Decluttering and organising always seems like one of those tasks we dread - the pressure of dealing with our mess is too overwhelming and so we leave it for another day, week, month, until there's no choice but to face it. Perhaps that is because we have spent all that time trying to avoid our responsibility.
There are quite a few good reasons why it seems difficult to begin organising. Perhaps you have never properly organised before. The fact that you have not actually experienced a good organisation makes it unlikely for you to want to experience that feeling in your life. Another clear reason is you have too many things. Whether that be tasks or even possessions, the fact there are so many causes you not to want to do anything at all because it seems overwhelming. Additionally, organising in general takes time. With the many other activities and priorities in your life (friends, family, education, etc) organising is not really at the top of your list.
However, clutter can really affect both your physical and mental health. It can cause stress, fatigue, and even depression. Physically, it is clear to see how it can affect you; a cluttered home can cause fire hazards, dust, and even mould. Studies show that a clutter household is associated with your food choices as it makes you more likely to choose unhealthy foods over healthier choices.
However, with decluttering, it can help you sleep better, boost your productivity and even help you sleep better.
I often found myself adding more and more activities onto my things to do. I say this is because I am bored – really, I am just avoiding life’s responsibilities for me and thus I am stuck with a pile of tasks that I do not know where to begin with. Inasmuch as I do enjoy keeping myself busy, I realised having so many activities to work on confuses the brain more and causes you to, in fact, become more disorganised. I had to start finding effective ways for me to remain organised with all the tasks I set out for myself, whilst having some-time so that I do not crumble underneath all the stress and pressure of completing these tasks.
You may not know where to start with the organising. So here are a few ways which helped me organise my time and my life:
1. Think about your three most important tasks. I consider the three main priorities I need to achieve and I try to make sure that I focus my day around these three tasks. By doing so everything will start to fall into place.
2. Make yourself an easy and workable task/ to-do list. I often find myself breaking my day up into the simplest tasks such as “brush your teeth” and “eat breakfast” so that I can still reward myself and my body for the hard work it goes through day in and day out. If I keep these measures in place I can judge when I am overworking myself or not doing quite enough.
3. Colour coding. I find colour coding to be one of the most effective bits of organisation for me as I find it very pleasing and easy for me to pick out certain tasks or assignments if they are colour coded. Make sure the colour system works for you; sometimes you do not need to have too many colour variations for everything, just enough for you to differentiate the different tasks you have.
4. This one is quite important: Do one thing at a time. I know because I try to do so much, doing it all at the same time proves to be ineffective. So, finding one task to do first and completing that first before moving onto the next task.
5. Another quite important one: Do it now! Tomorrow will never come if you keep saying it so start doing it ASAP.
6. Simplify everything as much as you can. This relates to the second point. If you start to simplify tasks you start to notice how much easier it is to complete them.
7. Make sure there is a place for everything, and you have put everything in its place. By doing so, you have now organised and arranged specific places for your possessions and your mind will be organised with these allocated positions.
8. Put it away now. Relating to point seven, make sure whatever you use, you return as soon as you finish using it. That way you are remaining organised throughout your day and you do not need to overwhelm yourself with the thought of organising piles of stationary or books later.
9. Make use of the word no. Saying no to certain things helps you take control of your time and your priorities. You do not need to attend every event or social gathering that it is taking place. You do not need to help every friend or do every task if it is not required of you. Take time for yourself and have that break. There is no need to overwhelm yourself for tasks and activities that can be done later or are taking a big toil on your health.
Decluttering and organising can really seem like a big task when you do not know where to start but if you use some of these nine tips then perhaps it will become easier for you to start. The amount of stress, fatigue and other negative effects on your health will begin to reduce and you’ll start to see a change in your livelihood. Remember, if you can organise your time, you can organise your life.
I never quite thought being “strong” could be more belittling than the intention of a general compliment. Black women are often put on the pedestal of strength: a dystopian version of superwomen. Black women are meant to respond to life’s challenges by demonstrating this mass of strength and hiding any trauma they may face.
The question here is: where does this stereotype come from? The majority of this goes back to the mindsets that were created during slavery. When black men were snatched from their families, their wives were left to raise families on their own. Even after slavery ended, the U.S. Government’s “war on drugs” was used as a racist veil way to jail black men for the same non-violent drug offenses that were also by free white men. Throughout several points in American history, black families have systematically been placed in situations where black men were taken away, leaving black women to fend for themselves. The fact black women had to overwork themselves so much stole their feminine softness and instead of being humans, were treated as martyrs.
This “strong black woman” stereotype was embedded into my life from a young age, passed on through generations. My mother made sure I was not to show any weakness in the house; revealing that something upset you made you weak and vulnerable to others. Her response would be: “Is this how you would act if this happened to you in the workplace?” Or “Is this how you’ll always be?” It was not acceptable for me to allow myself to be frustrated or exhausted about work I had been struggling with as that could be seen not having the strength to overcome life’s hardships.
Other people’s opinions added to this stereotype. I always found myself being the strength of the friendship group – the one who had to hold everyone up even when I felt I did not have the strength to. When I did show that point of vulnerability, I was often looked at as if it were unacceptable for me to even begin feeling that way; others had to deal with more than me. So, I was left to silence my vulnerability and act as a pillar of stability for others.
