by Kathy Zering
Feeling a bit out of control these days, like most working professionals? Whether it’s work or personal stuff, the fast pace and demanding times we live in now can make life seem overwhelming.
Taking back control with simple, consistent steps can get you feeling better quickly: calmer, less stressed and more empowered.
The key is doing something each day for lasting results. Keep reading to learn how to use these strategies for your highest benefit.
The strategies are about getting organized using a two pronged approach: organized from the inside out, and organized from the outside in. Address the issue from both directions and you’ll get to where you want to be going (your goals) even faster.
Getting organized from the inside out
Getting organized from the inside out is about organizing your thoughts, beliefs, and ideas in your mind.
Experts estimate that the mind thinks between 50,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day. That’s an average of 2,100 – 3,300 thoughts per hour. That’s a remarkable number of thoughts.
Many of these are subconscious and repetitive thoughts: they’ve become efficient over time and run automatically. These are the thoughts that benefit us and lead to actions like walking, breathing, typing, driving a car, opening a door, etc. We don’t need to concern ourselves with these thoughts; they serve us well.
The thoughts we want to organize are the ones that don’t serve us. If you’ve ever meditated or even tried to study or focus on a work task, that’s when you become aware of the many irrelevant thoughts trying to get your attention.
They may be habitual and seem harmless, but a little deeper digging can bring these thoughts to the surface, to your conscious mind where you are now aware of them.
Once you’re aware of them, then you can ask some questions and determine if they are leading to poor results or sabotaging you from achieving your goals.
These thoughts may be creating feelings and beliefs, like fear, that are not supporting the dreams you have for your life.
Then we have new thoughts that we are aware of in the moment, like opinions or judgements about what’s happening now, or in the past or future.
These may be helpful, like thoughts about how to prepare for an upcoming staff meeting you’re leading, what you still need to do to prepare, when to schedule those tasks, and what the agenda will be.
Or you may have new thoughts that don’t serve you. It could be a negative thought that’s detrimental to your continued growth and development in life.
How to organize the mental noise and constant chatter
There are so many tools to help organize your mind and thoughts. What’s most important is to find a tool that works for you and stick with it.
Try one of my suggestions here, daily for at least 21 days straight. If you’re beginning to notice some positive shifts, keep it going.
A daily Thought Release each morning can really put things into perspective. Take about 5 minutes or more to write down your thoughts. Every single thought that crosses your mind: just observe the thought and write it down and move on to the next one. Its stream of consciousness writing, you’ll be writing the whole time. Some people call it a brain download, brain dump, thought download or even Morning Pages as described by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way.
I like to call it a Thought Release process because I picture the thought being released from my mind as I write them in my journal. Most are unnecessary and don’t serve me, and are just clogging up the mind.
Another thing to try is reviewing these daily Thought Release thoughts and replace any repetitive negative thought with a better, more positive one.
Awareness of these thoughts is the first step, and then asking questions about it is step two. Is this thought even true (especially if a judgement)? Is it serving you? Is it helping you in some way? Do you really need or want it? Is it time to let it go and release it? Can you replace it with a better, more positive thought?
Lastly, meditation is a practice I encourage all of my clients to adopt. Meditation teaches you how to be still, to become more focused, and to lessen the stream of thoughts running through your mind.
It brings calmness, a sense of inner peace and more happiness to all aspects of your life, when practiced consistently. Read more about meditation and morning routines here.
Getting organized from the outside in
Getting organized from the outside in is organizing your external surroundings – your space. It involves organizing your home, your office or desk, and even your car.
This helps you live intentionally and have a physical space where every single thing in that space serves you. It has a purpose.
I’m an organized person. I don’t leave things laying around, and I don’t have closets or a garage full of things I’ve never used. I know many people who never use their garage to park their car because it is stuffed full of things they’ve never used or maybe used once, years ago. There’s so much stuff the car won’t fit.
Despite how organized I felt I was, last year I made an intentional commitment to organize myself even more. I went through the process I’m about to share here, and came up with 15 bags of things to donate – 15! And that’s not including items that were either thrown out or sold.
By going through this exercise, I knew I’d get benefits from it, but didn’t realize just how great I would feel.
You see, it’s not simply the removal of the physical items. It is the energy of those items, of that clutter and disorganization, and what it represents. Removing it impacts on your emotional and mental wellbeing too.
People say they feel lighter, obviously more organized and less stressed. They know what they have in their house or office or car, and can easily find it.
It’s easier to get ready in the morning when the closet it organized and you can see all the potential outfits you’d like to wear that day. The clutter is gone too, taking up space. All the duplicate pens, pencils, paperclips and rubber bands from desk drawers that are unnecessary – how many does a person need? I knew someone who had 8 pairs of scissors and 4 boxes of tacks – in one desk.
The kitchen is another area that could have a lot of items you never use. Tupperware and other plastic containers that are looking a little over used or that may have been used once 3 years ago, extra utensils that can be donated, and even pots, pans, serving bowls and platters that you don’t currently and never will use.
