In high school, I got into the habit of cleaning and tidying my room almost every weekend. This isn’t to say that it was necessary, but it just became a habit and even enjoyable pastime. Of course, as I’ve grown older, that doesn’t happen nearly as often because finding the time to take a few hours out of my weekend became more difficult. Let’s face it, life gets overwhelming sometimes and so other, more pressing things take preference. But every now and then, I make it a priority to set time aside to reorganize my space for one reason – to take control of my life. I know that sounds dramatic, but hear me out…
I think I owe this tendency, partly, to Monica from Friends. I’m a huge Friends fan and to this day, it is still my favourite sitcom of all time. I would watch back to back episodes in high school and as a result, certain aspects of the 6 character’s personalities stuck with me, influencing the person I am today. Although it is was a running joke throughout the show, Monica’s mentality of cleaning and tidying, in order to achieve a sense of calm and control, has always resonated with me and is probably the most influential notion that has stuck with me.
Adulting is hard work and finding a balance between work, having a social life and other day-to-day responsibilities doesn’t always leave much time for making sure you spend enough time on yourself. I invest a lot of time in other areas of my life and often neglect my responsibilities to myself. For example, I am a hard worker and I believe that I have a very good work ethic, really pushing myself to be the best I can be. So I don’t mind putting in extra hours at the office. As it is work takes up the majority of my week, but I also have weekly YouTube videos that need to be recorded and edited as well as freelance work that takes up a lot of my free time. As a result, I often find myself putting off certain chores. I like having a neat living space, but sometimes it just isn’t a priority and so a pile of books on my desk, for example, becomes more excusable because (I think) I simply don’t have the time or it isn’t important. But this is actually a big problem.
“Usually we think of self-care only as eating well, getting enough exercise or rest; or service to others as working at a soup kitchen. But maintaining an upright environment, inner and outer, is the way to authentic happiness, which radiates out as genuine public service in myriad forms. The spaces we inhabit can inspire us to feel more whole, sane, relaxed and unencumbered – or the opposite.” – The Practical Psychology of Cleaning Your Room!
You see, your environment has a direct influence on the way you feel, which has an impact on your overall productivity/efficiency in all aspects of your life. Allowing ourselves to neglect minor, seemingly less important tasks actually gives them greater value, making small things feel like an even bigger chore than what they actually are. And, of course, a lot of small things combine to make one big thing. Not only is the accumulation of to-dos a problem, but because you know that this isn’t the way things should be, this adds to the stress you already have from other aspects of your life.
This isn’t the case for everyone, though. Some people tend to flourish in a messy space. For example, creatives by nature go against conventional reasoning. So going against the societal norm of being organised, having a messier environment (workspace and/or living space) can be more conducive to their creativity. Einstein said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?”
So, what it the moral of the story?
Get to know yourself. It’s important to gauge the impact of your environment on your effectiveness and adjust accordingly. If you’re truly perfectly content with living or working in an untidy environment and either benefit or aren’t affected by the messiness, then you have nothing to worry about. But if you notice that an untidy environment makes you feel unorganised and heightens your anxiety, it’s time to reprioritise.