Shelf help: A self-help guide to getting organized

Girl cleans and organizes her desk. Stock Image.

In such a chaotic world, it can be difficult for students and adults to stay organized, especially when dealing with stress. Here are some helpful tips to getting organized:

1. Understanding why

The first step to getting organized and reducing your stress is understanding how and why the mess is affecting you physically and mentally.

Disorganization and clutter will only add to the amount of stress in your life. According to Psychology Today, “Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli.”

Along with distracting us from our original focuses, disorganization can cause feelings of sadness and guilt that pile on the amount of anxiety. It can affect the chemicals in your brain that contribute to stress and irritation such as epinephrine and serotonin.

Lawyers with Depression website states, “The stress chemicals from disorganization eat up the good chemicals needed for mood stabilization. With that process in effect, you feel depressed and overwhelmed.

2. Shopping, support, and the clean community

While getting organized, you will have to be open-minded to the idea that you may not be able to keep everything. When you go shopping, make a list of the things you need, and if it is not on the list, don’t buy it. In this case, less is more.

Many will turn to different websites, facebook groups, and other social media outlets to figure out different cleaning hacks, as well as which products to use.

When it comes to getting organized, there are stores specifically for this sort of thing. For instance, places like Ikea and The Container Store are great places to buy any sort of storage container or organizer you’re looking for in a specific shape or size. Other places — such as Michaels and T. J. Maxx — may also have options. 

If you’re looking to get into the spirit of getting clean and organized, a surprisingly helpful and entertaining thing to do is to surf social media. Pinterest will show you great products and TikTok even has its own hashtag called #cleantok that will bring you to a ton of great accounts and clips with hacks on how to stay clean and organized.

3. Getting started

Start by focusing on one thing at a time. Worry about what you can do right now rather than worrying about everything all at once. Choose a section you would like to start in — it often doesn’t matter where — and work from there.

Once you’ve assessed the space, you can determine the supplies you will need and the time it will take.

Lists and schedules will help. Begin by making a checklist of the things you need to get done, then make a separate list of the supplies you may need. You can schedule your day by designating a specific time and a certain amount of time each day.

Even the mere idea of getting started can be overwhelming, so creating a schedule will help you plan out how long everything may take; even if you just plan to clean up for five minutes each day.

4. Reduce, reduce, reduce!

Minimalism is key.

It is said that the way a space looks is often a reflection of how our mind feels. Getting organized by sorting through or clearing out one thing at a time will ease some of the tension in your brain. 

This process of organization will be similar to taking apart a puzzle and putting it back together again; seeing all of the pieces laid out in front of you and figuring out where they go.

Begin by sorting through everything you have, and putting aside the things you know you don’t need and won’t ever use.

For example, if you just found a scarf in the back of your closet that you haven’t seen for years and you haven’t even thought about in ages, get rid of it. You’re never going to wear it.

Tip for papers: A lot of people struggle with keeping a bunch of receipts, bills, and documents that they don’t need lying around, awaiting the day they will eventually be shredded or tossed. Go digital! You can take pictures of the important things and upload them to your device of choice. You can also choose the option to have your bills delivered straight to your inbox. Doing it on your phone or device will allow you to pay and keep an eye on your accounts.

Decluttering is a tricky habit, especially for someone who might have a condition like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or hoarding. It will take extra will-power, but it is essential to remind yourself what is most important to you and what the bigger picture is.

Ask yourself, ‘How heartbroken will I be if I never see this again?’ If you find yourself saying ‘I haven’t worn/used that in the past year’ or ‘I forgot I even owned that,’ then you could probably live without it.

Once you have everything you need or want to keep laid out in front of you, it is time to put everything back in its place.

4. Make sure it’s clean

Before you start putting things back, make sure the objects/clothing and the space itself is clean. You want to make sure there is no dust, dirt, or little critters living in the place you plan to store your precious things. 

Aside from your things, your health is also an important factor. Leaving dust, mildew and mold lying around will cause illness to you over time.

To clean up, there are an assortment of different cleaning products you can use — wipes, soaps, sponges, sprays, and more. Plenty of websites (Real Homes, Agricultural Digest, HGTV, etc.) will give you advice on what products to use.

5. Putting things away

You should only leave your bare essentials — keys, cellphone, etc. — and things that you use on a daily basis out wear you can easily grab them.

In doing this, there are plenty of different organizers and household objects you can use to place these things. For instance, a jar for your makeup brushes or a key hook for your keys.

As for your non-essential objects and clothing, storage containers and closet racks will be the most helpful to not only being organized, but looking organized.

When it comes to drawer space, there are brilliant ways you can fold your clothes to look tidy and create more space. For specific methods, resort to online websites, social media sites, and Youtube tutorials.

Having separate storage containers will allow you to organize where everything will be and where you can find them so you aren’t rummaging around through everything, creating an even bigger mess.

Putting things away might take time, but it will be worth it in the end.

6. Celebrate a job well-done

The hard part is over, and now you won’t have to worry about it again for a long time. Be sure to pat yourself on the back, because you did that.