Did you know that the pile of dirty laundry in the corner, the stack of unpaid bills on your desk, and the disarray of magazines on the coffee table can cause anxiety and stress – even if you think you are okay with the mess? Disorganization is like a monkey on your back that reminds you that you have a problem every time you walk in your house. But the good news is, getting organized is easy and, most important, a simple way to reduce your stress and improve the quality of your life!
Disorganization creates stress
You know how frantic you feel when you are running late to an appointment or going to pick up your kids, and your keys are nowhere to be seen. Think about how many times you’ve gotten a second notice on your utility bill because the original bill was buried in the mess on your desk and you forgot to pay it. And where is that appointment card for your annual visit to the ob/gyn?
Living amid clutter creates unnecessary chaos that keeps you from truly enjoying your life. “Disorganization creates stress because it reflects that there are commitments in your life that you simply can’t handle,” says Lorie Marrero, CPO, professional organizer and creator of ClutterDiet.com, a membership-based website providing easy and affordable plans to organize your home.
According to Marrero, clutter causes stress because it overloads the brain, creates conflict and drains your energy.
Clutter causes brain overload
When you are carrying around all the things you need to remember, like appointments, where you last left your keys, items on your grocery list, and work deadlines, among other things, your short-term memory is maxed out, which raises your stress and anxiety levels.
You have no mental reserve to think about more pleasurable things, like the romantic dinner you want to cook on date night, your daughter getting straight A’s, or the many other things that make you happy.
Disorganization creates conflict
If you live alone, every time you walk in your front door, you likely have an inner battle with yourself about finding time to tidy up your mess.
The likelihood of conflict is even greater if you share your living space, whether it be with roommates or family members. “Family and couples fight about disorganization a lot,” says Marrero. “Especially when someone can’t find something where they know they left it.”
Chronic disarray drains energy
“Disorganization steals time and energy because clutter represents delayed decisions and actions — it is a visual form of procrastination,” explains Marrero.
Procrastination can sap your energy because you know you need to get certain things done, and the time you waste thinking about it steals away time you could be doing those things as well as other activities that are more enjoyable.
Go on a Clutter Diet
Marrero’s website ClutterDiet.com came to fruition when she realized that she couldn’t help all the people she wanted to help. Growing up with parents who were school teachers, she understands that hiring a professional organizer is seen as a luxury and not a budget-friendly item.
“I have a big heart for people and created the Clutter Diet program to reach people who can’t afford to hire a professional. I’m thrilled to be able to help people worldwide,” says Marrero.
She is especially excited about the program because of the economy tightening up every family’s budget. “People can join the website and get organized for the price of a pizza — only $15 a month.”
What makes the Clutter Diet program effective? “We looked at the factors that have made the weight loss industry successful and applied them to getting organized,” explains Marrero. Education, motivation and support are invaluable in helping people get organized and stay organized.
A membership at ClutterDiet.com gives you access to a knowledge base, tutorials and helpful handouts as well as weekly menus and membership boards that will keep you motivated. In addition, you also get support from a team of organizing professionals that can give you answers to specific questions.
You get guidance and you’re accountable to your weekly menu — you even weigh in at the end of the week to see how many clutter pounds you’ve lost. The program is much like starting a weight loss diet and workout plan. And you know how amazing you feel when you’ve “lost a few.”
Three easy steps to start getting organized
Since going on a clutter diet is much like starting any other diet, you may be thinking “I’ll start on Monday.” Marrero says you can start today with these three easy steps.
1. Make decisions faster
How often do you have something in your hand that needs to be put away and you say “I’m going to put it here for now” because you don’t know where you want it to go?
Instead of setting the item down, Marrero recommends, “Catch yourself and put it away where it needs to go.” If you don’t, it is going to add to the collection of other things that are contributing to your clutter.
2. Use a capturing tool
A capturing tool is a pad of paper or voice record that “captures” your thoughts when you have them so you can keep track of important items without overloading your brain.
“If you want to write things down, make sure you have one tablet that you carry with you just for that purpose. Don’t write things down on random scraps of loose paper — they get lost,” advises Marrero.
Another handy tool to capture your thoughts is Jott.com, a website that allows you to send hands-free emails and text messages from your phone by using your voice. You are able to capture your thoughts, create to-do lists and set reminders by simply dialing a number on your phone.
“Moms are on the road a lot and always carry their cell phones. Jott.com allows them to say a message into their phone and have it delivered to their email,” says Marrero.
Jott.com offers free — but ad-supported — plans or you can upgrade to ad-free plans starting at $3.95 per month. ReQall.com is another website offering convenient capturing tools for a free membership.
3. Use a labelmaker
Though you may think labeling things is “anal,” labeling is an effective means of communication. “Labeling gives items an official place in the home,” says Marrero. “When you are sharing a space, it’s important for everyone to know where things belong.” Even better, labels not only teach your kids to pick up after themselves, they can help with their reading skills, too.
Getting organized will not only reduce your stress, it can improve the quality of your living space, relationships and life, in general.
“People find that once they clear clutter, they have a burst of energy and feel like they can do things they really want to do. They feel better and less stressed and realize that being organized has changed their lives,” concludes Marrero.