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12 Habits of Perfectly Organized People

12 Habits of Perfectly Organized People

It’s true what they say: clutter breeds clutter. There are so many of us who dream of running a less chaotic household or struggle to remember what our office desk looks like. We crave order, yet at the same time resist due to the negative connotations attached to being perfectly organized.

There are many who believe being perfectly organized is like believing in unicorns: it’s just not going to happen. There are also misconceptions that being “organized” means being a control freak or a neat freak. That if you prefer to organize the food in your fridge a specific way, you’re not being efficient, you’re being OCD. That you’re not truly enjoying your life because you’re focusing on mundane details you “shouldn’t” consider important.

I’m here to say that’s a huge pile of crap! As someone who’s gone from chaotic and spontaneous to organized and efficient, there are so many benefits to the latter this topic could be turned into a self-help book. The top three benefits of being perfectly organized are:

  • Not being in a permanent state of “catch-up” decreases your stress level by 10,000 percent and increases your self-esteem by the same amount.
  • You’re able to work less and accomplish more.
  • You always know where your keys are!

By being perfectly organized, you’re respecting your most valuable commodity: time. It helps you accomplish all you set out to, both professionally and personally. It gives you the freedom to be exactly who you are and live a life of minimal stress, not to mention how much more enjoyable the present moment becomes.

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If you’d like to feel this way too, here are 12 habits of perfectly organized people I’ve observed, read about, and am currently attempting to execute:

1. They know who they want to be.

Perfectly organized people have an exact definition of how they want their life to be – from how they want their home to look, to how they want to dress, to how they spend their time – which makes it a lot easier to set goals and feel a sense of accomplishment.

2. They know how to say, “No.”

Because they know exactly what they want, it’s easier for them to say, “No”: when they’re offered a work project or invited to a social gathering that doesn’t advance their lifestyle in some way, they’re able to decline with confidence and aren’t easily swayed by societal pressure.

3. They’re mindful shoppers.

Just because something’s on sale doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Perfectly organized people always ask themselves, “Do I really need this?” before every purchase. Not only does this help keep your budget intact, it pushes you away from using instant gratification as a tool to cope with rough patches.

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4. They’ve let go of their perfectionism.

If you try to do everything perfectly, it goes without saying you’ll feel like a constant disappointment. Perfectly organized people channel their perfectionist tendencies into their most important tasks – work assignments, remodeling their home, exercising – and with tasks that aren’t a priority, they do what they have to do to get the job done.

5. They don’t believe in labeling anything “miscellaneous.”

Though they don’t have much to store due to their minimalist nature, when perfectly organized people do store items, they specifically label and index where everything can be found. Their bills are specifically filed, and their Christmas decorations are specifically cataloged.

6. They separate emotions from possessions.

They don’t attach sentimental value to everything they own. For example, I still have my three favorite stuffed animals from when I was a kid, but not my entire collection. (I’m a big kid now!)

7. What they don’t need, they don’t own.

They don’t buy anything until they know it’s something they’re going to use right away or in the near future. From personal experience, there’s no worse feeling than cleaning an item more than you enjoy it. Trust me, you won’t miss the dusting. At all.

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8. They clean as they go.

Instead of waiting for the dishes to pile or the recycling to take itself out, the perfectly organized carve out chunks of time to maintain their lifestyle. This might sound like a drag, but there’s no better feeling than having time off, and not having to spend it running errands or cleaning, since they’re already taken care of.

9. They understand the power of one.

One checking account. One savings account. One credit card. One email address. Perfectly organized people understand that consolidation and simplicity equals more freedom.

10. When it comes to planning, they’re all about the details.

Perfectly organized people don’t just plan in advance: they plan way in advance, and they plan in detail. Sure, their to-do lists look like scrolls, but it’s only because they’ve broken down each of their tasks into manageable mini-tasks. Not only does this make each goal less overwhelming, it also helps you foresee any potential conflicts that could get in the way of your end result. BAM!

11. They don’t procrastinate.

Because of how much respect they have for their time, perfectly organized people don’t procrastinate, and they have no reason to: because of their maintain-as-they-go, to-do-list-Zorroing way of life, there’s no need to.

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12. They believe in quality over quantity.

To perfectly organized people, quantity equals clutter. They’d rather be surrounded by a minimal amount of items, all of which they use, enjoy, and actually have time to take care of properly. Professionally, they’d rather streamline their focus into a specialty where they can thrive, instead of working in more than one area and completing mediocre work.

Do you strive to be perfectly organized? Why, or why not?

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Krissy Brady

A women's health & wellness writer with a short-term goal to leave women feeling a little more empowered and a little less verklempt.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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