research as an excuse for my messy room.
Having said this, I also do not think that was the right thing to do. A much as this research might be true there are also other studies out there that show organized individuals meet their deadlines on time, are more attentive and have better concentration. Those who are creative tend to be messier, but this does not mean that one cannot be organised and creative.
We are all busy people and probably have multiple things going on in our life. This is exactly the reason why it makes it necessary to be organised and reduce the clutter around us.
My suggestion for someone who is busy is taking just one day out in their life to just clean and organise your things. Create an organisation system that is convenient and does not take too much of your time. Given below are some of the organisational strategies that I personally use to keep things convenient.
- Using the ‘roll system’ of folding my clothes: I have found that this system of folding has been very easy for me not only to see and chose my clothes on a day to day basis but also putting back laundered clothes.
- Making sure to designate spaces in each area of the house: I make sure to designate an area where I get ready, where I study and where I relax. Designating these areas allows you to know what commodities go where while also organising the things you have in that area. For example, the area where I get ready, I make sure to put the creams or products I use often in a convenient position while putting the rest in compartments and containers. The same can be done in the study area where the books/ notebooks you use often can be kept in more accessible places while other books are shelved.
Like I said before this is the main category that I generally fall in. It is so much easier to dump things on the bed or the chair rather than making the effort of finding the right place for it. I understand the sentiment, however, something that I have learnt is that the clean up after days of dumping is a lot more annoying than putting it back in its right place.
- What I would initially suggest is following the same organisation structure as in the previous point. After having a system in place there is an initial need to keep it in that order and that is what is important as it kept me motivated.
- Another thing that I would suggest is making sure to set a time in the evening, even making it a night-time routine, to making the room clean. I made a promise to myself that I would never go to bed with a messy room. I usually listen to a podcast or have a video playing while I do this, and I challenge myself to finish it within that time. Making a fun game out of it and that kept me motivated.
There is nothing more one can do that maintain the discipline. For the initial time I did find myself still making a mess but every Sunday I cleaned up that mess and as the days went by I found myself trying to make sure to make the initial effort of putting things back as I dreaded the Sunday mess.
Too much stuff
Believe it or not, I used to be a hoarder and I often found myself holding onto things either because I was sentimental or because I “thought” I would use it someday. However, this was a big mistake because all they did was take up space and increase clutter. I recently shifted to minimalism and I have found myself happier as a minimalist. Although I still have the abundance of stuff I did before I reduced and even stopped buying things that I knew I could do without.
When I was getting rid of stuff, I followed the Mary Kondo method. For some, I know it may not work as “sparks joy” does not really come with a manual of what it feels like. So, for the things I was not sure about I asked myself- “have I used it in six months”. If the answer was no I either donated it or discarded it. I found this to really help clear up space for important things and reduce clutter while making organisation easier. I would not lie, getting rid of some of the stuff did leave pang but I told myself that they were going to a better place.
The pandemic has really affected my academic year. As a student, the organisation system that I have created for myself has really helped me concentrate on my assignments rather than the mess that is there on the bed behind me. Especially with the pandemic and having all my classes in my room, on my laptop, it has made it even more important to be clean so I can concentrate.
Trying to be organised is a constant process. There will be days that are stressful, difficult, or generally feel like you cannot focus on the mess. That is okay. Messes can always be cleaned up. On days that I am stressed, I still find myself being messier, but I have disciplined myself enough to clean up at the end of the day or at least the end of the week. Sometimes it was the cleaning that helped with clearing my mind and reducing the stress. Apps like headspace also helped my de-cluttering journey with some of their courses like mindful cleaning. The aim of de-cluttering is not to be perfectly clean at all time, it is building the discipline and habit of wanting to be organised.
“Organizing is a journey, not a destination.”