I learned about Emotional Intelligence at a conference I recently attended. As part of the session, my emotional intelligence was evaluated. One of the most surprising things I discovered about myself as a result of this process is that I have low stress tolerance. This was surprising to me because I seldom feel as though I have a lot of stress in of my life, which made me think I actually do a good job of tolerating it. After all, since it’s nearly impossible not to have stress in one’s life, yet I don’t feel burdened by it, I must be able to tolerate it well, right?

While not exactly – as it turns out, I do a good job of putting systems in place to prevent me from experiencing stress rather than actually being able to tolerate a high level of stress. I almost viewed this as a sign of weakness, but then realized that it doesn’t matter as long as I have tools that work for me. The one tool that’s most important is my ability to stay organized. So how does being organized help me reduce stress? Let me count the ways:

1.I don’t waste time or get frustrated looking for things (not often, anyway) because everything in my home and office has a place where they belong and I make sure I or my family members put them there.
2.I plan my next day the day before so that nothing falls through the cracks and the most important task gets accomplished before the day has a chance to get away from me.
3.I have routines for household chores, so that I’m never desperately hunting for clean clothes or frantically trying to figure out what’s for dinner at the last minute.
4.I only buy things I need, so I’m not wasting time shopping, returning, cluttering, etc. When I bring something new into my home, I put it away right away so I can find it when I need it.
5.Because I get things done when they need to be done, I have time to recharge my batteries by spending time with friends and family.
6.Reestablishing order in a space (e.g., straightening up the linen closet, cleaning out the junk drawer, etc.) gives me a sense of control and calm that I may not be experiencing elsewhere in my life.

I’m not the only one who finds organizing to be a great way to manage stress. When asked at a staff meeting, “How do you manage stress?” my sister responded, “Organizing a drawer or cabinet.” – I guess it runs in the family. I had a client whose home was in total disarray, and at our first appointment she wanted to organize her food storage container cabinet. The next time we got together, she told me that when she was feeling stressed and overwhelmed, she just had to open that cabinet and look at the neatly ordered containers to feel an immediate sense of calm.

While we may not be able to eliminate stress from our lives, it’s definitely important to find ways to manage it so it doesn’t negatively impact our health or quality of life. What do you do to manage stress in your life? Have you found that organizing can be a great stress reducer?

Wishing you simplicity, harmony and freedom,

Author's Bio: 

Internationally known professional organizer, author, and speaker Sue Becker is the founder and owner of From Piles to Smiles®. She enjoys helping people from around the world live better lives by creating customized systems to overcome their overwhelming paperwork, clutter, and schedules. She specializes in helping people who are chronically disorganized - those for whom disorganization has been a lifelong struggle that negatively impacts every aspect of their life, especially people with AD/HD. Her hands-on help, as well as her presentations, have helped thousands of individuals create substantial change in their lives.

Sue is Illinois’ first Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization. She co-authored the book Conversations on Success, and has appeared as an organizational expert on NBC News and the national TV show, Starting Over. A CPA, Sue has an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.