FOCUS ON THE PHYSICAL: Organize Your Home, Restore Your Sanity

A few months ago, I wrote a piece for The Learning Curve entitled The Life-Space Continuum, where I talked about how connected my physical and mental spaces are. In a nutshell, I've come to realize that my physical space, whether neat or messy, often reflects my mental state - and vice versa. When my physical space is cluttered, it's safe to say that my mind is cluttered too. On the flip side, little things like coming home to an unobstructed doorway and neatly made bed does wonders for my mental. Recently I sat back and realized that the rising frustration and anxiety I was feeling at home could be easily resolved by doing one thing - de-cluttering my space. The process is still ongoing, but the effects have been amazing so far - so I had to share!

When I was in school, de-cluttering was so easy. At the change of the seasons, I would naturally purge my closets of the clothes I no longer needed or wanted. At the end of different school semesters, it was second nature to clear out old books and papers to make way for new classes and assignments. However, it now feels like days, weeks, and months all flow into each other, and without any defining time periods, I let my de-cluttering practice fall to the wayside. One day last week I woke up, stepped over bags and boxes to get to my walk-in closet, then tried to fish through randomly tossed shirts and sweaters to find something to wear - and I said, "enough is enough." I started de-cluttering that day, and haven't looked back since.

Clothes: Toss vs. Keep

The first thing I did was attack my clothes. I went through everything in my closet and drawers, and played hardball with what I was going to toss or keep. If I haven't worn it since before the world knew a baby named Blue Ivy, I was pretty sure I could toss it. If it was an article of clothing that I've been waiting to have altered by a seamstress for the past 2 years, I figured it could go. Outdated clothes or excess items (how many oversized t-shirts does one girl need?) were tossed in the To Go pile, and before I knew it, my drawers could close and my closet was tidy.

Organizational Tactics

Once I cleared out about 3 garbage bags of unneeded clothes and shoes (ready to be donated), I focused on organizing what I had left. Dollar stores are GREAT for little organizational tools like hanging shoe and clothing racks (like Ikea's SKUBB organizers)and cute boxes for out of season storage. My biggest coup was finding a way to display my necklaces, as opposed to having them strewn about on a dresser or tangled up in a jewelry box. Using some hanger extenders, I hung them horizontally on the top of my closet door, and hung my necklaces from each peg on the extender. They failed miserably as hanger extenders, but worked incredibly for my necklaces!

Sentimental Value

When I finished with my clothing, I moved on to the boxes of STUFF that I also kept in my closet. I say STUFF, because the boxes were filled with all kinds of random papers, notebooks, flyers, ticket stubs, pictures, and other things that I thought were necessary to keep once upon a time. Part of de-cluttering is letting go of the old and unnecessary. That being said, I had to come to grips with the fact that every item in those boxes couldn't possibly be required to follow me into 2013. While sorting through my stuff, I realized that not everything was as meaningful as I thought, so the process was actually much easier than I assumed at first. I am a very sentimental person, but I know myself enough to understand that I can also easily fall into packrat status - so I really had to be diligent and make sure that I only kept the things that were must-haves.

Looking for more organizational tips? Check out one of my fave tumblr sites - Unf*ck Your Habitat. The gifs alone are worth it!

My bedroom is now gorgeous, neat, and organized - and walking into it at the end of a hectic day is so calming. I don't need to be a Feng Shui master to know that the energies are different in a neat room, and I just feel so much better lounging, sleeping, and waking up in there. I'm taking the de-cluttering practice into every corner of my home now, and I can't wait to start the new year with a lighter load and less junk. I'm a believer that you have to get rid of the old to make room for the new - so that's what I resolve to do, while saving my sanity at the same time.

Are you a chronic packrat, or are you perfectly organized? Does anyone else out there feel that their physical space and mental states mirror one another? What are some other tips you use to create a calm spirit in your home?

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