Organized Adulting: How to Organize Your Space and Life
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If you’re currently reading this blog post on a laptop placed upon a cluttered desk, in a messy room, while just about a million reminder notifications pop up on your phone, I promise you’re not alone. The truth is that adulting is often a time of disorganization and overwhelm for many. Think about it–you are out in the world independently for probably the first time. All the organization tasks that were once done for you, or at least mapped out for you, are left up to you now. It doesn’t help that organization skills for your adult life aren’t taught as a class in school–you just have to figure it out as an adult.
You may have gotten used to a disorganized way of living. Perhaps your space is messy, but you know where to find all your essentials within the clutter. And, even though your tasks tend to pile up on you, you eventually get them done. Although you may think that you can handle your disorganization, you may be surprised just how much your space and surroundings affect your mindset and mental health. Keep reading to learn more!
How does organization impact mental health?
Have you ever heard the saying “A clear space makes a clear mind”? Well, it happens to be true! Research has shown that people who lived in cluttered spaces were more likely to report feelings of fatigue and depression than those who lived in organized spaces. The same study also found that disorganized people had higher levels of cortisol, a hormone that contributes to stress and anxiety.
The increase in negative emotions in response to clutter and disorganization can have many causes. First, a person’s visual cortex in their brain can become overwhelmed and find it hard to focus when there are too many items in front of them that are not related to the specific task they are working on, as found in a study conducted by Princeton University. For example, if you are trying to finish your work-from-home assignments on a messy desk, your mind may be becoming overwhelmed and overstimulated by everything on your desk other than your laptop. Likewise, adulting can be a time of high stress. When there is already a lot on your plate regarding daily responsibilities, coming home to a messy space can cause irritability and frustration. It also adds yet another task to your “to-do” list, as eventually, you will have to crack down and tidy your space.
Adulting Organization Guide
If you’re convinced that your disorganized environment is contributing negatively to your mental well-being and wish to change your ways, you’ve come to the right place! Below is a guide to organizing some of the (typically) most messy areas of an early adult’s life.
Whether you work from home or in the office, your desk should be a place where you can be certain you’ll stay focused and get your tasks done. There’s no harm in having a few desk “knick-knacks” or a framed photo on your desk as decor, but it becomes ineffective when you can’t even see the surface of your desk because of excess clutter.
To organize your desk, first, take everything off of its surface and out of its drawers. Wipe down and disinfect your desk’s surface, as well as your computer screen, keyboard, and mouse. Next, go through all the contents of the desk and its drawers, keeping a garbage bag nearby to throw any trash into. Once you have thrown out all the unnecessary contents or put them back into their rightful space in your home, organize the rest of the contents, trying to place the majority of them where they fit in drawers. Try these desk drawer organizer containers to more efficiently fit everything!
Now, place only your essentials on the top of your desk. This will most likely consist of your computer or laptop, agenda, picture frame, desk lamp, pencil cup, etc. I recommend that you consider using a computer monitor/laptop stand with built-in drawers for more organization space, as well as a cable organizer to ensure your electronics can charge in a non-messy way!
Your bag should be a place for only your on-the-go essentials. So, if you’ve been carrying around items that you haven’t used in the past 6-months, it’s time for a cleanout. Dump everything out of your bag and toss any trash away. You’ll probably be amazed by how many gum wrappers and old receipts you find at the bottom of the bag! Now, go through each item and put away anything you don’t use often in its rightful place in your home.
A few ideas for bag essentials are:
- Laptop in a laptop case (if you are taking your bag with you to work)
- Electronic portable chargers
- Hand sanitizer
- Travel stain remover pen
- Hair tie
- Pepper spray/self-defense tools
Nowadays, most of us complete our work on laptops and computers. For this reason, your files, desktop, and downloads must be organized so that you don’t lose important documents or run out of space on your computer. First, take a look at your desktop and move any old documents you don’t need anymore or any applications you never use into the trash. Out of the remaining documents/applications, create a few corresponding folders (photos, important documents, etc.) and move the documents into the folders. Repeat these steps for the files that aren’t on your desktop, but simply in your documents section. Finally, go through your favorited bookmarks on your preferred browser and make sure they are updated to only what you use regularly. Consider investing in a hard drive or USB drive to store extra files and photos you don’t need day-to-day on your computer.
Much like your computer, phones can get super disorganized very quickly. To organize your phone, first, go through all your apps and delete (or at least offload) the apps you haven’t used in the past 6 months. Remember, you can always redownload if you need them again in the future, but right now they are just taking up space and data! Now, go into individual apps and delete unnecessary data. This means deleting all those old grocery lists and text message drafts that have been living in your notes app.
Your photos app is likely taking up a lot of data, so also go through your camera roll and delete duplicates, unnecessary screenshots, or long videos. I recommend moving some photos and videos you wish to keep but don’t necessarily need to Google Photos. On Google Photos, you can still access the photos, but clear space off your actual phone.
Another trick to make your phone seem less disorganized and overwhelming is to go through your reminders, especially if you use your reminder app more than a physical planner. If you are constantly being bombarded with messages about your set reminders, you are more likely to miss an important reminder in a sea of unnecessary reminders. So, edit them down to only a few of your most important reminders, and move more casual ones to a “to-do” list or agenda!
Speaking of agendas…these little notebooks are an awesome way to stay organized! Instead of cluttering your reminders app or sticking random post-it notes everywhere, put it all in an agenda that you take everywhere with you! Also, research shows that writing down a task helps you become more motivated and likely to complete it!
It’s no fun cooking in a messy kitchen. The pantry is often the portion of the kitchen where messes pile up. It may seem tedious, but take everything out of your pantry and place your items on the counter. After wiping down and disinfecting your pantry, go through all of the items and throw out any empty boxes or expired items. Now, place your items back into the pantry in an organized way. Consider using a can organizer, container and lid organizer, and k-cup drawers to keep things from becoming messy in the future!
Hopefully, after organizing your space, your mind feels more at ease. However, although organization certainly helps, some mental health issues cannot be fixed by simply organizing your space. You may need to put effort into organizing your mind, as well.
Organizing your mind is different for everyone. It may look like setting boundaries and committing to fewer responsibilities, writing down your thoughts in a guided journal, meditating, or talking to a professional. Therapy can tremendously help organize your mind by getting your thoughts and worries out there for someone to help you sort through. Listen to what your body is telling you and get the help you need!
Want to read more? Here are a few of my related blog posts you may be interested in checking out!