Another thing that is helpful when life's various assaults hit us hard, is to be organized. When we have too much clutter, too many demands, too many things scheduled, too many obligations, too many of anything we become overwhelmed. Once overwhelmed have no extra reserves to bounce back to center. There can be such a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. We forget that much of the disorganization is part of our own doing. If we contributed to it, we can also reverse the situation.
Being organized is subjective to your personality and temperament. There is a spectrum of disorganization on which some people can withstand more disorganization than another. For those people leaning more towards the obsessive compulsive side, a kitchen sink not wiped out dry with every use is considered a major stressor. While others on the hoarders side of the continuum see nothing amiss with cardboard boxes and newspaper piles stacked over the entire area of the living, dining, kitchen and bedrooms. No matter what is the trigger, eventually the clutter and disorganization will impact one's outlook and outcomes.
There have been studies that children and older individuals (ones with dementia) do well with the concepts of simplicity and organization for the simple fact that it causes less stress whether one recognizes it as such. When I was designing wellness programs for companies, many of the speakers on stress would talk about organizing one's workspace and keeping it (relatively) clutter free. It takes a lot of time and energy to try and find things when there is much to look through and things are not easily found.
Same can be said of our home keeping. Having a home that is organized with our stuff makes things so much easier. Even if chaos is swirling around us, we can rest among some semblance of peace and tranquility. Organization can spill over to how we plan our calendars, our meals, and our days.
Here are just a few suggestions that might help you get started in an effort to be organized:
- Make your bed in the morning. I heard a pretty highly ranked military man speak to a college graduation and his one word of advice, "make your bed every morning." The idea is that you have accomplished one thing already in your day. A bed is the largest piece of real estate in your bedroom. When it is unmade, it makes everything else disorganized. But once made, you can go forth knowing you already did something for the day plus you will have a more restful sleep that night with smooth sheets and blankets.
- Get rid of 1/4 of your stuff. Most people have way too much junk in their houses. I know that we do. If, God forbid, we had a fire and most of our stuff were ruined, I probably wouldn't replace it. Telling huh? I try and routinely go through sections of the house with a ruthless eye, "If I lost this in a fire, would I replace it?" If the answer is no and it is something that isn't useful or beautiful- out it goes.
- One thing in, one thing out. My mother-in-law has had this rule. For anything she brought into the house, she got rid of something from the house. Makes sense when you have limited space.
- Straighten your desk before you leave work for the day. You will come into your space the next morning prepared to tackle the day.
- Take time each week to plan the following week. This might include your food menu for the following week, your work schedule, items to complete on your to- do list. You should also put down your plan for balancing the needs of others (volunteer times) and your needs (your activity that brings you joy). If you are still in the mode of changing your exercise, eating and sleeping habits, add that to your weekly plan. Part of being organized is to let wiggle room in your schedule. Give yourself permission to not have the day completely jammed packed. You can always fill it up, but it is more difficult to eliminate things that take your time.
- Keep under notes all things pertinent and important. There are many different systems out there to help in organization of lists and files- charts, apps, documents, etc. If you google "organizing important documents" you can find one that fits your needs, personality and budget. Can be as simple as a piece of paper with a list kept in a folder. The point is to keep in one place the information of important documents: Doctors names and contact information. Prescriptions. Medical history. Passwords. Financial information. Tax information. Receipts for major purchases.
What about you? Do you feel overwhelmed with your schedule and obligations? What areas of your life? What do you need to do to get organized? What small steps can you take to achieve it? If you feel pretty organized in your life, what things do you do to stay organized?
Simplifying our lives and organizing what we have is another way to bolster our resilience to the onslaught of life. It is a way that we can bounce back like Bozo.