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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 September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

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    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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