When you get organized magic can happen!
How becoming more organized can improve your life
I teach my students that internal chaos is reflected back to us by external chaos. When we look outward at our space, we have mirrored back to us an amplification of something that is disharmonious within. Tradition teaches that when we work on ourselves, the world changes before our eyes. In creating this material, I asked myself if the reverse could be true – could something as simple as changing our environment stimulate internal change?
Does your life change when you get organized?
In 1971, Stanford University Professor, Phillip Zimbardo asked a similar question. He hypothesized that taking on roles would indeed change our behavior, and that to reinforce the role, the individual would require the conducive environment. In a famous experiment, he created a mock prison in the basement of the university. Some students took on roles of prisoners and the others were guards. The study, originally intended to be two weeks, was abruptly halted after six days as it began to spiral out of control.
The students who took on the roles of prisoners became depressed, started revolting and acting completely out of character. The students who portrayed guards began to use force to control the mock prisoners, and within the first forty-eight hours, the experiment went much farther than Professor Zimbardo had expected. Although this work was intended to exemplify how roles could change us, I would further hypothesize that it illustrates how our environment can also change us.
To a much lesser extent, you can do your own experiment. Walk around your home slowly, and observe how you feel as you go into each room. Take as much time as possible; open drawers, look in your garage, car, closets, or anywhere you have storage. How do you feel? Do you feel your emotions shift from room to room? Ultimately, our environment influences our emotions, and if that influence is negative, how should we expect to feel motivated to accomplish anything?
Concentrate on the feelings you have when you walk into an especially dirty and messy room in your home. Usually, feelings of frustration, sadness, or overwhelm might be expected.
Researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute published the results of a study they conducted in the January issue of The Journal of Neuroscience that relates directly to uncluttered and organized living.
They found that when your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus. The clutter also limits your brain’s ability to process information. Clutter makes you distracted and unable to process information as well as you do in an uncluttered, organized, and serene environment.
The clutter competes for your attention making it difficult to properly focus. Just image a child attempting to get your attention while you are completing a task. “Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy!” While you might be able to focus somewhat, the reality is that the distraction vies for your attention, making the task much more challenging.
When our minds are cluttered, we are less able to focus, and easily frustrated. An Office Max survey found that 77% of people say that clutter negatively impacts their productivity; 65% say that clutter affects their state of mind; 53% say it reduces motivation; and 40% say it leaves them feeling unhappy.
So if clutter and disorganization are so damning to mindset, productivity, and overall well-being, then why aren’t more people doing something about it? Why aren’t more people seeking to get organized? I encourage you to get started today in simplifying your life. Making your home and/or your office more organized will lessen the stress, increase productivity, and just be happier.
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Although you will start with the room that has the greatest association to your goal, I would encourage you to follow this with purging, clearing and organizing in any room that is a catalyst for negative emotion. As one of my mentors once told me, ‘Your outer world is a reflection of your inner world.’ One of the fastest ways to change yourself internally is to change your world externally.
Once you have dug in and begun the work of getting organized, it can sometimes become intimidating, especially if your space is very disorganized or cluttered. For extreme cases, section a room into quarters and tackle them one at a time; this will help to minimize overwhelm.
Whatever your situation, begin by taking action. You will begin to feel lighter immediately. Stick to it and be consistent in your process of creating a life of greater organization and much less stress.
Susan Sly is a best selling author, work life balance expert, speaker and entrepreneur. She has appeared on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime Television and the CBN. Susan is the mother of five children and resides in Scottsdale, Arizona.