Albert Einstein once asked, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” In a study conducted by psychologist Sabine Kastner at Princeton University, the answer is obvious—clear thinking. With over 20 years of research behind her, Kastner has found that “visual clutter competes with our brain’s ability to pay attention and tires out our cognitive functions over time.” When we have a hard time focusing, we experience stress. In this article, I will offer some organization and design tips to help keep the stress of daily living at bay.

The Kitchen

The kitchen has always played a pivotal role in our homes. It is the hub of not only cooking and gathering but of day-to-day family life. For this reason, it is often the most disorganized space in the home. From small appliances and pantry items to favorite pans and serving dishes, it can be difficult to find a place for every item. Here a couple of simple solutions:

  1. Most used items are front and center. Items that are used every day—such as favorite spices and a small selection of storage containers—should be within easy reach at all times.
  2. Create “use zones.” Love a great cup of coffee in the morning? Make sure that all your coffee-making appliances (Moka pot, milk frother, must-have coffee mug) are within easy reach of one another.
  3. Rethink your shelving. When you look into your cabinets, what do you see? The most frequently used items should be easy to spot and readily available. Meanwhile, special occasion items (such as serving pieces and special occasion items) should go higher up.

Home Office

An organized home office can help boost your creativity and productivity, but it is also important that the space fits your personal work style. Don’t underestimate the importance of your home office aesthetics; it is the key to knowing what makes you happy and productive. Consider the following:

  1. Impact of color. Colors can impact the mood of your home office. For example, red tends to make people feel more passionate about their work while blue tends to make people feel more mellow. Choose your paint and accessory colors wisely.
  2. Create “use zones.” Just like in the kitchen, keep items you need for a particular task together. For example, extra reams of paper and toner should be kept in close proximity to the printer.
  3. Pesky cords. Modern offices tend to have many cords; minimize the mess with a power strip behind your desk and plug everything into that. Also, create a charging station for all mobile devices.

Closets

A clean, organized bedroom closet allows you to streamline your routine, thereby saving time and energy. As with most home projects, organizing your closet should start with a good cleaning (imagine all that extra space for wardrobe updates!). Here are some suggestions to follow when reorganizing your closet.

  1. Look up. Vertical space is often overlooked in closets. If you already have a shelf installed above the clothes rod, use that space to store items in bins or baskets.
  2. Find the right hanger. Believe it or not, something as simple as a hanger can make a big difference in a closet. Velvet hangers are great for storing delicate items, while multi-garment hangers offer more storage capacity in a small space.
  3. Hidden storage. Make use of the inside of the closet door by using over-the-door storage for occasionally used items such as umbrellas, winter gear, and purses.

Are you ready to start organizing but don’t know where to begin? Start with the space that most impacts your day-to-day living, whether that is your kitchen, home office, or closets.