Getting organized has become a recent phenomenon – books, television shows and all sorts of media are focusing on the organizing trend.
As a Dominance Factor Instructor (Brain Gym program), I’m interested in how the brain works and how being organized has in impact on brain function.
Whether you focus on a big picture, or prefer to think systematically, being organized is less stressful on the brain and helps you make better decisions. Here are three main reasons why getting organized is good for your brain.
3 Reasons To Get Organized
1. Decrease Sensory Overload and/or Overwhelm
The brain can only handle up to 7 thoughts at time, this is our short term memory in action. When our physical spaces are cluttered:
Focus is difficult and we’re easily distracted
It takes longer to complete a project
We are more likely to never even start a new project
We spend so much time and effort trying to find items we’ve misplaced – we become subconsciously distracted by our clutter, which is exhausting. Often people are multitasking and mentally more tired as opposed to focusing on one task and not being distracted by what’s missing or what’s around us. When there is too much going on there is a sense of heaviness or tension in the body which causes fatigue. These barriers are forms of physiological stress patterns which causes our body to enter fight or flight mode. This fight or flight mode drains us and we experience sensory overload.
When we are in an organized environment, we actually release GABA and dopamine, calming neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain), giving us a sense of peace and contentment. An organized space feels lighter as a result and makes it easier to focus – you’re less distracted and you’re able to complete tasks more efficiently. Best of all, your body will love you because it will feel lighter, less tense and more energized.
2. Clutter Creates A Stressed Brain
We are likely to enter high stress mode if there is too much busyness in our external environment. It increases that sense of chaos in our inner world – ie. brain function and body functions such as breathing and muscle tension.
The interesting thing most people don’t know is that when we enter stress mode our eyes become unable to focus on what’s in front of us. Instead, we focus on our environment because our body goes into fight or flight mode. Your dominant eye begins looking outward for danger, and we rely on the non-dominant eye to pick up information in front of us. This plays a role in our day to day lives.
For example, when we rush out the door and look for our keys – even if they are right in front of us on the table, the brain may not necessarily process this since the dominant eye is focusing on the larger environment. When we are looking for something in a stressed mode we can look at it but not necessarily see it.
Alternatively, when items are always put back in their designated homes, the brain is more likely find them, regardless of whether or not you are in stress mode. We can only handle so many decision in a given moment, so having your space organized allows for you to use your brain power more efficiently. It will become apart of your muscle memory if you make it a habit to put items back in their designated homes. You end up saving time and are happier when you walk out the door in the morning.
3. Positive Connections with Your Physical Space
There is a deep relationship between internal and external organization. Internal organization – emotions, feelings, memory, connections – happen in the limbic system, or emotional centre of the brain. This is the area of the brain where we understand our relationship with people and things around us and how we connect to them. Is your internal organization represented in your outer world? Does your outer world support your inner world?
One weekend, I had the privilege of working with a 9 year-old on confidence for school. We did activities that supported balancing her emotions and feelings about herself in her classroom. Monday morning, this little one woke up and told her parents: “I’m not going to school today so I can process.” That day, she proceeded to take everything out of the kitchen cabinets, pantry and drawers and re-organized EVERYTHING!
Tuesday morning, processing complete, this little one got up, got ready and went to school. Since that day, she has been confident in school, so much so that the teacher noticed immediately. And yes, her mom was so grateful to have the kitchen organized!
A friend was living with her sister, when the sister died suddenly. My friend held on to so many of her sister’s things in an attempt to stay connected with her. Over time, the items began feeling heavy, and the grief was never really dealt with. She was holding on tight to her memories. Recently, she began purging and letting go of these belongings, and at the same time releasing her heart and opening up space in her life.
Working on one aspect, will change the other. Deciding which to work on first – internal or external – is a personal choice. It also depends on what has happened or is happening in your life. Do you require letting go of things in your physical space to begin the internal shift or do you need to connect with yourself first?
Overall, having an organized space allows you to be calmer and more focused in your day to day routines, saves you time, is better for your overall health.
About Tanya Mouland, Brain Gym Instructor, Educational Kinesiology consultant and Blomberg Rhythmic Movement Consultant:
I am fascinated by the brain, and how accessing brain potential begins with movement. Retraining the brain also requires movement. My practice uses a powerful combination of movement-based modalities – Brain Gym/Educational Kinesiology, Blomberg Rhythmic Movement – to release fight or flight patterns locked in the body and to integrate reflexes for whole brain access and a balanced body.
Client success stories include: assisting children and teens develop their ability to connect with others to build friendships and improve relationships with siblings; overcoming anxiety; confidence in academic skills; releasing stress patterns in the body to eliminate pain and headaches and address trauma.