Getting “organized” is a black hole. Here’s what to do instead

Getting organized as the solution to all your problems has been trending lately.

We sought to find out if getting organized really was the solution to all our ailments.

Here’s what we found out.

Organization hacks just add more stress

You’ve seen the articles, from effective storage hacks to the top five organizational tips for your workday.

But what the research actually shows is that too much organization adds more stress than takes away.

“There’s the “Inbox Zero” movement, a popular approach to email management] that emphasizes clearing your inbox at the end of every workday. Proponents say doing this can improve your productivity and time management, and maybe also lower your stress.

Beyond self-improvement philosophies, there’s the popularity of “organization porn” on Pinterest and Instagram—images of household items, often food-related, arranged in neat and symmetrical grids,” reported TIME.

While physical clutter can indeed lead to lower levels of life satisfaction, it isn’t necessarily a symptom of other problems like procrastination, according to this Journal of Environmental Psychology study.

Another study found that while an orderly space can promote healthy choices, it also tends to promote conventional-type thinking. On the other side of the coin, the study linked a disorganized space with higher levels of creativity and idea generation.

So feel free to throw that towel on the ground. It’ll protect your mental health – and sanity.

Organization’s cousin productivity and why it matters

Organization and productivity are clearly related. We know this because they’re both widely misunderstood and a bit of an enigma.

And, just like its cousin productivity, organization is one of these buzzwords that’s actually just a black hole and not the gift that keeps on giving we thought it was.

Many of us probably already knew this intuitively but strive for these anyway, because well, they’ve been so deeply ingrained in us.

Expressions like “for every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned” have turned out to be, well, just expressions that aren’t true.


And while it’s ok (and probably a good idea) to try to keep a relatively clean space because clutter can be associated with feeling depressed and higher levels of stress, it isn’t really the full story.

But when you become obsessed with making sure all your bottles are straight (speaking from experience here), you’ve almost most certainly lost sight of the big picture and entered an unhealthy “organization” zone.

And by unhealthy I mean that it takes a huge toll on your mental health.

So what’s the solution and what does all this have to do with work?

The best solution we’ve found is a) to detox from the words organization and productivity completely and b) to do things that make you happy.

The organization makes you happy to a point so do it only to that point, mindfully and integrated into the rest of your life.

And you can integrate the same “strategies” (actually, they’re non-strategies) into your work life as well.

The organization has been ingrained in us from a very young age as an essential and invaluable part of our work lives. Just like it’s touted for all its benefits at home, so too it is for our work lives.

But it can be equally detrimental to our well-being at work, too.

The good news is that the same rules apply to work organization detox as for home/life organization detox.

So ditch the endless to-do lists detox your mental health instead.