I think we can all agree that chaos breeds unhappiness. Whenever you’re feeling disorganized, out of control, buried under clutter, or in total disarray, life just feels heavier.
Now, it may seem like some people have been born with an “organized gene.” They effortlessly manage everything and anything with ease. And, they always have a clean home (of course). But even if you weren’t born with the ability to organize, you can learn this valuable skill. And it may make you much happier in the long run.
Like anything that grows and thrives, all that’s needed is a little bit of patience, commitment, and love (self-love).
Want to learn how to be happier? Let’s take a look at the benefits of being organized and the kind of joy it can bring into your life.
The Advantages of Being Organized
1. It Can Help You To Destress
Coming home from a long day at work to face piles of clutter, or a lengthy to-do-list, seems like the perfect recipe for more stress and anxiety in your life. But did you know that there have been actual scientific studies on this phenomena?
A study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that people who lived in cluttered homes, or environments full of unfinished projects, were more likely to experience fatigue, depression, and higher cortisol levels, compared to those who described their clean home space as restful and restorative.1
Modern medicine is now clear on the fact that prolonged stress keeps cortisol levels elevated and can cause all manner of long-term physical and mental conditions, such as anxiety, depression, high blood sugar, fertility problems, digestive issues, decreased immunity, and an increased risk of a stroke or heart attack.2
It’s essential that you heed this warning and make your new mantra, “I must organize to relieve stress.”
2. It Boosts Your Productivity
Quite simply, organization boosts productivity because there is less distraction – whether that distraction is a cluttered desk, a cluttered inbox, or a cluttered schedule. When you’re organized at work, you’ll be more efficient and likely get done earlier. When you’re organized at home, it means you can focus on getting proactive with your fitness goals, or immerse yourself in healthy cooking.
And, this isn’t just a theory. Research has shown that competing stimuli do actually affect your ability to focus. Looking at too many things at once overloads your visual cortex, which messes with your brain’s processing abilities.3
So, if you’re someone who thinks all that multitasking is saving you time (i.e. you’ll be able to kill five birds with one stone) – it is, in fact, slashing your productivity and efficiency.
3. It May Help You To Snooze Better
One of the things that keeps people awake at night is incessant fretting over everything they have to get done. A chaotic day can also lead to staying up to all hours, just trying to get through everything. Even worse, you may bring your computer into bed while finishing up.
Staying up late with an agitated headspace will not help you to sleep. Organization, however, can help you to destress and keep that anxiety at bay, by keeping bedtime – and your bedroom – a serene place for resting.
A “Destress” Tip for Bedtime: Keep a pen and a piece of paper by your bed. If you have any last minute thoughts or worries about things to be done the next day, just write them down. Then, switch off your light.
Another chaotic habit that might impact your sleep is bedroom clutter. If mess equals stress, and stress equals insomnia, then you can see the problem. You bedroom should be used as a sanctuary for rest and relaxation. Keep it tidy. You should also make your bed every single day – not because your mother said so, but because making your bed in the morning starts your day off productively!
And guess what? It’s even proven to give you a better night’s sleep. A study by the National Sleep Foundation reported that people who make their beds every morning are 19 percent more likely to report a good night’s sleep.4
4. It Can Benefit Your Workouts
Goal-setting, and following through on those goals, is one of the keys to an organized, happy life. Goal-setting teaches you to plan, to implement, and to record any progress – whether it’s a big event, or just your grocery shopping for the week.
Goal-setting can also help to ensure that a regular exercise routine doesn’t go out the window with your crazy schedule. Because it does take more than willpower to keep those workouts on the schedule.
Indeed, researchers believe that it takes several specific things, including:
- Setting a few short-term fitness goals
- Following your progress regularly
- Recording your thoughts and mood after each workout (to help you recall how good you felt, or to help you to tweak your exercise to workouts you prefer).
- Making a list of why you want to be healthier, and reflecting on this when needed.5
5. It Will Help Clean Up Your Eating Habits
You probably know someone – or maybe that someone is you – whose life got turbulent and they started to pack on the pounds. It’s not at all unusual. A chaotic life leads to chaotic eating. You start to snack on sugary foods and drinks, desperate for an extra energy boost. You grab-and-go from unhealthy takeout stores. You prepare pre-packaged, additive-drenched meals for dinner. And you’ve most definitely stopped exercising – because there just isn’t any time.
One of the greatest barriers to healthy habits is “a lack of time.”
But you can claim that time back by getting organized. When you’re organized, you’ll be able to find pockets of time to plan meals, grocery shop, and prep healthy, nutritious choices for the day ahead. Some organized people even do a big cook-up on the weekend to get them through a week’s worth of healthy meals. That’s a pretty smart idea.
Being more organized within your daily schedule can also psychologically affect what you choose to eat. According to a study in Psychological Science, people placed in an orderly room chose healthier snacks, compared to those in a disorderly, messy workspace. So, mindful eating may just start with having a clearer mind.6
Keep your office area neat and organized, and while you’re at it, why not keep some healthy snacks in your drawer, too?
The benefits of being organized far outweigh any perceived notion that you’re not the “organized type.” And, organization need not be something to dread. In fact, you may even learn to love the stress relief it provides. It also becomes way easier when you don’t let things build up to a point of total anarchy.
If you want to know how to destress and be happier in a seemingly crazy world, then start by being the authority, there on the ground, from the start – put your clothes in the hamper, keep workspaces clear of clutter, teach your kids to pick up after themselves, wash up right after you eat, and find a scheduling tool (on your computer, or a written diary) and use it to actively schedule your time.
Oh, and go make your bed!
For more health wisdom from Eastern philosophies, keep reading here:
How Gratitude Makes You Happier (And Why Science Agrees!)
How to Relax Your Mind Like an Urban Monk
What is Feng Shui? (and how to improve your life with it!)