I ran a Professional Organizing business for a few years, and one of the things I learned is that mental and physical clutter are absolutely linked.

Most of the time, people called me because their physical clutter had become an unbearable obstacle in their lives. While everyone’s definition of unbearable is different, people almost always felt the same way: all this stuff is in my way (either at home or at the office) and I can’t move ahead with my life when I can’t find what I need. The physical clutter blocks their mental flow and they feel constricted.

Sometimes, when I speak with someone who has reached out to me for help I can tell just by what they’re telling me about their lives that their mental state is causing physical clutter. Someone who feels lost, out of control, or depressed often mirrors those feelings in their physical environment. Occasionally the physical clutter is soothing to them – like a wall they’ve built around themselves for protection, but the physical mess just ends up adding to their mental stress. Many people who call Professional Organizers express feeling ashamed and embarrassed.

Getting organized – both mentally and physically – isn’t about baskets and totes. It’s about habits, goals, and rewards. Establishing a habit takes about 30 days. Choose one small thing to change and try doing it for a month. When you get to two weeks, give yourself a little reward. If you get off track, don’t give up and don’t let that mental bully visit – just go back to trying. Enlist some support from a trusted friend or relative. Eventually you will reach your goal!

When you see the physical clutter building up, ask yourself what might be bothering you. When you’re feeling like your head is clogged with things to do, look around and see if getting organized can help you feel less stressed. Take small steps – every step is a step forward!