Mind Over Clutter: Why the Neat Freaks Have Been Right All Along

Photo courtesy of Bluish Orange

I’ve always been the type of person who performs better in an organized setting. I’ve never been able to get much done amidst piles of papers, dirty dishes, or a mixed up mess, no matter what type of tasks I’m working on.  I’ve worked outside of the home, I’ve been a Stay at Home Mom, and now I work from home.  I find that no matter what my job title is, or where my “office” is located – if there’s a mess, there’s no success.

For years, my friends always made mention of how organized I was even though I didn’t really feel like that much of a “neat freak” – I simply thought it was normal to keep things compartmentalized and in order.

As it turns out, the drive to keep clutter at bay is a very important one, because orgnanized people are much more likely to achieve their ultimate goals, according to The DeClutter Coach Deborah Cabral. As I randomly clicked on a link that led me to her site a few days ago, I discovered that perhaps my penchant for being a neatnik is a personality trait that has gotten me a lot further in life than I originally thought.

Look into a disorgnanized environment and you will find people who are stressed out and worn out. They don’t know where to find important things which leads to frustration, missed deadlines, and anxiety. Long periods of clutter induced anxiety can make these people depressed and un-motivated to finish what they start, which is a nasty cycle that ultimately ends with burn out.

Make the mindful choice now to remove unnecessary clutter from your life so that you can approach each day without chaos greeting your before your morning coffee meets your lips. Everyone has their own natural preferences when it comes to organization, but if you’re really overwhelmed, consider the following possible starting points:

  • Start with one room at a time. If that even seems like too much, try emptying one shelf a day, sorting the items, and only putting back things that you need.
  • Set a timer. If you work better with a time limit, set aside an amount of time you feel comfortable with each day, and only organize for that long.
  • Bins. I can’t say enough about how important it is to invest in a multitude of plastic or cloth bins that you can easily label.
  • Think fast. The best de-cluttering happens when you don’t give too much thought to what gets tossed out and what gets donated. Sort quickly and efficiently.
  • Create a safety net. If you’re having trouble getting rid of things because they might be important in the future, consider making a ‘maybe’ bin. But only one.

Once you get into the groove, you’ll realize how cathartic the process of de-cluttering can be, but don’t get too addicted to the feeling.  It’s one thing to get organized, but the key is staying organized. You’ll find that when you let go of all of the unnecessary physical stuff in your life, that your mental clutter will start to dissipate, your productivity level will begin to rise, and your daily goals will once again seem conquerable.


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    • Laurie

      I think the ‘staying organized’ should have been surrounded with flashing neon, bold, colorful italics as it is truly the key to remaining successful and the cause of many depressive bouts. I have observed many co-workers suffer flashes of success followed by frustration and stress as a result of not staying organized and lived through just that myself.

      Blocking out time on the calendar to keep organized is a MUST! All it takes is 15-30 minutes per day to file, address or redress the remains of the ‘to do’ list and return needed emails or calls in order to facilitate a less stressed work or home environment. If you are one of us, whose work and home environments are the same, and your work area is too cluttered to be productive in, the best thing you can do for your success is take the time to organize for a clutter free area and mind.

      Thanks, Adrienne! As usual, I needed this article at this particular time! I have been frustrated and stressed, even though, over the past two weeks, I have taken time to meditate, exercise and eat what my body needs (not the crap that makes my soul and mind happy…). In the midst of the extra time I have devoted to my heath, recovery and getting ready for travel, I have let my work area get cluttered and I need to make the organizational time a priority!

      • Adrienne McGuire

        I’m curious to find out, Laurie, did you manage to get organized before your traveling started? If not, I hope you set aside some time for it when you get back home!