As I mentioned in my last post, I have been going through some major life changes. From what I understand, moving, along with breakups, graduating, and loss of friendships/loved ones, is one of the most traumatic experiences one can go through. You uproot your entire life to move somewhere different, tasked with making new friends, finding a place to live, potentially starting a new job or beginning at a new school. As with all of the other traumatic experiences mentioned above, you’re closing the book on one chapter of your life, and opening it on another (pardon the mixed metaphors, but I feel like they’re illustrative). The entire process can be incredibly overwhelming.
In these deep and desperate moments, when you’re looking for comfort and familiarity, it can be easiest to turn toward your vices for support. For some, it’s gluttony, others lust or lethargy. Maybe for you it’s sitting down on your couch and marathoning your favorite sitcom. And there’s nothing wrong with that! But the occasion does arise that you’ve spent too long laying in bed eating coffee ice cream out of the carton and avoiding the world, and it’s time to get up. And it’s really really hard.
This is the first in a five-part series on self-empowerment. I’ve found that when life feels impossible and I want to crawl into a corner and hide, undertaking one (or all!) of these tasks can help get me out into the big, scary world outside my front door and conquer my fears and reluctance.
PART ONE: CLEAN AND ORGANIZE YOUR SPACE.
Gah! The capslock makes this task look scary, but it is really not. When I think of cleaning and organizing, I, too, buckle under the pressure. Especially because I’m not a terribly organized person to begin with, so when I decide to get my hands dirty (as it were) and tackle my mess, I’m afraid it’s going to take forever and I give up.
Here’s the trick. Don’t give up. The goal in organizing your room is not to clean and scour every corner or to get rid of everything you don’t need. The goal is to make you feel comfortable in your own space, and often that can take very little time and effort.
Keeping yourself motivated is the hardest part. I always put on some music—something upbeat and danceable—and decide what I’m going to do first. Another easy way to keep yourself motivated is to set a time limit. Work for a half hour, then take a break. Or an hour, if you have the time. Setting a time limit will motivate you to keep going, and knowing you can take a break will give you some release.
If you’re like me, your bed doubles as a shelf or a storage area. This can make it very difficult to keep your room clean, because if you sleep in your bed and it has stuff all over it, it becomes hard to make. Move the stuff onto the ground or another area, and make your bed. You will be surprised how amazing this makes you feel. Eventually, you’ll get into the habit of doing it every day, and this one tiny task will make your life that much easier.
Most people create intuitive piles for organizing books, papers, records, and other loose items. This is totally okay, if it’s how your brain works, but having a bunch of messy piles can be overwhelming. Turn your messy piles into neat stacks. Just by straightening up your existing piles, you’ll be able to see some of the surface the pile is sitting on, thus making you feel slightly more organized. Remember, this is about making you feel good about your space. Don’t change something that works (piles) just for sake of organizing—adapt your style to make yourself more comfortable.
Now that your bed is made, it is acceptable to use it as a staging area for whatever else you need to put away. For me, this usually ends up being clothes—both clean and dirty—that are strewn about. Use your bed as a staging area to organize other items. I tend to put all my clothes in a pile on my bed, and fold them or hang them up from there. It’s especially great because it motivates you to finish. Can’t sleep if there are clothes all over your bed!
Finally, and this is the most important part, it is important that you take a break. Everything I’ve suggested here will aid in making your room look cleaner and more organized, so take a moment to pat yourself on the back and appreciate your hard work! I usually will put on a record, sit in my bed, and look around at what I’ve done. It also feels really good to step outside your room and walk back in. You’ll be surprised at how great it looks!
Of course, there is more you can do to clean your room, including getting out the supplies and sweeping, mopping, dusting, and the like. But if you’re a busy person, like I am, sometimes you only have a little bit of time to make your space organized. If you have a longer amount of time, and you’ve gotten so motivated by doing the tasks suggested above, go right ahead and get down and dirty! If you’re seeking to make yourself feel better and get excited about life, however, these seemingly small tasks can make a big difference.
Come back next week to read part two of our self empowerment series: volunteering.