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  • Writer's pictureKevin Connors

How Staying Organized Reduces Stress

Updated: Apr 30

There has been a lot on the news about mental illness in recent years. COVID-19, political division, inflation, rising homelessness and many other factors have contributed to massive increases in mental illness in the US and most countries worldwide. All of these issues are commonly cause or effects of increased stress in our lives. Staying organized can have a significant impact on reducing stress levels. Here are several ways in which organization can help alleviate stress:


Stresses out adult woman

1. Clearer Mind: When you have an organized environment, such as a tidy workspace or an orderly living space, it can promote a sense of clarity and calmness. A clutter-free environment reduces distractions and allows you to focus better on the task at hand, leading to reduced mental strain and stress. In a study published by Health Psychology Magazine, "participants increased in nonjudgment and decreased in both stress ratings and the proportion of assessments that they reported experiencing feelings of stress in daily life, relative to both MO and NT participants."


2. Enhanced Productivity: In his article How Being Organized at Work Boosts Productivity and Well-Being, Banking VP Zaidoon Barham explores how being organized at work enhances efficiency, reduces stress, and improves outcomes, supported by scientific evidence and practical techniques. One of his conclusions is that organization enables you to prioritize tasks effectively and establish a structured approach to your responsibilities. By creating to-do lists, setting goals, and managing your time efficiently, you can increase your productivity. Accomplishing tasks in a well-organized manner gives you a sense of accomplishment, reducing stress associated with procrastination and feeling overwhelmed, and increases motivation resulting in increased performance.


3. Reduced Decision-Making Burden: When things are disorganized, you often spend more time and energy trying to locate items or figure out what needs to be done. By maintaining an organized system, you minimize decision-making fatigue. Knowing where to find what you need and having a clear plan of action can help streamline your daily routine, freeing up mental energy and reducing stress.


4. Effective Time Management: Being organized allows you to allocate your time more effectively. By planning and scheduling tasks, you can avoid last-minute rushes and the stress of missed deadlines. Effective time management helps create a sense of control over your schedule, enabling you to dedicate appropriate time to work, relaxation, self-care, and other important aspects of your life. The McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning identified Eight Principles for Managing Your Time through organization to increase well-being. The ten principles are below:

-Pursue fun with a vengeance

-Time vs. task focuc

-Block out time

-First Things First-prioritzing the importance of tasks

-Routine

-Flexibility

-Respond vs. react

-Organize your environment


Commitment—if you can’t commit to devoting time to a task, don’t put it in your schedule. Only schedule tasks you WILL do. Be brutally realistic, not idealistic when making your schedule. Creating a schedule you can’t actually keep is setting yourself up for frustration. If you don’t actually stick to your schedule it will soon become useless. This may have happened to you in the past.

5. Lowered Anxiety: Disorganization can contribute to a feeling of chaos and uncertainty. When you have a structured approach to your responsibilities and a system in place, it provides a sense of control and predictability. This can reduce anxiety and the stress associated with feeling overwhelmed by the unknown. “When our living environment becomes unmanageable for a period of time, it can be a symptom of depression or anxiety,” says Michael Carollo, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at Columbia University.


6. Improved Health and Well-being: Chronic stress can have detrimental effects on your physical and mental health. By staying organized, you can reduce stress levels and promote overall well-being. Organization allows for better self-care practices, including regular exercise, healthy eating, and sufficient rest, which are essential for managing stress.


For a more clinical look at the connections between organization and stress, seethe video below:




Remember, everyone has different organizational preferences and methods that work for them. It's important to find systems and strategies that align with your personality, lifestyle, and specific needs. Experiment with various techniques until you discover what helps you stay organized and minimizes stress in your life.

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