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4 Ways to Better Living Through Organization

4 Ways to Better Living Through Organization

Getting organized is tough. I should know after two years of moving around in grad school. A lot of the time, I would get home from class at around eight or nine o’clock at night. Not having eaten anything since lunch, I usually elected to just toss my things (notebooks for class, papers to be graded, and handouts from talks that I’d been to) all over my living room and call it a day.

I’m sure many of you are in similar situations. Sure, getting organized is nice and your parents always made you clean your room, but who has time for that now? Well here’s the truth: you don’t have enough time to get organized because you aren’t organized!

Health and Organization

As it seems to be with everything that’s difficult, living an organized lifestyle can improve your health. Psychologists are saying that being organized can have a ton of health benefits. Basically, it’s like this: organizing your life creates less stress and a less-stressed mind is a healthy mind. When we organize, we reduce stress by identifying the areas of our lives that are out of balance, we increase our productivity, and we gain more control over our lives, rather than just feeling like we’re along for the ride.

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If that’s not enough, there’s some evidence that just getting organized itself has therapeutic qualities.

That’s the why, but, as they say, knowing is only half the battle. Here are some great tips on how to get organized.

1. Organize Responsibly

Although not quite an organization tip in its own right, this is still hugely important. Too often, it’s tempting to just throw every loose item in the trash and call it a day. Do not do this! Your junk can still do some good for someone else. If you’re not quite sure what to do with your clutter, here’s a great guide on how to declutter and do good.

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Not only does decluttering responsibly help others, it also helps you. By dividing up your organization projects into specific domains (e.g. today’s an old clothing day, today’s a recyclable paper day…) you can start to manage your workload like an organizing pro!

2. Plan a Major Offensive on Your Clutter

While you’re no General Eisenhower and your home is likely not a beach in France, you can still benefit from planning a major attack. If you’re like me, then your clutter isn’t likely to budge without a serious decluttering effort. One great way to do this is to join in on the annual spring cleaning fun, but really any time that you can sit down, seriously evaluate what needs to be done, make a plan to get organized, and execute it is great. And just like the Allied powers, you don’t have to do all of that at once.

3. Develop Tools to Stay Organized

Take comfort if you’re totally disorganized — it might not be entirely your fault. After all, it’s difficult to keep things straight when they naturally want to spread out into a completely mess. In order to get organized and really stay organized, you need infrastructure in place to support your endeavor.

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Don’t worry, though. This isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Something as simple as a set of bins can set you straight. If you want to feel like a pro, try investing in a set of small lockers. Set a particular task or domain to a region of lockers and then get more specific for individual ones. For example, I teach music lessons and that involves me going back and forth between a lot of sheet music. I could set up a locker for early student method books, one for Classical era pieces, for Romantic sonatas, and so on. If you’re poor like me, then don’t worry. You can get old lockers at a discount if you’re thrifty.

4. Get Rid of Big Items

We’ve all got them — heavy pieces of junk that we can’t seem to get rid of. For some of us, it’s an old fridge that stopped working last summer, a collection of old televisions from the ‘90s, or a cheap department store dresser that has since turned into a heap of particle board plans. For my parents, it was a second washer and dryer set that just sort of… existed in the laundry room for about a decade.

Whatever’s holding you down, don’t be afraid to get some help to get it taken care of. Not every decluttering project is one that you have to tackle all by yourself.

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These are some of my tips for following the science and getting healthy through organization. Let me know how your decluttering projects go!

Featured photo credit: freestock.org via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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