This is an updated post originally published on 11/08/11. Affiliate links included.
Do you ever find yourself screaming internally for order? I love a good routine but life happens and it’s important to be flexible. Here are my tips to organize your thoughts in 3 steps.
I recently spent 30 minutes on my head trying to get 26 alphabet magnets out from underneath the refrigerator. Once all the magnets were present and accounted for an amazing thing happened. My son is actually playing with them again!
This got me thinking. What is it about organization that makes things more accessible? Even to a toddler, it seems like when the playroom is clean and all of the toys are where they belong, he is more content to play alone. When his toys are scattered, he requires much more of me to help him figure out what to do.
It’s the same for adults, of course. I am most productive when there is some sense of order in the world around me. When things start feeling upside down, so goes the neighborhood (so to speak). And it’s been that way – upside down – for a little while. I feel like I am starting to get a grip though and I feel good again about my direction.
What I’ve learned is that living within boundaries is more freeing than “being free”. I ‘m much more liberal with the word no and more committed to the word yes. I am getting organized, folks.
3 Steps to Organize your Thoughts
As soon as you can find an hour or two, jot down a master “life schedule”. This plan has everything on it from daily chores to writing commitments, and kids’ schedules etc. This means I know when I can (or can’t) put something off or reschedule. I am able to be realistic about my time and what is required of me so I don’t burn out. I like to do this for at least a month at a time so I truly know my limitations.
This also means getting comfortable with the word, “no” and using it whenever necessary. Even fun things need to have their place. Burnout isn’t fun for anyone and affects everyone around us.
There are a few things I know about myself, one of them being I need to have a deadline. Even a self-imposed deadline is helpful for me. So I set goals and work backward from the end of the year to see how I can meet them. Some are professional, some are personal, but I know what they are and how I can realistically make them happen. I also know what needs to wait until next year.
Now, that’s not to say I am kicking butt. It just makes things realistic. I can’t expect to lose 20lbs by Christmas if I am only working out once a month, right? When I think a few weeks ahead and work backwards, I am amazed at how much I can accomplish.
Slowing down is hard for me. I tend to have two speeds; full steam ahead and coast. I am not a pacer for sure. I am either going full out or I am crashing big time so I have to force myself to slow down a bit, know when to say NO and really only focus on the things that will allow me to meet my goals.
This is where the schedule comes into play because I can look a the calendar and see that the next 3 days will be crazy, so today really is a great time to take that nap or hit the gym.
Of course, I am still working on sticking to my big plan, but the fact that I have this sort of “blueprint” in my head really helps me level out. Sticking to this system really has been one of the most helpful things I have done for myself in a long time.
So if you’re seeing this and feeling completely overwhelmed with your life, remember you are not alone! Then take a few minutes and create your blueprint. Once you start checking boxes, that big sigh of relief will feel amazing. I just know it!
Know someone who could use this encouragement?
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