Seth Barham Design
Minimal and effective design, inspired by culture.

spartan wanderer

In Defense of Being a Neat Freak

I was going to start this out by listing a few people of historical import who were neat freaks like me, but I couldn’t find any, so there goes my interesting intro and accompanying ego boost. Anyway, if you know me well or have ever been in one of my apartments at any point, then you’ve come into contact with this part of myself. I like things tidy. Don’t confuse that with OCD, which can have a serious negative impact on your life. That’s not something I throw around casually to describe myself. Nope, just like being neat. 

Unfortunately, being neater than average has some weird stigmas attached to it, the first being that you have OCD, which sucks for people that actually have OCD. The next that I can readily think of is that your Spartan surroundings must be evidence that you’re a serial killer. I’m sure serial killers don’t need the added pressure to live up to this societal expectation when they’re busy enough evading the law. Although I don’t murder people for fun, I do think that it’s sensible to keep a tidy, well-organized living area.

Before you make fun of me and call me an uptight nerd, here are some advantages to being a neat freak that I enjoy on a daily basis:

1. I rarely lose things. 

When all your stuff is always where it needs to be, your chances of losing something are statistically lower. Hmm, where’s my phone charger? Unless I’m traveling, it’s in the wall or in my drawer. I don’t just think it’s there; I know it’s there. This cuts down on a lot of mental background noise of always wondering where x is and also saves time when I need to find x for whatever purpose. It’s already found! It may sound like I’m reaching, but this also saves money. I’m only paying to replace things because they’re broken and not because I lost them. 

2. I have a lot more space.

This somewhat obvious benefit is from a combination of my tidiness and my minimalist tendencies. Most apartments that I’ve lived in have not been the biggest, but as long as you ignore your impulses, avoid drunken Amazon shopping, and keep your space clean, you can make it work and give yourself enough room to breathe and thrive. More space also creates more possibilities. What once was a collection of empty Amazon boxes and beer bottles in the corner is now your new workout space!

3. Extra space creates good headspace. 

When you’ve got dirty clothes lying around, miscellaneous plates and cups, or an unmade bed, you kind of feel like a slob. At least I do, anyway. Cleaning up will simply make you feel better about yourself, despite how dire your predicament is. The more space you free up, the more positive you feel. This is one of the primary reasons that I clean as I go. It makes me feel good! Plus, there’s nothing more satisfying than finishing a long day of work and coming home to a clean house. 

4. I can focus better on the task at hand.

Having a clean workspace eliminates a lot of unnecessary distractions. Papers all over the place, empty cups, and other random desk detritus may not actively stop you from doing work, but they are visual distractions that can affect you on a subconscious level. Unfortunately for me, I’m hyper-aware of this stuff and almost can’t work until I take care of surrounding clutter. If you've been looking for ways to increase your productivity, the first step could be as simple as cleaning off your desk. And once you've done that, check out the Pomodoro technique

5. Cleaning is not a massive chore for me.

If you’ve considered changing your lifestyle and trying to be less messy, the initial deep clean is the hardest part. The next step is simply a matter of discipline. If you clean as you go, you will never have to face such a daunting level of mess again. Of course, if you're not the only one in your household, everyone needs to be on board for something like this to work. Even if you're not a weirdo like me that's on clutter like a hawk, a quick sweep through the apartment at the end of the week will keep you ahead of the mess. 

Less is less to clean

I suppose I should emphasize once more that I have such an easy time of it on the cleaning front because I'm a minimalist. It's a lifestyle change that has the potential to transform more than the state of your bedroom. Once I decided to part with all the stuff I had sitting around my apartment like artifacts in a museum with no practical use, several things started to happen. I had more room, I spent less money on impulse purchases, and my source of contentment began to switch from material things to life experiences. I still appreciate nice things, but I only actually buy them if they're useful. The next time you clean, consider how much stuff you have to clean around. Eliminating your broom's obstacles will save you time and set you off on a path where satisfaction in life is not tied to accumulating!