Order in the House: Does It Make a Difference in Your Daily Life?
Take a deep breath and look around the room in which you are reading this article. What do you see? Neat, clean surfaces and floors or piles of stuff? Is there space to walk safely, or do you need to move things out of the away to create a path? Is there, as someone in my life has described it, ‘organized clutter’?
Over the years, I have heard folks say that they know where everything is and if they organized their home, work area or car, they wouldn’t be able to find anything. While there may be a grain of truth to that, it can also be an excuse not to clean or remove objects that take up unnecessary space. We are an acquisitive species that loves collecting stuff. I laugh when I remember the George Carlin routine about ‘stuff’. (A bit too edgy to place here, but feel free to check it out on Youtube.) The gist of it is that we are addicted to consumerism and that what we own begins to own us after a while and that our homes are storage facilities for everything we have accumulated over the years.
Much of what takes up space in my home has been collected over the years, some I have purchased, many others were gifts from loving friends and family members. I value these items, in part because I treasure the people who gave them to me and the memories they evoke.
When I am in an environment that is messy or cluttered, I feel uneasy. It was a challenge when I worked as a home care social worker. There were times when some patients’ homes were a safety hazard and I was reluctant to sit on the furniture. Piles of newspapers, stacks of note paper, boxes of books, dirty dishes in the sink were common sights. I chalked some of it up to physical debilitation that made it challenging to clean. I also considered that many had a long term hoarding problem that I wasn’t going to rectify.
I used to tell my then teenaged son that the way we treat our environment reflects how we feel about ourselves. He would protest mightily, since he didn’t want to clean his room, because “it will only get messy again.” I reminded him numerous times that it didn’t get messy without his help. Fortunately, as an adult, his environment mirrors the rest of his life. The home that he shares with his wife is far neater than our home was when he lived here, and it isn’t simply because she is doing the cleaning. He has become more disciplined, structured and organized internally and externally.
What prompted this article was a video that described what organized people do in their homes. They range from making your bed every day, to cleaning the kitchen as you go, from taking what you brought into a room with you when you leave, to taking your shoes off at the door. I do all of those things, as well as taking trash out of my car, emptying the dishwasher after it cools off and folding clothes as soon as I can. That and washing dishes are Zen activities for me that bring about a feeling of serenity which is welcome, particularly after a long day of helping my clients find their own peaceful center.
I admit that I have some serious closet cleaning to do, since many clothing items have long since stopped delighting me. That ties in with the KonMari Method™, which encourages that we only hold on to items that spark joy. How many collections of rubber ducks, rubber bands and rubber balls are required for happiness? I have a friend who likely had 100 of the former and over the years had begun giving them away. I was the recipient of two of them. She also had numerous Beanie Babies that have found new homes as well.
Is a cluttered space indicative of a cluttered mind? My home is not ‘white glove’ clean, but there is some semblance of order in what I think of as a creatively eclectic environment. I find that when I feel a sense of structure, in my living and working environment, I am able to think more clearly. As someone with undiagnosed ADHD, I am certain that clutter=distraction=dysfunction. When I leave my office at the end of my work day, I put the charts away, clear off the surface of the desk, make sure that the toys (I have a corner space where young clients can play) are put away and the pillows are straightened on the love seat. I then push the red and white EASY button to close out the day and remind myself that in the midst of the chaos and clutter that may exist in the lives of my clients, I can still find inner harmony.