Organize Your Space for Maximal Bliss

Organize Your Space for Maximal Bliss

I'm the first to admit that I'm an extremely organized person. Maybe too organized. If something doesn't appear on a list or fit in a checkbox, I don't know how to deal with it. Cue the creative Type B people rolling their eyes. Despite my hyper-organization, my physical space leaves much to be desired. At least it does according to my standards. People usually tell me that my apartment is tidy or that my office desk is very neat for a lawyer, but as we are our own worst critics, I usually think that my space is a hot mess. So this week I decided to apply my anal organizational skills to my office and my apartment. Sort of like a spring (fall) cleaning, but something done more methodically than simply throwing everything out.

Take 1: The Office Bookshelf 

On day 1, I began my fall cleaning with my office. Over the last 18 months, I've amassed a ton of extraneous junk in my not-so-large office. A family-size bottle of Tums and a pair of crutches come to mind. In fact, more than one person has entered my office and commented that it is "weird" that I have 12 boxes of tea and a deodorant stick but no actual books on my bookshelf. Hello, it's 2016. No one uses "books" anymore. Google it, okay?

On Monday evening, as I was about to head home, I developed an irrational desire to jumpstart my organization right there and then. There are two major areas of disorganization in my office: my book(less) shelf and my file cabinet. I decided to stick to my bookshelf, where a massive pile of case files had been hanging out for ages. Some of these files were old cases that I had previously closed but had not stored in our office-wide filing cabinet/storage shed per office protocol. Others were files for cases that I needed to close months ago but had failed to do so. (Dear bosses, please just skip this paragraph, k, thanks). I gathered the hundreds (okay, dozens) of files in my burly arms, carefully tiptoed down the stairs to our storage shed, and left them to die amongst the thousands of other cold cases.

Then I started organizing the rest of my book shelf. I arranged all the boxes of tea together, moved the deodorant to its natural resting place (sandwiched between an industrial-sized bottle of mouthwash and an economy triple-pack of toothpaste), and created a special corner for my hippie healthy self (essential oils, candles, and vitamins). Yes, I do realize that I am running a highish-end Duane Reade out of my office.

Then I tackled my least favorite part of the bookshelf-- the 10-pound stack of various papers that I had accumulated over the last year and a half. Most of these papers were training materials, and I started tossing the ones that seemed irrelevant. I might have been a bit generous in my definition of "irrelevant," but I have a very good excuse: I love throwing shit away. I would have liked to be even more organized and put each training material into its own separate and clearly-labeled folder, but let's be real--ain't nobody got time for that.

Real talk: in 30 minutes or less, I gave my office a partial but dramatic makeover, which left me feeling extremely pleased with myself. Confidence boost!

Take 2: Wardrobe Makeover

I am a pretty neat person, but I've always struggled with neatly folding my clothes. As a child, my mother would cry tears of angst anytime she opened my dresser drawers. And I don't blame her. Like a normal human, all of my drawers were organized by type of clothing: pants in one, sweaters in another. Except for the top left drawer. That was my "multi-purpose" drawer, a burial ground where I haphazardly threw all of my outgrown/outdated clothes that I was too stingy to donate but would never wear again. I'm talking horizontal striped halter tops (cringe), velvet dresses (before velvet became trendy again), army print mesh pants (I had a green/brown pair, my sister rocked a baby blue/navy pair), and a stash of what I can only describe as "misguided urban hip hop clothing" (cringe again).

These days, my fashion sense is markedly better, but I still neglect to properly fold most of my clothes. I don't crumple my clothes, and I certainly don't leave them lying around the house like a heathen, but my folding could use some work. And this week was the perfect time to tackle this chore because the weather finally gave us the "F you, this is the east coast, and it's getting cold as shit" drill, and I needed to remind myself that I had to shift my wardrobe from sundresses to bulky, unflattering sweaters.