It became a toxic expectation which eventually took a toil on my mental and physical health. By suppressing so much, I found myself neglecting traumatic events of my past as well as overlooking genuine health conditions I had started to develop. In fact, it became apparent that even doctors began to believe that black women could endure more pain than their white counterparts and thus were given less compassionate care or their issues were often overlooked.
I learnt that the “strong black woman” stereotype is not just a fault of social norms adopting this stereotype as a normality, by also us black women for allowing it to define use, and adopting it into our lifestyles subconsciously. It was specifically slavery and systematic racism robbed black women of their humanity. Therefore, it is understandable that the quickest way of reversing these effects is making sure what we ask others and the expectations we have of ourselves always maintains our shared humanity.
It is simple really: aspire to be treated as a human. Remaining bound by this outdated concept only brings more pain. If black women do not break the stereotype, who will make the move? If we are so-called “strong”, should we not have the strength to break a toxic expectation that has been normalised within society?
However, this should not be the sole responsibility of black women. Others must recognise how racism and sexism will continue to impact how black women and girls experience and receive healthcare. We should increase the number of those in the mental health sector who are culturally competent practitioners that are well trained to address and treat the trauma related issue that black women gain. In addition, we should encourage black women to address and perhaps release the burden of strength in some cases. It would be beneficial for both patients and healthcare providers to improve their relationship if the providers knew how to address violence at home, school, on the job and in neighbourhoods that typically influence a black woman’s wellbeing.
We should really be more conscious of how we approach black women. The toxic expectation of black women not only affects our health but also destroys society’s perception of what “strong” is. It stops black women getting the proper treatment they deserve, not only in health care but also in society. No, it is not a compliment to be a “strong black woman”, as if black women are the only demographic that can be strong. Why are these specific words put together in our times of vulnerability? We must not overlook a black woman’s pain for the strength that has been subconsciously associated with the colour of her skin and her gender. It is killing us.
As I patiently read the text messages my friend sent to me about the treatment he receives within his society at university, my mind wanders to what could cause them to act in such a disapproving way towards his character. Holding a management position within the society, polite and understanding, hardworking… You would think that there would be some sort of respect for what he provides. There was no reason for their behaviour when he asked, however each time my friend was assertive about what he disagreed with, it seemed to cause an argument. Even with his Caucasian counterparts expressing themselves in the same manner, there was never any disapproval towards their character, just his own. Was it the colour of his skin that threatened them so much? Could being the only black boy in that committee really be the reason for their behaviour?
Black people, especially black women, are snowed under the stigma that they are angry, aggressive, or violent. Simply disagreeing with the norm will stimulate this stereotype which clearly has no place with being at all factual. In fact, this stereotype – named the Sapphire – came from the 1800s to the mid-1900s. This was used to portray black women as sassy, emasculating and domineering. The caricature described black women as aggressive, loud and angry. It earned its name from the CBS television show “Amos ‘n’ Andy” relating to the character, Sapphire Stevens.
Many of the stereotypes that were created happen during the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and were used to help turn black people into commodities and give reasoning to the business of slavery.Unfortunately stereotyping is natural and automatic. For us, to make sense of the world, our mind takes mental shortcuts; categorising and seeing the world based on generalisations that are made from the information fed to us. Psychologists call these mental shortcuts heuristics. When something is still fresh in your mind, it is more like to influence how you think.
I have faced the forefront of stereotyping on numerous occasions, without even saying a word. The assumption that “all black people are angry” is simply not true and yet, it becomes so easy to be fearful of them, just by them being themselves. After a while, I started to notice myself becoming complacent with this stereotype. I would constantly try to reform myself – my speech, my tone, even my posture, just so I don’t come across in the way that is thought of me. I was being forced to become quieter and compliant, to the point I was afraid to speak my mind against anything in an educational, professional, or even social setting.
The moment I realised the stereotype had influenced my actions so much, I knew I had to write about this. The words “I don’t want to be seen as the angry black girl” slipped out mid-conversation to my Caucasian friend after he told me to be more honest with what I thought. Confusion washed over him as he asked, “what does that even mean?” I didn’t even know what it meant. I just said it. This was already engraved into how I behaved around others growing up and now I’ve become accustomed to it.
I learned that I was also allowing myself to become defined by this stereotype. However, this wasn’t something I could easily slip away from. For me to try to express my thoughts assertively, I would constantly be greeted by barriers blocking me from speaking my truth. I learned that the problem was rooted within the racial injustice systems already in place.
I wished the only advice that I had to give was “don’t assume”. However, it is deeper than just an assumption of black people. The act of stereotyping is natural and automatic. The only way we can work upon this is unlearning the stereotype. Reminding yourself constantly that this group of people are not a threat and you shouldn’t treat them as such. There is no easy way to go about how to tackle stereotyping however, you can learn more about how to be anti-racist. Creating awareness for what it is to be black is so important for others to change their perspectives, so these articles are written to highlight these struggles. Despite this, I know it will be a slow journey before we can change the mindset of everyone completely.
So, I tell my friend – 6’2, black boy, not sure of what to do – I tell him: “don’t let them think of you as the angry black guy.” I tell him to hold his peace, shut up and smile. Pretend he knows no better. If he does that, then at least they’ll have no reason to say anything against him. Even if unintentional, racial stereotypes will continue to exist and this is the harsh reality of being black.