I follow a career education blog entitled Classy Career Girl, offering excellent advice on the importance of uncluttering your surroundings, and the impact it can have on your productivity. The main reason I am writing this post is because I am better able to travel with peace of mind when I organize my surroundings. Nothing beats post travel depression than knowing you have a clean house, organized desk, car and less cluttered hard drives to return home to.
From an academic standpoint, I have experienced both sides of the coin. During my grad school career, it wasn’t uncommon for me to “let things go”. Oftentimes, I would let the bookshelf go in order to perfect a term paper. With the looming pressure of that Epidemiology exam, do you think I cared about my closet being organized by the piece? Fat chance! While it may be easy to put off seemingly useless activities (yes, I know: An organized closet won’t promise you an A on your exam….then again, it depends on how you think of it 😉 ); you must understand that letting things get out of control can have consequences you may not realize.
Many of us on the Autism spectrum do struggle with executive skills. Executive skills include time management, and overall organization. General stressors from life can trigger us to fall off of our schedules. In my case, I tend to be very rigid with a schedule I set for myself. Any unexpected event can easily throw me off of my momentum. Not on purpose, but it is due to that specific stressor interrupting my plans and sense of security.
During my final semester of grad school, I started paying more attention to how my home organization affected my overall productivity and mood. During mid terms, I allowed my research articles to stay stranded all over the place, let my desk get out of control, and didn’t bother to clear clutter all because I felt I had more important things to do that week. In fact, I completed most of my work outside my apartment, in the library. Throughout the week, as this went on, I noticed that I was much more agitated with the smaller things. I was more agitated with my main pet peeve, which is waiting in traffic. Having my home disorganized caused me to feel like procrastinating. When trying to complete an assignment in my home, I had difficulty concentrating and frequently got distracted.
It became blaringly obvious to me how much something seemingly as small can affect my motivation, mood, and even my outlook.
I couldn’t take it anymore, and decided to put away any and all assignments to organize things. Abruptly. I was able to devote the rest of my week to organizing EVERY SINGLE LAST area of my home.
No sooner did I accomplish that did my entire outlook change. I was able to finish my assignment, have a clearer mind, not be as agitated. I even found that I had better judgment when planning my next trip.
On the travel side of things, it seems that I could easily make better packing decisions, timing, and logistics when my entire environment was organized.
You may not think so, but KNOWING that you have a organized environment awaiting you when you return from a trip will put a halt in dealing with post travel depression upon arrival (even more so when you return from a sunny environment, to a snow storm).
The lesson in this, never EVER underestimate the importance of that spring clean that is needed once and a while.
Til Next Time,
P.S. Even though the “just do it” approach worked for me, a tip that may work for someone who struggles with executive functioning would be writing out a schedule. Just visualizing your obligations in proportion to time will help alleviate overwhelm, especially as unexpected things always seem to occur. Get help organizing a schedule from a friend, parent, caregiver, school’s disability specialist, counselor or any other trusted individual. Another helpful tip is to devote time weekly or biweekly for to dedicate to each are of your space (if your entire space is too overwhelming to deal with at once). Small things should be done on a daily basis, such as dishwashing, putting away cooking materials etc….