6 Things You Can Organize to Feel More In Control of Your Space and Your Life
I’m an introvert and I love to clean and organize. So I met my family’s sudden increase in time at home with anticipation of all the home organizing projects we might finally be able to get to. It’s a little ambitious, given that my roles have also increased. (I’ve traded my role of taxi driver for educator, for one.) But our kids’ current home education includes a great deal of life skills right now, and I’m not unhappy about it.
One of these life skills is practicing cleaning chores and organizing tasks with me. When I’m in a silver linings mood, I love that we have the extra time together to do this. But there’s another, less physical, benefit from and reason to take on organizing tasks during this uncertain, surreal, and tumultuous time: The sense of calm that comes from controlling something that we can.
I love this quote from Kathleen Vohs, a marketing professor at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, that speaks to the uplifting sense that both the elimination of clutter and the bringing in of order can create:
Clutter is very stressful on people’s psychology, and there have been a number of studies that have looked at what clutter does to people’s minds, and from that we can take the perspective that things that are tightly organized are going to have the opposite effect.
If people are perhaps stressed out or somewhat exhausted from their normal everyday lives, looking at a hyper-tidy environment, a hyper-organized environment could give that sense of calm or release because it sort of suggests that all you have to do is follow the rules, and everything will be okay.
If there’s ever a time to reduce stress and engage in tasks that give a sense of “calm or release,” it’s now. Here are some small organization tasks that don’t require any extra products and that will make you feel better, both while you’re doing them and when they’re done:
Organize Your Spices
Take out all your spices. Go through them, remembering that the shelf life of most spices is about four years, max. Once you’ve tossed the ten-year-old container of dried mustard and the garlic salt that’s turned into a brick, group your spices by container shape or spice “type” (in my mind, this equates to putting baking-related spices together, herbs with each other, and all others grouped). Place everything back in your spice storage area.
Organize Your Pantry
Organizing your pantry is not only eminently satisfying, it’s practical and timely. You’ll know what you have, what you need, what you certainly don’t need to replenish (ahem, six boxes of gelatin), and what you can use to make inspired dishes. Being intimately familiar with exactly what we have to work with pantry-wise is particularly useful as we minimize trips to the grocery store and make use of the food we already have at home. There will never be a time better suited to pantry organization.
Clear Out Your Refrigerator
For the same reasons as outlined above, a fridge clean-out and organization overhaul will serve us well for weeks ahead. Having to throw out the soggy produce we forgot we had or the leftovers relegated to a hidden spot in the back of the fridge is especially painful now. Organization can help ensure this kind of waste is minimized.
Tidy Your Main Closet
Organizing your primary closet is one of those decluttering tasks you probably tend to put off because you feel like we need a giant chunk of uninterrupted time. Well, hello, big chunk of uninterrupted time. Guess why else it’s the perfect time to cull your wardrobe? A built-in audience who will give you their honest opinion on whether something fits or is “you.” Once you bag up what no longer works for you (even if it’s not yet safe to take it to a donation center), you can take your closet organization even further by arranging your clothes by color, type, or height.
Organize Your Craft Supplies
Have you busted out some new/old hobbies you never had time for? (Think how poignant it will be to tell your grandkids that this is the blanket you finished crocheting during the 2020 pandemic.) Now that you’ve finally gotten your hands into your supplies again, It will feel great to see exactly what you have to use by organizing it all. Making your supplies appealing—rather than a jumbled mess in a bin or behind closed spare closet doors—is a perfect stay-at-home project because you may be using them more now than ever.
Clean Out Your Junk Drawer
With more people ensconced at home than usual, that junk drawer (or “treasure chest”) might be getting more use than ever—and maybe more junky than ever! Make cleaning it out and organizing it a group effort. Dump all the contents on the table, have everyone categorize, purge, and put the things that belong elsewhere away. Then put everything back nice and neatly. Maybe participating in this project will encourage everyone to maintain it.