It can feel so good to get something organized. Whether it is a whole room or just a drawer, most people love the feeling of looking inside a drawer where there is order and purpose and not too much stuff. Why then is it so hard to maintain an organized space? Why doesn’t the feeling of joy motivate us to do what it takes to keep it organized? It all comes down to these three reasons:
1. Things change. Our kids get older and the toys that were organized are no longer used and there are different toys to get organized. We go to the grocery store and the things we bring home are not the same shape and size as the things we had previously organized in the pantry. Our time commitments change, and on any given day we are too busy to do more than toss something into a once-organized drawer. Solution: Change your thinking. When things in life change and you have different items to organize in the same old space, embrace the positive aspects of the change. There are good things ahead, so tweak the system you had before. If you had a good system it should be fairly easy to modify it to meet your current needs.
2. We crave completion. We want that sense that we put in the time and effort for a good cause and it is now done…finished…Phew! And now we can move on to the next challenge. If we have to keep going back to maintain a place we already organized it feels like it wasn’t worth the effort. Why bother if it is just going to get disorganized again? Solution: We all know that life is a journey, not a destination. So is organizing. Enjoy the time maintaining with some music or quiet reflection. Be aware that keeping a space organized really takes a lot less time than it did to get it organized.
3. We love novelty. Organizing a closet the first time is fun. We start with the creative planning part, deciding what stays and what goes, figure out what goes where, and dream about how great it will be to have a closet worthy of a magazine photo. We get rid of clothes we haven’t worn in a long time, hang items by season and color, line up our shoes, and maybe even get to shop for an organizing product to make the closet work better. We are activating the pleasure center in our brain. Sadly, the novelty fades when it comes to maintaining that closet. Somehow, the maintained closet pales in comparison with the newly organized closet. Solution: Focus on the joy, even if it is not as great as it was before. Engage your brain’s pleasure centers by making up games to play while keeping something organized. Race against the clock, find 5 things that don’t belong, or see if you can figure out a creative way to repurpose something to help you stay organized.
Staying organized can be hard, but there are ways to do it. How do you do it?