Organizing for Your Health and Wellbeing, Part I

Budget-Friendly Tips to Get Started from a Professional Organizer.

The popularity of Marie Kondo’s Netflix show Tidying up With Marie Kondo and the KonMarie method shows that many of us either secretly or very openly want our lives to be well… more tidy. While Marie Kondo’s system may or may not work for you, there is an organizational system out there for each of us and finding it sooner rather than later could actually do wonders for our overall health and wellbeing. That’s why I went to professional organizer Jenna Fischer with The Arranged Abode. In this first of a two-part series, she explains why getting and staying organized is good for our health and shares some budget-friendly tips to help get us started.

Photos Courtesy of The Arranged Abode

Why Getting Organized Is Good For Our Health

Jenna is a firm believer that our messes – both big and small, can affect everything. “If you live in this constant state of both visual chaos as well as not knowing where things are and being really anxious about your environment, it’s going to affect your total health and wellbeing.” She operates under the idea that our home should truly be our sanctuary and a place where we can relax. “When it’s not a good resting place,” she says, “If it’s something that brings you angst and anxiety, you can’t rest properly, which is never going to be good for anyone and especially not our health.”

Jenna Fischer

You know the feeling, you’re lying in bed and suddenly wake up remembering that a bill has to be paid that day or a receipt has to be turned in for work or you won’t get reimbursed, and you have no idea where they are. Or you know you have tons of birthday gift bags and tissue paper somewhere but getting to them in the closet or attic would take forever, so you end up having to take extra time and spend the extra money to buy more just because it’s easier. That’s not only stressful in and of itself, it’s also taking a toll on your pocketbook, which makes it even more stressful.

And what does all of that stress do? Integrative medicine expert, board certified functional medicine provider and best-selling author Dr. Keesha Ewers says it causes our bodies to produce cortisol and other stress hormones, which would be perfectly appropriate if we’re being chased by a lion and the danger only lasts a few seconds or minutes. That our body can handle. What it can’t handle is living in a constant state of stress, and our hormones are left to run haywire. Our mess is like having a lion on our tail, we just have to tame it.

Photos courtesy of The Arranged Abode

Where to Start

One of the biggest sticking points for many people is figuring out exactly where and how to start. Here are some tips from Jenna that can help to move us out of the stuck position.

  • Get in the right mindset. Think about things in terms of whether you love them and/or whether you use them – currently. If the answer isn’t yes to at least one of those questions, it should go. If it’s served you well in the past, that’s great, but if you’re no longer using it, then you need to think about whether it truly still has any meaning for you or if you’re just keeping it around because you think you’re supposed to. Which brings us to guilt. Jenna says one of the biggest things her clients struggle with is guilt associated with their items. Guilt because they spent money on it, or because it was a gift and they feel bad about getting rid of it, or if it’s children’s artwork. She says that it’s okay to say that you found value in something five or 10 years ago, but times have changed, seasons have changed, your favorite color may have changed or your size may have changed. Whatever the reason, if you no longer use something or have never used it, it’s okay to get rid of it. For children’s artwork, find a creative way to keep some of your favorite pieces and then don’t feel bad about letting the rest go. It served its purpose when your child proudly gave it to you and you couldn’t have loved it more if Picasso had given it to you. But if it’s just sitting in a pile collecting dust, then you can ask yourself what purpose is it serving now?
  • Set aside time. She says that you don’t have to devote money if you don’t want to or can’t, but you do have to devote time to getting organized. Think in terms of two-, three- or four-hour sessions. Decluttering and/or organizing is both physically and mentally exhausting, so don’t plan on getting it done all at one time if it’s a bigger project.
  • Decide on a budget and if there’s a look you’re going for. Jenna acknowledges that you can go crazy with Instagram and Pinterest projects, and that’s perfectly fine. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If it doesn’t truly matter to you if all your bins look the same, go for whatever is the most affordable and functional in your space. Jenna says you “Can get organized on a Dollar Store budget or on an Ethan Allen budget.” She’s even cut down cereal boxes for people before and used Amazon boxes or gift boxes. The bottom line on organizing is good for your bottom line – there are probably plenty of options already around your house that may be part of your need for decluttering in the first place, so be sure and shop your home first. Possible storage containers may just be hiding inside that pile you’re trying to get rid of.
  • Measure your spaces. It’s easy to get something that’s pretty or cool, but if it doesn’t work in the space where you need it, it won’t serve a purpose. Also, don’t forget to use vertical spaces. If a shelf is one level, get a stool and think about second tiers.
  • Start with the most impactful. If you have your sights set on one particular area that is giving you more grief than another, then you know where to start. If not, Jenna believes kitchens or master bedrooms are a great place to start because they’re so impactful for everyday living. She says that kitchens are the focus of so much of your day – especially if you have children – that having that space in order and making sure that you’re efficiently using it is very important. Master bedrooms are also impactful because as Jenna said, this is where we should be able to go to rest and relax.

Those steps should be enough to get you started with at least thinking in the right direction about your next organizing project. Be sure and check out Organizing for Our Health and Wellbeing, Part II where Jenna will walk us through the process of making our organizing dream a reality.

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