Get Organized By Doing Less: De-Clutter & De-Stress
Something that is so common to hear among young people, new professionals, or even adults, is this question of, “When will I have my life together?” #StruggleBus, amirite? I’ve asked this question myself before. I used to be there frequently, a place of frustration with what I perceived to be a lack of control and feeling consistently behind, even though I had all of the planners, all of the notebooks, all the apps, and all the things that were supposed to make life easier. The multi-compartment work bag, the cell phone with all the tools and reminders. Printouts and PDF’s galore for things that were supposed to help me out. All the stuff. All the things. All the time. That's what I thought I needed to be organized. But did any of it suddenly make things easier? Nope. In fact, adding on more actually made things worse.
Your Physical Space Reflects Your Inner Space
I took a look at a few things on a day where I was feeling particularly disheveled. My living space, work bags, apps, work binder, and computer. I noticed something really interesting. They were all the same, all slightly a mess, all just barely functioning as they should, and overloaded with stuff. My computer desktop was littered with folders and files, bags stuffed with papers and receipts, and my physical environment was cluttered to match. I'm not really a messy person by nature, I love a nice clean space, but when I'm bogged down, it all goes out the window. So, these things completely matched the overall tone that I was feeling, overwhelmed and performing to the bare minimum. Just making it work. There’s a word I use for this, and it’s what I call being scrappy. Sometimes being scrappy is a very good thing, and it can even be fun, because it means just going for it and creatively being able to adapt to a changing situations when things get thrown off kilter. So it’s a good thing under the right circumstances. But consistently feeling that way and being exhausted by it means that something needed to change.
The Concept of Less
So I asked myself this question the other day. "How can I get more organized?" And then I had a big lightbulb moment. It wasn’t about adding on another system, another planner, another tactic or strategy, it was about less.
Holding onto less, having less, keeping less, doing less.
If you imagine that everything you hold onto sticks to you and follows you around wherever you go, would you still hang onto the same things? The problem is that I didn't realize that was the problem. I had internalized the problem as interpreting that something must be wrong with me, that things were a mess, and that equated to failure. I think that can cross over to all of us as human beings. We might notice an icky feeling in our day to day lives or in our workspace, but not realize where that icky feeling is really coming from, so we internalize it and way too easily come to a conclusion that it must mean something’s wrong with us, or we’re just disorganized and unmotivated by nature, and that's just who we are. But that’s B.S. and just not true at all.
Ask the Question, What Can I Let Go Of?
When a system is clogged up, doing anything with that system is gonna be a chore. It'll feel difficult and sludgy. There’s stuff in the way hindering it from working as seamlessly as it could. Allow me to introduce a plumbing scenario: when a shower drain is clogged, adding any more water is gonna flood the tub. So that that doesn’t mean to go out and just buy another bathtub to put on top of the one that’s already there. Or don’t go out and get another planner, or another app, or another bulletin board/tool to tack on top of what you've already got going on and toss all that in the tub, too.
It’s important to get rid of whatever is in the way and deciding to only use the tools you really love. In doing this, you nurture yourself and make feeling good while you work a priority, and this will naturally bring to your attention the things to let go of, and the things that will work for you instead.
Notice How You Feel
It’s not a secret anymore that our personal energy impacts the way we live in every aspect. I’m a huge fan of this topic. This principle is seen in books like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and in alternative practices to improve the energy of spaces like with crystals or Feng Shui, and even with visualization or law of attraction techniques.
So if you are feeling stuck, scrappy, or like you are consistently behind, take a look at your work space, your home, your environment, your belongings, your emotions, and ask if there is anything you can let go of to make things easier.
Does your environment consistently parallel how you’re feeling? Does your work bag look exactly like how your emotional state feels right now? Let that connection empower you to make a change. If things aren’t working, it’s not about feeling down about yourself, doing more, or piling more on top of what you already have going on, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with you. It may be that there's just too much on your plate, and therefore too much in your way from being your brightest and shiniest.
In this case, the answer simply revolves around letting go of things. Hold onto less, have less, keep less, do less. It's about moving the weeds out of the way so the garden can thrive. And a shout out to every human being on the planet, every professional, student, young person, or anyone who has ever felt like they’re drowning in their own lives, you are doing so much better than you think you are! It’s gonna get a whole lot better, and you’re doing just fine.