7 Tips for Organizing Your Space More Mindfully

Getting your space organized with intention

It’s been just over a year of life in pandemic lockdown and I don’t know about you, but finding the motivation to do anything has been, well, rough. So, what does one do when one is need of motivation? You take advantage of the change in season and get a little help from Netflix.

Recently, out of procrastination, I ended up watching several episodes of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix. When I’m struggling with motivation and inspiration, I find shows/videos on decluttering and home organizing, along with books, magazines, and Pinterest, to be great sources to creative energy. This time around, it was no different. It also helped that spring is almost here and with it comes spring cleaning (a.k.a., ‘the urge to purge’).

Now, I like to think that I’m fairly neat and organized. This is what I like to “think.” In reality, that’s not necessarily the case. One minute, things are organized and before I know it, things are messy again, and I’ve accumulated more stuff. How did that happen? It happens because real life can be messy in a lot of ways, including in the spaces we occupy and use daily.

What I was reminded of while watching Marie Kondo’s show was how important it is that we make time to deal with the ‘stuff’ we have and learn to ‘let go’ of the things that are not serving us. Studies show that clutter negatively impacts well-being including leading to stress, procrastination and general feelings of unhappiness. This clutter effect also has to do with how we relate to our spaces. We are attached to our homes and can view our possessions as extension of ourselves. Which explains why, when you watch shows like Tidying Up, you rarely see people doing happy dances as they toss things in the “donate” pile. It’s really hard to let go.

That being said, over the years, I’ve come to appreciate that in the act of letting go of our stuff, we create space for a deeper sense of freedom, peace of mind, calm and even happiness. 

With the help of Marie’s show, I decided it was a good time to dust the cookie crumbs from my wrinkled t-shirt, get off the sofa and organize my space. Here are seven tips to help you tackle clutter more mindfully and create more space and lightness, not only in your physical environment but ultimately, in the mind and spirit.

7 Tips for Organizing Your Space More Mindfully

Black woman making the bed.

Home Organizing Tip #1: Get Your Mindset Right

It’s great to use social media to get inspiration but, watch out for those sneaky thoughts of envy and comparison. If that becomes your motivation, then check yourself. As Marie Kondo says, “the question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”

Set your intention for what you want to achieve, paying close attention to the thoughts that you’re having and how you’re feeling. Remind yourself of the purpose of this task. Accept that this is where you are right now. Then get ready to feel all the good vibes that come with having a cleaner, more organized space.

Home Organizing Tip #2: Let Go of Perfection When Decluttering

Sure, I wish I were the Tidying-up-sparks-all-kinds-of-joy type but really I’m not even close. Instead, I’m more like the kinda, sorta neat-ish’ type who can live with improperly folded socks and go without colour coordinating my knits! I believe that, like with mindfulness, some self-awareness goes a long way. Recognizing the type of person I am, how much patience and energy I have to give, and how much time I’m prepared to devote to a task, helps to set me up for success in accomplishing that goal. 

This also includes being aware that we all benefit from being more kind to ourselves when things aren’t perfect. This includes when our spaces aren’t perfectly organized, or our organization skills are less than perfection. 

When decluttering and organizing, I encourage you to let go of any self-imposed, stress-inducing expectations. Aim to simplify things by taking the parts you find most helpful from your inspiration images or tips to make your own rules and set your own standards about what works for you.

Home Organizing Tip #3: Start Small to Avoid Overwhelm When Decluttering

While watching the families in the show take their entire homes apart, taking everything out of their closets, cupboards, garages etc., in order to decide what to keep and what to let go of, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of overwhelm. It was a lot. 

Because I’m no stranger to overwhelm and how it can derail you from doing even the simplest of tasks sometimes. But when it comes reorganization and decluttering projects, I don’t think it’s a one-size fits all approach. You can also choose to approach it on a smaller scale. Tackling something smaller and more contained means that you can finish a lot sooner without the risk of feeling overwhelmed and defeated halfway through and still reap the ‘feel good’ benefits that can come from decluttering.

For example, I have a list of spaces I want to organize but will dedicate a weekend to my bathroom cabinet and under the sink (or drawers in the kitchen). Once that’s done then I will check in on how I’m feeling and then decide if I have the energy to tackle the bedroom closet that same day or another weekend and so on. I find that one quick win is enough to energize me to want to get more done over time.

clothing on a clothing rack

Home Organizing Tip #4: Get Real About Your Time & Energy

My niece recently decided to paint her living and dining room areas by herself and to do so in a day. She got it done but not before the excitement wore off quickly and the overwhelm and frustration set in. It took her three days and a second trip to the store to buy more paint! She got discouraged and almost gave up halfway through the job because she underestimated the amount of time, energy and effort it would take.

Before undertaking the project, take a few minutes to examine what you have going on in your life. Get real about your time and willingness to get the job done. Then make a plan that includes realistic goals and timelines for sorting your closet without distraction. This will prevent you from being overwhelmed by the process and increase your chance of getting it done.

Woman's hands neatly folding a pair of socks to place in a row in the sock organization cube box in front of her. To her right is a organized box of women's undergarments in neutral colours

Home Organizing Tip #5: Bring an Attitude of Gratitude

With my first major decluttering a few years ago, I’d read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Although I didn’t fully embrace her KonMari method – I choose not to say “thank you” to each item during the decluttering process – I did adopt  her folding techniques for my t-shirts and socks.

I’ll admit, after watching, Tidying Up, I’ve had to rethink my attitude toward thanking my items. I may still not speak to my clothes, but I’ve come to appreciate the power of gratitude in all aspects of life and for all the stuff we own (yes, even that Spice Girls t-shirt you’ve been hiding in the bottom of your drawer that you think no one knows about).

So, instead of focusing on the guilt and shame that can sometimes come with confronting the piles of clothing in your closet, try focusing on the positive. Take time to reflect on, and be thankful for, the abundance that you have before letting go. 

Closet Organizing Tip #6: Bring the Beats and Get Hype 

Decluttering and organizing even a small space can be unpleasant for some. One thing I love to do is bring music in to be my ‘Hype Man’, you know, the guy on stage with the mic whose only purpose is to get the crowd hyped up. “When I say spark, you say joy! Spark! Joy! Spark! Joy!”  The right music is a powerful tool to set the mood, boost your energy level, and improve your flow. We workout to music so why not organize your closet to some beats? 

Go ahead and bump your favourite tunes, you know, the songs you think you know all the lyrics to, but you really don’t but sing them anyway. Get hype while you get organized.

Home Organizing Tip #7: Make A Conscious Effort to Acquire Less

I’ll admit that making a conscious effort to acquire less is challenging for me. Like many people, I grew up believing that we always needed more stuff, that every space needed to be occupied with furniture and that I needed new clothes each season. As I get older, I’m finding there is so much value in slowing down and freeing up space by consuming less. This definitely has helped to improve my overall wellbeing. 

Adopting a ‘less is more’ mindset can take some time and willingness to make it happen but can with a host of benefits including, spending less and learning how to only bring into your home the items that you truly love.

Congratulations! Now, Treat Yourself for a Job Well Done

Once you’ve finished, step back, look at your work with joy and gratitude for all that you have. Congratulate yourself on a job well done. Then treat yourself to some Netflix and a glass of wine. 

This post first appeared on the Swell Made Co. Blog.

About cassandra mcd.

World's coolest aunt (so I've been told). I'm all about personal growth and living a healthy lifestyle that prioritizes self-care and mental wellness. I want to embrace aging with swagger (and less gray hair), living life more mindfully and filled with an abundance of gratitude.
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