The Zen of Organizing~Creating a Stress-Free Environment

September 12, 2010 | 422 Comments

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Zen refers to ‘a Japanese sect of Buddhism that aims at enlightenment by direct intuition through meditation.’ As it relates to organizing, Zen basically means creating awareness of your situation to change from a cluttered and chaotic environment to a calm and inviting environment thereby bringing balance and peace to your life. Here are a few ideas to get you started toward that end result.

1. The first step in achieving a more relaxed environment is to become more aware of your surroundings. Spend some time and take a good look around every room in your home. Determine what areas are causing you the most stress and evaluate the reasons why. Take notes as you go. Document your feelings about what you see, the changes you need to make, etc. Not only will this process declutte the house, it will also declutter your mind.

2. Create a plan for each room you need to declutter and organize. Visualize how you would like each room to look when completed. Determine which room(s) you would like to organize first and then take the plan step by step. Set aside a certain amount of time each day to declutter — 15 minutes is a good place to start. Tackling an entire room can be overwhelming which could cause you to just put it off indefinitely. Keep in mind the room did not get the way it did in one day, so you cannot expect to get it organized in a day. Remember to take baby steps.

3. One of the ways to create a stress-free environment is to simplify. This means clearing the clutter and eliminating unnecessary items. This is probably the most painstaking part of the process because it involves processing emotional clutter as well. It takes discipline and determination, but the process and end result are well worth the effort. If you find it very difficult to part with an item, ask yourself why you are holding onto it. Also ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen if I get rid of this item. As you go through items, determine what to keep and what not to keep. When it comes to clothing, if you have not worn an item in a year, sell or donate it. Think about your values as well. Realize that it is just material possessions you are dealing with.

4. When beginning the process of organizing a room, start at the doorway and move your way around the room. Sort through piles and try to make quick decisions as you go. Do I need this item or not? Finish a room before moving on to another room. This initial room can then be considered your ‘motivation’ room. You can go back to this room and feel good about your progress as you are working on other areas of your home.

5. Paper is a common clutter problem. If you are not using a filing system, now is a good time to put one into place. Not keeping the paper flow in control will cause it to grow and get unmanageable. When it comes to mail, open and handle it as soon as you receive it. Instead of putting paper in various different places, designate one area to keep all papers that you need to do something with, i.e. bills, etc. Also designate an area to keep papers that need to be filed. Regularly go through the papers to file and determine if you need to keep the papers or toss. In many instances, the information can be found online.

6. You do not have to get rid of everything in order to declutter a room. If you are an avid collector, consider grouping together your collectibles into one arrangement or grouping to create a more appealing visual versus having collectibles all over the house in no particular order.

7. In addition to decluttering, you may need to invest in a few organizational products to help accomplish your goals. This may include shelving, racks, dividers, etc. to organize the belongings you use and plan on keeping once you have gone through the room and finished decluttering.

8. Do not forget to have fun and celebrate your accomplishments along the way. Working toward completely organizing your home and making it more comfortable deserves rewards as goals are achieved. This keeps the momentum going.

9. Maintenance is important to keep a good plan in place. Once you create the environment you desire, you need to keep it that way. That means creating a system to stop clutter from accumulating. This involves regular cleaning and purging, as well as tweaking of the plan. One good rule of thumb is when you bring in a new item, you need to get rid of two other belongings.

A quote from Albert Einstein sums it up: ‘Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity, from discord find harmony, in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.’



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