I have four primary dresser drawers where I put folded clothes: (1) sweaters and long-sleeved blouses, (2) unmentionables and tank tops/summer blouses, (3) workout gear and pajamas, and (4) miscellaneous/sleazy (i.e., swimwear, short shorts, and other summer clothing that no respectable 29-year old should be wearing).

organize space bliss happiness

Reorganizing my closet was not a short task, but it certainly was satisfying. However, to my surprise, I only put a small handful of items in the "donate pile": socks that had been mysteriously but inevitably separated from their twins, a hideous faux silk scarf that screamed "early 2000s," a pair of cutoff jean shorts, and a few ill-fitting blouses that flatter literally no one. Typically, I really enjoy getting rid of old clothes, but this time, the more enjoyable part was simply bringing some semblance of order and logic to my wardrobe (i.e., only a complete monster would put sarongs in the same drawer as professional blouses, or ankle socks with long winter socks).

Real talk: the change in the seasons is the perfect time to reorganize your closet/dresser. If you are even remotely neat, I guarantee this will provide you with a sense of accomplishment.

Take 3: Office Cabinets

After beaming with pride at my newly organized and tidy bookshelf, I couldn't help but tackle my office filing cabinet. When you hear the term filing cabinet, you might assume that I keep my case files in there. And your assumption is partially correct. In the top drawer, I store case files. But the bottom drawer is my adult equivalent of that "multi-purpose" clothes drawer in my parent's home: it's a place where I put things that I may need or want someday but don't want to deal with. It's kind of like the "under the bed" danger zone. You know, the zone underneath your bed where you shove a bunch of crap and hope that it never sees the light of day again.

Here's a list of some of the gems I found in my filing cabinet:

  • A can of kidney beans: I went through a phase where I thought I was iron-deficient, and kidney beans seemed like a good place to start. Then I reminded myself that kidney beans taste like soil and I hate them. Donate pile.
  • A 200 pack of surgical gloves: Lest you think I am a serial killer who does my dirty work at my office, I must inform you that I bought these gloves after a particularly grisly incident in which I chopped a very spicy pepper, subsequently rubbed my eyes, and felt the fire of a thousand burning suns in my eyeballs.
  • An almond so old, disfigured, and discolored that I mistook it for a penny and put it in my wallet: I am not proud.
  • $2.47 in change, if we're counting the dirty almond. Otherwise, $2.46.
  • An adult coloring book and colored pencils: I suppose "adult coloring book" makes it sound like a porny magazine, but it's actually just a stress-relieving coloring book for adults. Except I only used it a few times and have since resorted to my usual form of stress management: eating large quantities of chocolate.
  • My 2015 W2 wage & tax statement form: Mama always said to store your important documents in a safe place.

organize space bliss happiness

Real talk: after cleaning up or tossing these very odd items, I felt a sense of relief wash over me. Like a very overdue sense of relief. I highly recommend you go clean underneath your bed asap.

Take 4: Kitchen Pantry

If you know me at all, you know that I'm obsessed with food. A natural companion of food obsession is the possession and storage of large quantities of food. Any time there is a major storm or hurricane warning, I just laugh at the hordes of people who ransack the grocery store at the last minute? Why? Because my kitchen is always prepared to feed a small army should any natural disaster strike.

Unfortunately, living in New York City necessarily means limited space, so I have to be deliberate about how and where I store food. So with my organizational kick in full swing, this week was the perfect time to reorganize my kitchen cabinets.

This was a particularly interesting experience since it was the first time I've taken a thorough inventory of my pantry since going vegan. The main offenders were ghee (clarified butter) and honey. But since my partner isn't vegan and I hate throwing away food, I kept those items (but may have shoved them towards the very back).

Since I'm not a monster, there wasn't anything moldy or rotten to get rid of, except for a few vitamin bottles from 2013. Instead, my biggest task was to remove every item, ask myself if it was still fresh and if I still used it, and then arrange it in a sensible manner. Having a mild case of OCD, I arranged my spices by temperature/use (i.e., cinnamon goes with ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg; oregano with basil and thyme) and put all of my grains and nuts in clearly labeled containers. Afterwards, I treated myself to a mini bottle of champagne because why the hell not?

organize space happiness

Real talk: I cannot describe the immense level of satisfaction I experienced after seeing my reorganized cabinets. If you know the feeling I'm talking about, go start cleaning your cabinets!

Have you reorganized your home or office? Did it make you feel happier, more confident, or less stressed? I'd love to hear from you!