Benefits of being organized

Every day at Unclutterer, we share tips, tricks, thoughts, and strategies for a clutter-free lifestyle. As 2014 begins, I want to step back and see the proverbial forest instead of the trees. Just what are the benefits of being organized? It’s potentially a long list, but I’ve narrowed it down to what has affected me the most. Read on for what I consider the benefits of an organized life, at home and at work.

  1. Less stress. Above anything else, this is the number one reason I burn calories to stay on top of things. Here’s a great example: This year, I’m making a concerted effort to keep my office neat and tidy (I work from home and my office is also my bedroom). I added a bulletin board and have designated a home for everything: inbox, keys, wallet, office supplies, charger cables, and more. Now, when I need something, I know exactly where it is. This fact reduces stress and allows me to …
  2. Relax more. I once saw a bumper sticker that read, “Organized people are just too lazy to search for stuff.” That’s cute, but I’d rather be the “lazy” one mentioned in the punchline. Less time spent running around means more time. Just, more time to do what I want to do, like …
  3. Spend time with my family. Getting clean and clear professionally and personally means I’ve got more time to spend with the kids and my wife. For example, my workday ends at 2:00, just as I drive to the school bus. I know that I’ll be spending the next six hours with my family. That’s easy to do when I took care of all my work stuff before then.
  4. I’m ready for a curveball. I’m sure you know how this goes: life throws a kink into the works that interrupts your plans in a major way. Being prepared ahead of time lessens the impact. For example, I have a designated “emergency” office and ultra-portable setup ready. That way, if my Internet connection goes down at home, or a construction crew sets up outside my window, I already know where I’m going to go to work and what I need to bring.
  5. The overwhelming seems manageable. I never would have believed this if I hadn’t experienced it myself. I don’t care if you’re talking about work, the kids, or home management, but it’s a great feeling to have every project defined, and every action step that stands between you and “done” clearly identified. When I do this, I can look at a daunting to-do list and feel like I’m on top of it and capable of doing what needs to be done.
  6. Improved health. The stress I mentioned earlier, which I feel when things start to get out of control, does not promote good health. There are numerous studies that demonstrate a link between sustained high levels of stress and a variety of health problems.
  7. I’m a better example for my kids. There was a time when I spent most of my time behind my computer, working on this or that. I felt productive, sure, but I also worried about the message I was sending to the kids. Adults work all the time? My job is more important than them? I want my kids to become productive, contributing adults, of course, but I want them to enjoy life, too, and that absolutely includes time spent not working.
  8. Fewer little jobs. There are four people in my house. If we miss a day or two of laundry, we’re behind. That means that, some day this week, someone has to spend an inordinate amount of time digging out from Mt. Clothing in the basement. However, just turning over a single load per day makes all the difference. Little things like making sure the kids put their hats and boots away each day after school improves our family’s ability to easily function.
  9. Greater productivity. When you know where things are, what your goals are, and take care of the piddley busy work as it appears, you’ve got significantly more time and energy for the big goals in life.

An organized life takes some doing, and you’re going to slip up. No one is clean and clear all day, every day! But when you strive to do the best you can, you’ll experience the benefits listed above … and more. Here’s to an organized and rewarding 2014, unclutterers! May you experience the best of an organized life.

12 Comments for “Benefits of being organized”

  1. posted by Egirlrocks on

    Great post, Dave! Thanks for confirming that I’m on track for 2014.

  2. posted by Felix Erude on

    I went several years wondering why I felt so empty, so dissatisfied, despite working my butt off and trying to be the best husband and dad to my family.

    I finally realized I was doing too much. I was working to hard to fulfill wants instead of needs.

    I learned to get back to basics. Keep what brings value to your life. Discard the rest.

  3. posted by M Qasim on

    Good post David. You have explained the benefits of being organized in very well manner. Being an engineering student I am trying my best to get organized and follow proper timetable but all in vain in my case

  4. posted by Clean Queen on

    David, I love this post. So many people think that they just “have to get organized” without the WHY it’s important to get organized.

    This was brilliant. Thank you!

  5. posted by Paula Johnson on

    Great article! Just tweeted the link to spread the word!

  6. posted by Kalen Bruce on

    The main thing for me, and this is in several of your points, is that it frees up so much of your time! A clutter free life frees up your home and your time.

  7. posted by Jim Bilodeau on

    Einstein: “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

    Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Mark Zuckerberg, and Mark Twain. What is one thing these visionaries have in common? They all had very messy workspaces. And there are hundreds of other examples.

    I read this article and laughed so hard on all the errors and just factual inaccuracies, I really didn’t know where to start, so let’s just start at the beginning number one:

    1. Less Stress? Really? Here is a little experiment for you go up to a messy person’s desk and shuffle some papers around. Take out a drawer and dump the contents on the desk. A messy person will just push everything back in the drawer and get back to work, maybe even find something useful in the process. An “organized person” will lose their MIND. Organized people hate change and organized people are constantly stressed change is going to mess up their neat little lives. Stress surrounds organized people.
    Organized “type A” personalities die of heart attacks first.

