In the search for freedom in our lives, we’re looking for control over the decisions we make. Recent statistics suggest that up to 20% of us experience anxiety in some form; the reason for such a large, recent surge in the figures? We don’t live simply. Life has become over-complicated, there are usually far too many things to think about.
Conversations to have, people to visit, jobs to complete: the list is endless.
The funny thing is, the to-do list will never stop being added to. If the natural response is feeling overwhelmed, then steps must be put in place to preserve a sense of calm. When we feel like things are out of control, we experience a similar anxiety to the feeling of a messy environment – it’s painful trying to get something done when you don’t know where anything is and, worse of all, it can make us feel that we’re unable to.
Time to break the vicious circle, here are 4 best practices for keeping a tidy mind.
Own things with purpose
Less is more, the old saying goes. Yet the average home contains tens of thousands of items – and in the US around 10% of families have to rent additional storage to deal with surplus belongings. This sort of unmanageable excess in our lives is leading to dangerous levels of stress.
We should own things we want, not simply collected over the years. Being clear of the role of the belongings in our home, bag or on our desk can play critical role in our confidence or comfort.
To keep on top of the clutter, we must allocate time to tidy. Setting aside time once a week to clear through one section of a room or a particular cupboard can act as a form of meditation. Quietly and purposefully sorting through the useful from the expired – appreciating or remembering when things were necessary – is a practical exercise to help tidy our minds and homes.
Mess leads to stress (and usually procrastination)
"I don't think stuff is inherently wrong or bad," says Andrew Mellen, professional organiser and author of Unstuff Your Life, "but if things have become obstacles to your happiness, that's a problem."
We can feel paralysed by the number of loose ends on a to-do list – if we try to do everything at once, we end up not doing anything at all. Messy spaces create a similar paradox where there is so much going on that we are unable to focus one thing: cue procrastination.
Everything is clearer when it’s approached one at a time; from talking to friends on WhatsApp to packing your bag for a holiday – a process to follow makes for light work. Day-to-day, using tools like the Knomad Organiser that can be filled with the essentials (like business cards, portable battery, pen and paper) then put into a larger bag so that you know you have everything, or carried by itself.
Every little bit of organisation helps.
We spend around 10 hours a day using our devices. That’s a lot of screen time that often can’t be helped – almost all office work and most entertainment is now accessed through a screen – it goes without saying that we need ‘time off’.
While our devices allow us to do so much, so quickly, capturing moments away from our smartphones, tablets and laptops can do a world of good in such a stimulating world.
Allocating a screen-free hour before bed can help us unwind, rather than notifications pinging or an intense film playing. Or taking moments where we can – on the train or walking between meetings. Knomo bags and accessories like the Mason clutch now include RFID-blocking pockets, which can be used to block the signal of your phone at any point (and keep your contactless cards safe).
Just Say No
We frequently try to cram so much into our weeks that we end up exhausted. Feeling over scheduled, drowning in old belongings and unable to see the end of the to-do list are all symptoms of the same problems.
Time is precious and it’s easy to get caught up in more and more stuff. We don’t have to do everything; giving yourself breathing room and downtime is part of a successful routine.
Putting yourself first – whether that’s saying yes or no – is essential for building confidence that will help put other parts of our lives into perspective. Organising ourselves to act with purpose and being specific with our goals is the first step towards achieving them.