Confessions of a Neat Freak: The Psychology Behind Organization

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I’m a Neat Freak… WAIT… Am I Monica from Friends?

I have a confession to make; I am a neat freak! This revelation came to me when I was in college while watching an episode of Friends. I casually said to my boyfriend; I have the personality of Chandler (Mathew Perry), he laughed and said: “Are you kidding me? You’re Monica” (Courtney Arquette).

I thought I was the funny, laid back person who had the witty banter, not the overly obsessive girl who felt the compulsion to keep things orderly and tidy. Apparently, I was wrong.

Mess Causes Stress: The Mental Cost of Clutter

According to an article by Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D. Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies. (The mental cost of clutter) Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves.

Messy homes and workspaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives. 

Clutter does cause a lot of stress. I recognized when my kitchen is messy I’m uneasy. It is easy to allow things to accumulate. However, doing a little each day will help keep clutter away as well as ease anxiety and stress that comes with having a mess.

What Should I DO to Manage Stress?

Here are some things you can do to keep a clutter-free space:

  • Put it on your calendar: Create a daily to-do list of things that need to be done. Do not allow weeks to pass before completing a task.
  • Read your mail by the trash: Immediately throw away letters and magazines you do not need. Putting them in recycling ensures that it will not add to the pile.
  • Make your square footage count. The more things you have, the less square footage you have. Fewer things give your space an open and airy feel. Making a small space feel bright and spacious.
  • Less is just less, and that’s a good thing. Having fewer items in space is okay, not every inch needs to be filled with something.
  • Laundry is my nemesis, but it doesn’t have to be yours: Create an activity around it. While Folding, you can catch up on a show at the same time. Creating a positive association with a dreaded task will give you the reinforcement needed to follow through.

In a study in the September issue of Psychological Science, Kathleen Vohs, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, found that working in a tidy room encourages people to do socially responsible, normatively “good” things like eat healthfully and give to charity.

Life Needs Organization

For me, an organized space creates order and helps me manage stress. To maintain a balance between work/home/personal/emotional/mental wellness, I have to be organized. Clutter free is the way to be; it produces an environment with a sense of calmness.

I am not entirely Monica; I do not obsess over cleaning. However, the benefits of being a “neat freak” outweigh the cons.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Wow, another anxiety or OCD patient in denial. She has thought it all through and has decided, “it’s best for me to stay a neat freak”

    that’s what they all say. meanwhile they have no time or patience for anything else.

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