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Not all stress is bad stress, but constant stress is bad for our health. We live in a stressful world, and we are all exposed to more and more stress with less and less time to recover from it. However, there are things we can do to lower our stress. One important skill we can all develop is organization. I am not talking about having a picture perfect color coded custom blah blah blah. I am talking about being capable of taking care of the recurring mundane aspects of life with as little aggravation as possible. I am talking about being functional.  How much time do you spend every morning looking for your keys? Fifteen or twenty minutes? That’s stressful. How much time do you spend hunting for a pair of shoes in the back of your closet? Ten minutes? That’s stressful. I am not fussing at you. I am trying to let you know there is a sweet spot of organization that is just right for you. You do not have to choose between the extremes of minimalism and hoarding, military precision and Afghanistan.

If you are already suffering from a high level of stress, you may think you don’t have time to get organized. You can barely make it through your day as it is. If you are spending twenty minutes a day looking for stuff, I think I just found you an extra twenty minutes. And you can get organized twenty minutes at a time. You don’t need an extreme makeover.

At the risk of being overly directive let me give you a specific plan.

  • Get completely dressed when you get up in the morning.
  • Make your bed when you get up in the morning.
  • Spend about fifteen or twenty minutes a day getting rid of clutter. Clutter is anything you don’t need or want anymore.  You can do this all at once, or in five minute segments throughout the day.
  • Designate a “landing and launching pad” in your house. This is where you will put whatever you need to take with you the next day.
  • Lay out your clothes for the next day before you go to bed. This will make getting ready easier.
  • If you have a family, get up fifteen minutes earlier than they do.
  • Designate one day of the week for recurring tasks. For example, fill up your car with gas every Friday. Stop by the grocery store on Monday. Water the plants on Tuesday.

If you have a glacial mass of stuff that just floats around your house, it’s probably because you haven’t designated a place for everything. If you don’t have room for it, something’s gotta go. Most of us have too much clutter.

How will you know when you are organized? Ask yourself these questions.

  • If you had unexpected company, could you get your house presentable (not spotless!) in about twenty minutes or less?
  • If you were stuck inside due to a snowstorm, could you rustle up dinner with what you have in your house for a few days?
  • If (God forbid) you had to get to the hospital could you get ready and find your keys and get out the door in a reasonably short amount of time?

When you can find what you need when you need it, you’re organized. Your life will be less stressful, and you will have more time to relax and enjoy.