bookshelf with colorful books

Your Result

Create calm by maintaining order in your surroundings

To be happier, consider a habit that will help you create calm by maintaining order in your surroundings.

Why this aim is likely to make you happier

For most of us, outer order leads to inner calm. At home, at work, and in life, when we get our possessions under control, we can create a more serene environment. A messy desk or crowded closet might not feel like a big problem in the scheme of things, but that extra stress can weigh us down over time.

When your most-used spaces are organized, you’ll save time looking for important items, experience less decision fatigue throughout the day, and feel less distracted.

Aims you might consider

Practice a 10-minute tidy-up at the end of every day

Make your bed every morning

Whenever you come across an item you want to donate, put it immediately in a box, and when that box is full, take it to a thrift store

Create a weekly cleaning schedule to reduce decision fatigue

Clean and organize your workspace every Friday evening

Organize one closet shelf per week

With each of your possessions, ask yourself “Do I need it? Do I want it? Do I love it?”

Use the Strategy of Pairing: listen to your favorite podcast only while doing the dishes

Know Yourself Better

Self-knowledge is an essential aspect of happiness, because we can create a happy life only on the foundation of our own nature, our own values, and our own interests. 

As you consider ways to create calm by maintaining order in your surroundings​​​, ask yourself:

  • Do you have any particular problem areas or are you prone to specific types of clutter? Identify the problem and focus your aim on that area for the biggest impact.
  • How much time do you spend looking for things you can’t find?
  • Do you feel an emotional or utilitarian connection to your possessions?
  • Consider your Tendency. Learn whether you’re an Obliger, Questioner, Upholder, or Rebel by taking the free Four Tendencies Quiz.
    • If you’re an Obliger, how can you get outer accountability for your regular cleaning tasks?
    • If you’re a Questioner, remind yourself of the time and effort you save when everything’s organized.
    • If you’re an Upholder, set up schedules for daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning tasks.
    • If you’re a Rebel, find a way to gamify your cleaning and organizing tasks.

A few notes of caution…

  • Many people tackle clutter by vowing, “I want to get organized.” Don’t start by getting organized! Start by donating, tossing, and recycling any items you don’t wish to keep. Once you’ve cleared out those unwanted items, you may not need to get organized.

  • ​​Beware of buying stuff in order to store your stuff (many people who are inclined to clutter are very attracted to storage gizmos and containers).

  • Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. If you can’t manage to end the day with a spotless kitchen, just focus on getting all the dishes into the dishwasher.