Your trashcan overflows with coffee cups, granola bar wrappers, and take-out containers. Laundry peppers your floor. Sunlight hasn't hit your desk's surface, covered in crumpled homework and desperately-scribbled sticky notes, in months.
Maybe your excuse for a messy room is lack of time, or maybe your focus lies in other areas of life. You're in college, after all. You have big ambitions. Fixing the world, understandably, feels more important than fixing your room. But a cluttered bedroom, your immediate environment, is an indication of a deeper issue: a cluttered mind.
Dr. Jordan Peterson -- psychologist, leader of the intellectual dark web, and star of the "clean your room, bucko" meme -- explains the connection between the state of the bedroom and the state of the mind: "There's no difference between the chaos that's outside of you -- in a place that you spend as much time as you spend in your room -- and the chaos that's internal, psychologically."
In other words, your messy bedroom is a reflection of the mess inside your mind. And if you can't untangle your own chaos, how can you possibly fix the world around you? How can you take the speck out of another's eye when there is a log in your own?
"If you want to change the world," Peterson says, "you start from yourself and work outward because you build your competence that way."
Peterson, in his innumerable lectures and interviews, frequently refers to life as a series of puzzles. Some of these puzzles are within the realm of what you can solve on your own, and some of them are not. The problem occurs when you neglect the puzzles that you are capable of solving. "You have many puzzles in front of you that you could solve but you choose not to," Peterson explains. "Those are the things that weigh on your conscience."
You begin to "build your competence" by solving these puzzles, starting small. "You start to tell and act out the truth locally," Peterson says. You clean your room, and then your mind feels a little less cluttered. You fix yourself. Then you fix your family, and then you fix your job, building enough character along the way to "be a force for good instead of harm."
If cleaning up your room feels like too large of a task, break it up into smaller steps. I've found one method of ongoing maintenance that works particularly well for me. First thing every morning, I make my bed. This one small accomplishment initiates a chain of habits. Next, I tackle any visible clutter; that's the aforementioned overflowing trashcans and sea of laundry. Finally, I organize the hidden places, like the inside of my desk and closet, throwing out anything that no longer serves a purpose; clutter occupies both physical and mental space.
Try creating a cleaning system that works for you. The key is keeping up with maintenance and preventing clutter from accumulating in the first place. With your immediate surroundings under your complete control, you are ready to expand your domain of competence and begin to solve the next puzzle.
Peterson lays out a set of further suggestions for fixing yourself and your conscience: "Schedule your time. Start taking control of yourself. See if you can stop saying things you know to be lies … stop saying and doing things that make you feel weak."
Think of the things that make you feel weak, like clutter or dishonesty, and take control of them. You have the power to begin to fix yourself -- to change your habits and thought processes -- at any time. You can become a "force for good," but first you must untangle your own inner chaos. What's the first step? Clean your room, bucko.