As clinical psychologist, author, and ex-professor from Harvard and UofToronto, Jordan B. Peterson always says, "clean your room!" It's a great first step in "sorting ourselves out." We clean our room and it clears the area, checks something off the list, gives us some momentum, and leaves the whole environment in better shape. That feeling carries over into your work space. Many renowned designers say they work best in a spotless environment, in the comfiest, most unprofessional clothes possible. We're just going to focus on the former.
With that said, let's take a look how you can start to sort your house out!
Make your garage work
Garages go along with attics, closets, basements, and sheds as the "just toss it in there" spaces of American homes, but imagine pulling in and noticing things were finally neat! Coming home after a long day to a taken-care-of area?? Maybe it even has systems in place to make things easier for you?! What a concept. Well, if you want, we can make it reality with these ideas.
- Hang some peg boards and outline spots for tools with a marker.
- Go minimalist; ditch the superfluous, like that cardboard cutout in the corner. It's weird anyways.
- Clean out that white fridge from the 90's with all those capri-suns and beers. Why do we all have this thing?
- Store what you want to keep, but don't use at least every couple of months, somewhere else to free up room.
- Get a workbench. Even if you don't use it to build birdhouses or something, it's a great place to store car and home maintenance stuff.
Its likely that your garage is the first thing you experience when you come home, so it sets the tone whether we want it to or not.
Most garages are the same, but yours might face unique circumstances. Try standing there and looking around as a passive observer. Get judgmental about the space, find its flaws, then think of how you could do it better. Don't make yourself feel bad though. This is constructive, not a roast. If at any point in any of these processes you do start to feel bad, just remember you're literally actively addressing the problem. You're doing great, so keep going.
Save time on laundry
If you think the only good thing about laundry is it means you have more clean clothes, you're in for good news. It's also psychologically rewarding. Bad news is, not doing laundry is equally as damaging. That's just means we're doubly incentivized, so let's get to it.
It's a great task to go on autopilot for, so set up a system that works for you. Have a plan and stick to it. Everybody's situation is, well, situational, so we don't have a plan for you, but we do have a magic trick to help.
Put the work in on the front end. It's worth it. Instead of having a day to do laundry, just do them as loads are ready to go in. This turns an all-day event every other Sunday into two five-minute tasks every couple of days. Throw it in the wash, go make and eat dinner, switch it to the dryer, and grab it when you throw another wash in. Easy.
Yes, your mom did in fact ghost write this. Your rooms a mess btw.
Make your kitchen work
You know how you use each space in your home, how you could improve it, and you know that sweet spot between "what is," and your ideal.
Do that with your kitchen.
Optimize it for your own style of use. Think of the culinary tasks you perform most often, and set the area up to make those tasks as seamless as possible.
The trick of interior design is mixing that utilitarianism with your own style. It's an artistic science that you'll fine tune over time (not because it's some must-do task, but because you keep noticing things and feel compelled to play around with them), so don't let it stress you out. Go with your flow!
Use storage boxes
Bins are incredibly useful organization tools. Any craftsman can attest to that with their 17 tool boxes, or a family with kids that sticks all the toys in bins that slide under beds, or anyone that sorts all their phone apps into folders, or Marie Kondo.
You can add walls of drawer-like bins to particularly cluttered rooms, or you can add some small bins that slide out from under your couch.
You can use your imagination here but the point is you can pick things up and put them down... in a bin... and it'll essentially disappear until you need it again. You'll just have to find a good, aesthetically pleasing spot for the bins. You got this.
Declutter the closet
- Take everything out.
- Only put back the stuff you're excited to wear again.
- Donate or store the rest.
- Feel super organized and fresh.
Bundle bathroom belongings
This is particularly important if you live with multiple people who share bathrooms. Two quick things you can do for almost no money are getting a shelf for inside your shower, with each person having their own shelf, and getting some type of countertop baskets to divide things by owner or item class.
It also goes miles to add small things to your bathroom, like a few plants, maybe some photos or art, whether frames or actual pieces. Pieces go especially far in bathrooms because people don't usually think to add them to the space, like a small statuette on top of that pile of the 42 toilet paper rolls you have stacked next to your toilet from when the first 'Rona wave hit.
Yes, we know about the pile.
Remember, design and functionality go hand-in-hand. Organization is key, but if it's ugly and strictly utilitarian, you probably won't enjoy it very much.
Simplify, and make things easy/enjoyable!
It's too easy to associate negative feelings with tasks that don't deserve them. When we check off these small tasks, it's clinically proven that we, as humans, psychologically love it. Still, it's easier (read as: lazier) for a lot of us to associate "cleaning the house" with punishment. Maybe "doing chores" was punishment for some of us as kids, or maybe we feel like a waste of time (it is but when we're rich we'll hire someone else to do it), but it does a lot of good for us.
It's the chance to improve the world around us. We're starting by maintaining our own environment. We have to have to take care of ourselves, and our homes, before we can take care of our world.
When we check off these tasks, our brain rewards us chemically and our reality rewards us physically. We see the change AND we feel good about doing the thing we were "supposed" to do.
If we aren't "supposed to" do something, and instead we "choose to" do something, it puts us in a much better mindset.
Were you ever about to do something, then someone told you to do it, and it made you specifically want to not do it? Exactly. Do it for yourself, even if its in spite, it'll go a long way for you and your quality of life! Yes, actually; we promise.
That's the theme of this article! The best way to make your home office feel better is to do the things that will improve your home environment.
If you're interested in learning more about yourself, and how people work, here is Dr. Peterson's website.