    2. Relax more. This relaxed more meme runs through this entire article and as I’ve already shown it is a myth. A messy person does not stress the little things, it is a mess so what? We don’t spend the time cleaning it up so we actually have MORE time to relax and I’m already less stressed than you are. Yes I might get stressed out once a month because I’m late or I’ve lost my keys, but for the rest of the month I cool as a cucumber, because I’m not running around stressing being organized. Being organized is a constant battle against entropy, messy just goes with the flow.

    3. Spend time with my family. Nope same thing see point 2. I did not stress the little stuff and was just as if not more productive than an organized person. I therefore have more time with my family.

    4. I’m ready for a curveball. No, no, no, you’re not! You are organized! You insulate yourself from disorganization. Curve balls are chaos. You hate chaos! I live in it! You cannot be prepared for chaos it CHAOS that is the point and why so many Type A’s jump from very tall buildings. They assumed they were ready for chaos, but by the way they live their lives, they can’t be. If a real curve ball hits organized people, they crawl into a corner and cry, if chaos hit a messy person we call Tuesday.

    5. The overwhelming seems manageable. Steve Jobs was a very messy person, he was never overwhelmed, why? Messy people find creative ways out of problems. Neat people get overwhelmed more easily because they waste so much time getting organized before tackling a problem. Messy people just solve the problem. You actually waste more preparing to go, than just go.
    6. Improved health. Nope see 1. Now it could be said messy people don’t care about their health as much because they simply don’t stress over little issues, but that’s separate than organization makes you healthier. So nope.

    7. I’m a better example for my kids. I suppose if you want to raise little organized zombies, I prefer messy creative problem solvers and an organized environment is not supportive of creativity or fun. Messy is fun, and that is what I want to role model to my kids.

    8. Fewer little jobs. Completely untrue, here is a little experiment for you with dishes. Get a full sink of dishes, enough to fill a dishwasher. Start a timer, open the door of the dishwasher fill it and close the door. Now, empty the dish washer again so you have the same load of dishes now open the door and add two or three dishes, then close it, then open it again, add two or three dishes, then close it again, repeat until all the dishes are put away. How long did it take you? Which one was faster? If you’re honest, it’s the first one. By leaving chores to a single mass cleaning you can often make those chores more efficient not less. Yes by leaving it until the end it will be longer than putting one or two dishes away, but compared to the collective number of times you did your “little” chores you actually wasted MORE time not less. Organization is just a series of little jobs every day.

    9. Greater productivity. I suppose this is true if you have a mind numbing boring job like assembly line worker where creative thinking is not required and once your organized nothing ever changes, but for the rest of us constantly having to organize all the little things of life is just a massive waste of time.

    Understand organization is NOT a goal; it is a means to your goals. If you already achieve your goals for the most part, and have a successful life, being organized will make no difference. If you are generally happy in a disorganized lifestyle there will be no benefit in being organized, you will go back to what works for you, being messy. Do what works for you but never think empty desk is anything more than someone who probably has too much free time on his or her hands.

  8. posted by tt on

    Good point. Seems organization is good where it matters. If it should absolutely rule your life, you would be called OCD.

  9. posted by Dave on

    “Messy” and “organized” are not the same thing, as you point out. And believe me, I an NOT a “type A” at all. While you might not experience “less stress” in a tidy environment, I do. In turn, I am more productive and happier.

    To each his own! All I can do is convey my experience. I’m sorry it does not mesh with yours.

  10. posted by Geraldine Smith on

    Thanks for the tips on ways to get organized. I found that when everything around me is out of order I can focus on my homework assignments. At work having a clean and organized desk give one the feeling of being more successful at your job.

    I just hate missing work or school due to an illness. This week I’ve been home sick with the flu, just know things were organized here and at work I’ve been able to not get frustrated with the fact of being sick.

  11. posted by [email protected] on

    Absolutely! I especially love this:

    “I’m ready for a curveball. I’m sure you know how this goes: life throws a kink into the works that interrupts your plans in a major way. Being prepared ahead of time lessens the impact.”

    I’m definitely not organized for the sake of being organized – but for the way it makes my life better! I try to organize as much as I can so when bad things happen, as they always do, I can focus on them because the other stuff is under control.

  12. posted by Harry on

    To me, one big benefit is moving work from when I don’t have time for it, to when I do. This is related to being ready for curveballs, but isn’t the same.

    One example: I must be properly dressed when I leave for work. If I choose my clothes the night before, it’s done when I have more free time; if I wait till the morning then time is precious and I have less of it.

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