Organization in one area of your life can impact many—if not all—other areas. Super organized people know this and embrace the time and energy it takes to get organized and stay that way. The result? These folks are healthier, more productive and happier at the end of the day. Here’s what super organized people have in common.
1. They have routines
The highly organized among us are very good at maintaining said organization because they have routines. We’re talking daily, weekly, monthly and even annual routines. Entrepreneur highlights morning and evening rituals of the uber productive, like completing a skin care regimen religiously or meditating before bedtime. But beyond those habits, super organized people develop a variety of practices that become second nature. For instance, they declutter their homes throughout the year like clockwork (think spring cleaning or donating unused items every holiday season). They heed advice from financial planning services like Ellevest by sitting down each week to go over bank statements and bills.
Pro tip: The most effective routines are the ones tailored to your lifestyle. What works for the CEO of a Fortune 500 company may not work for the freelance graphic designer working contract to contract.
2. They get more done
A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that people who lived in cluttered homes were way more likely to be big-time procrastinators. Messy homes also led to lower levels of satisfaction with the home itself, which isn’t fun, especially if you’ve put a lot of time and money into your decor. Your home should recharge your batteries, not drain your energy. When everything in a home has its place and you know where to find your stuff, it frees up your mind to focus on more important things. Rather than frantically searching for your keys or travel mug in the morning, you can think about the day’s tasks and upcoming assignments. Instead of spending an hour digging through stacks of old documents shoved into a drawer, you can swiftly pull out your W2 from 2018 when you need to reference it and move on with your day.
Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean going full Marie Kondo on your entire house. The KonMari method is great for some, but minimalism does not equate to organization. Professional organization company Gotham Organizers says as long as you can find what you need, when you need it, you’re good to go. Maximalists, go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief.
3. They’re realistic, not perfectionistic
Building on that sentiment, super organized people are realists, not perfectionists. If it doesn’t make sense to toss a ton of “clutter,” don’t toss it. Saving hand-me-downs for Kid #2 in a box in the basement counts as organization. Be.Neat Studio encourages people—especially families—to designate one “area for things in rotation.” This means picking a specific space for things you know will only live there temporarily.
On top of that, McGill University professor of psychology and behavioral neuroscience Daniel Levitin told The Washington Post we’ve got to be flexible when it comes to priorities. We may have daily routines and plans, but things happen outside our control. Being able to pivot in the moment is crucial to maintaining a sense of organization. Levitin, who authored The Organized Mind, suggests writing down everything from your to-do list onto separate note cards, then prioritizing them in a stack or on a bulletin board. This allows you to shift the order (re-prioritize) as needed.
4. They are mentally and physically healthy
Studies on the negative effects of disorganization are everywhere. One from Indiana University involving St. Louis residents and neighborhoods “found that the inside of study subjects' homes had more to do with higher physical activity levels than the sidewalks, lighting and other elements considered.” So, not only does cleaning your home keep you active, it encourages additional physical activity beyond tidying up. Another study concluded organized environments led to healthier food choices and—interestingly—increased generosity. (It is worth noting this study found disorganized spaces led to more creative and innovative decisions. Our interpretation? A space dedicated to chaos and creativity within an organized home or office is totally acceptable.)
Finally, the Journal of Environmental Psychology study also discovered disorganized homes typically increase residents’ cortisol levels. This means higher stress and a greater chance of developing depression. If you want to feel physically and mentally better, try starting with your environment.
5. They’re always thinking about their future selves
Your distant future self will thank you for opening a 401K and wearing sunscreen. Your immediate future self will thank you for prepping those overnight oats tonight so you have something to eat tomorrow a.m. Super organized people are constantly thanking their past selves for planning ahead. Yes, it’s important to live in the moment (re-prioritizing as needed) and tackle one task at a time (our brains actually cannot multitask), but we can’t over emphasize how essential it is to do your future self some favors. Organized people think ahead and take actions today that will benefit them tomorrow (or this weekend, next month or in ten years). Pre-planning goes hand-in-hand with productivity; the more disorganized you are, the more likely you are to procrastinate and leave tasks to the last minute.
When in doubt, think of the Nike swoosh and “Just Do It.”