Organizing is such a visual endeavor that we often forget to employ the other senses. You’ve got to get the visible messes and chaos cleared before you can do so, but using the senses of smell, hearing and touch can really take your organizing to a whole other level.
What I often see is someone who is struggling with chronic clutter or a shopping addiction use information like this as an excuse to go out and purchase something like a scented candle. Please don’t! Until your main clutter and disorganization issues are dealt with, adding a candle into the mix is only a fire hazard. Discipline yourself to use the following ideas as rewards and refinements, not as shopping opportunities and procrastination tools.
When you’re ready to clean all your wonderfully clear surfaces, stop a minute to consider your sense of smell. Maybe you would like to move on from the old school “clean but chemical” smells of ammonia and bleach or the natural but nasty smell of vinegar. There are lots of natural alternatives scented with lavender, geranium or citrus. You might prefer something unscented.
If I’m using scent in a space, I like to keep it consistent. If I’m using lavender laundry soap I will use lavender scented products in other areas as well. You probably wouldn’t mix a Watermelon scented shampoo with a tobacco scented perfume and a eucaplyptus deodorant, and the home can be thought of in the same way. Layer and complement the scents.
A nice touch to signal “finished” when a space has been cleaned and organized is to light a candle or incense. Some of my favorite homes to visit have signature scents, like the incredible Diptyque Figieur. I have trouble spending almost $100 on a candle, and there are some really excellent ones out there for less, but if Diptyque is in your budget, they create long burning candles with clean, memorable fragrances.
Sound is another really important element in organizing and often it doesn’t involve adding anything more than a Bluetooth speaker and a Spotify or Apple music subscription. Once you’ve got the physical clutter handled, make some play lists to accompany various tasks or occasions. You might do an upbeat party mix, a mellow evening mix, an outdoor BBQ mix, a mix to clean the house by, a raking leaves mix. When I can’t get motivated, I turn on the music and it works every time.
You also want to think about the sounds that grate on you. Squeaky door hinges, a too loud refrigerator that might need replacing, an alarm clock that jolts you out of sleep and starts your day with an abrupt, unpleasant sound—what can you address in your environment so that when you need a quiet space to work you can create it? I recently switched from my iPhone alarm, with its basic selection of awful sounds, to a silent “sunrise” alarm that gradually wakes me up with increasing light. It’s a revelation—my mornings are much more productive and pleasant and I’m remembering my dreams much more easily than when I was using my harsh phone alarm.
Take a look at the textures in your organizing supplies and in general. Are your dish towels pleasant to look at, absorbant, unsmelly? How’s the feel of your bath towels and sheets? Are your file folders thick and sturdy or thin, floppy and sad? Do you want to mix up the textures in your supply shelves or cupboards, maybe switching from cardboard to linen covered magazine caddies or mixing woven textures with sleek melamine containers? Color is not the only thing to think about when getting to the aesthetic part of clutter-busting. In fact, you will probably want to use something more often if it feels good in your hands.
Don’t forget to use your sixth sense too. Check in with your “spidey sense” of intuition to identify where you can up-level your organizing. You’ll be able to smell, hear and touch the difference.