Chapter 15: O is for Order

Order: transitive verb

or·​der | \ ˈȯr-dər \

to put in order: ARRANGE ¹

I think that it’s no coincidence that this book is formatted the way it is. After all, the alphabet is quite orderly. A is always before B. D doesn’t ever jump to the end of the line. M never decides to take a break and not show up. There is no guess work or chaos with the alphabet.  It seems even in my dreams, where this whole book idea originated, I search for order.

In recent years, Marie Kondo, the guru of organization and only keeping those things which bring us joy, has made a killing helping folks overcome their cluttered lives. I have to admit, I like watching her fold stuff and if you look in my dresser drawers, you’ll see that I’ve taken some of her instructions to heart.

In the article, “Marie Kondo’s ‘Tidying Up’ Explains Our Anxiety Over Clutter”, Marissa Hermanson discusses the phenomenon that is Marie Kondo, and the link between anxiety and clutter.

“It’s no secret that clutter and anxiety are linked, and there’s plenty of scientific evidence to prove it. For example, a Cornell University study found that people living in messy, chaotic environments consume more junk food. Another study by Princeton Neuroscience Institute discovered that in disorganized spaces people are more stressed, distracted, and in turn, less productive.” ²

According to Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D., psychologist, and author of “High-Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout”, clutter can be detrimental to our mental health.

“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.”

“Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important.”

“Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.” ³

Check, check, and check. (I’m pretty sure I could have written this without quoting Dr. Sherri because I know this to be true, but I thought it would add some weight to my argument to quote a professional. Did it work?) 

In my own home, I like to keep things as ordered as possible which isn’t always easy when you’re sharing digs with another person.

Last summer I purchased my first pottery wheel and set it up in our basement, and I was really excited to get down there and throw some pots. But as time went on, I found myself avoiding it, and when I did use my wheel, I struggled to find my creativity and express it through the clay. Then one day I looked around and realized I was surrounded by chaos. Overflowing shelves. Tools on the floor. Too. Much. Mess.

So, I recruited my husband (he was thrilled) and we cleaned up, threw stuff away, moved his stuff to an area where I couldn’t see it, and set up my wheel in a nice orderly space. Now I love going down there, and I’ve been more productive in the last month than I was in the last six.   

And (surprise surprise) I look for order in other areas of my life too. I find my days much easier if, for example, I have all of my commitments contained in the calendar in my phone so that I don’t have to remember where I’m supposed to be on any given day. I also like things like grocery lists and spreadsheets, and, as I’ve said before, there is nothing sexier than a good plan. I’ve developed some mean organizational skills throughout the years too, which makes me handy to have on a committee. (No, I don’t want to be on your committee.)

And finally, when it comes to any of the tools which we use to help us get through our lives, I believe moderation is key. Getting too hung up on keeping order can also induce anxiety. I know, I’ve done that too. This is the first house in which I have ever had a junk drawer in the kitchen. I made myself do it, wild woman that I am, to try to let go of some of my control issues. Its messy for sure (well, not too messy) but I know what’s in there, and I clean it out semi-regularly so it doesn’t get too junky. OK, so I recently bought some small containers to put stuff in within the drawer, but it’s still a junk drawer. I swear.

Maintaining a semblance of order in my life offers me peace of mind, so I will use it whenever and wherever I can. When chaos prevails, I will ride that wave to the best of my ability, always searching for a way back to order. I’ll be working on finding a balance between the two until the day I die, I’m sure. I know I’m not alone.


2. Marie Kondo’s Connection Between Anxiety and Clutter | Apartment Therapy

3. Psychology Today, Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies, The mental cost of clutter. Sherri Bourg Carter, Mar 14, 2012

3 thoughts on “Chapter 15: O is for Order

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s