When people declutter and get organized, they feel more at peace when in these rooms, seeing everything in its place and even empty space in drawers and closets.
Benefits of getting organized
The empty space in shelves, drawers and closets is symbolic of making room for new opportunities to present themselves. That idea alone can provide the motivation you might need as you sift through all the shoes in your closet and hesitate giving up that new-ish pair of boots you paid so much money for, that hurt your feet every time you wore them (not serving you).
Another benefit of organizing your space is the sense of contribution you get. Knowing that you’ve only kept what is still useful to you, and that other people can now enjoy the items you donated.
That sense of contribution and sharing is very uplifting and makes donating these items an easier task, especially for things you may have an emotional connection to or that remind you of a cherished memory. For example, I had a whole boxful of stuffed animals that my mother collected that I received after my Mom passed away years ago. They were sitting in that box, unused, in great shape for years until last year. I decided to keep a couple of them and the rest were donated. Hopefully some children can enjoy and play with them now.
Now it’s your turn to take action
Now it’s your turn. I challenge you to take back some control in your life by getting organized. From the inside out, commit to the following:
- Daily thought release every morning as described above. Set a timer for 5 minutes or more and get those thoughts out. And if your mind races at night, thinking about work or worrying about everything, try the thought release exercise before bed too.
- If you notice you’re having a lot of negative thoughts during this daily thought release that don’t serve you, take some time to replace them with positive ones. For example, if you have a lot of thoughts about all the things at work that stress you out, write about how your work is serving and helping other people. Or if you keep thinking about a coworker’s negative comments to you, write one positive thing about that person.
- If you don’t already have a morning routine that addresses organizing your mind and thoughts, learn more in my blog called Connect to Success Every Day for Best Results where you can also get access to my Connect to Success Morning Routine Tool to use every day.
From the outside in, commit to the following:
- Block out one hour on your calendar for this weekend and select one part of your house, or car, or office/desk to organize. It’s best to take everything out of the closet or drawer or area, then look at each item and ask yourself some questions: when is the last time I used this, or wore this? If not within the past year, let it go. Does it make me happy? Does it serve me? Would someone else enjoy this more? Is it outdated (clothing, etc.)?
- Set a goal to organize one area every week. And then pay attention to the changes that follow.
Look for larger shifts that can occur after getting more organized.
For me, I felt like being more social. It included getting out more, meeting new people, taking day trips, and networking more with other business owners. It opened up space and energy for these new things.
Organizing the mind also opens up space and energy for you to be more aware of your thoughts, beliefs, and emotions too. You can discern which ones are or aren’t helpful, and then organize them and release the unhelpful ones.
Getting organized is a very powerful tool that increases your emotional intelligence and supports personal growth, and provides a sense of fulfillment and peace in the long term.
I’d love to hear about the progress you’ve made and the positive shifts you’re experiencing as a result of getting organized. Let me know in the comments.
Photo by Douglas Sheppard on Unsplash
by Kathy Zering
It’s that time of year again – the holidays! If you’re like most people, it can be one of the most stressful times of the year.
Are you missing a loved one this year? The holidays seem to amplify that feeling of loss and sadness.
We may think of the quirky things they did, like my Mom always burning the Thanksgiving dinner rolls – every year! We even joked about that at her funeral.
After my grandparents died, we’d always remember them in a prayer before our holiday meal, and I witnessed how upset all the adults at the table would get, many crying for a few minutes. It’s a very emotional part of the year.
And for our loved ones that we’ll be spending time with, family dynamics and challenges in certain family relationships could cause some stress.
And then we have the gift giving of the holiday season. It’s a main stressor that can bring up a lot of issues for people, like a perceived lack of money to buy gifts, not getting the right gift or worrying if someone gives you something and you have no gift in return, and don’t forget about shopping for gifts with crowded stores and long lines. Ah, the holidays.
Here are my 8 tips for a stress free holiday season:
1. Minimize your to-do list. Make your list and then go through each item and ask, “Is this really necessary? If I don’t do this, what will happen?”
Remove, simplify or delegate at least half of the items from your original list to avoid overstretching yourself. Set yourself up for success this season.
2. Shop early, and wrap gifts as you go. As a young adult for some reason I’d wait to go shopping on Christmas Eve, and remember feeling my blood pressure rising from trying to find gifts when most of the inventory was gone, and then staying up to all hours that night wrapping those gifts – so stressful, and so unnecessary.
If only I took this advice back then, to shop early and wrap as you go.
Bonus tip: put sticky notes on the wrapped gifts to remind you what’s inside, just be sure to take the notes off before you deliver the gift!
3. Buy food, don’t cook or bake. Shopping for ingredients, preparing the food, cooking every night for weeks after working all day – this is a recipe for exhaustion (pun intended).
Grocery stores, bakeries and the freezer department at the big discount retailers have delicious, pre-baked holiday appetizers, meals and desserts.
Or, you can even buy your whole meal already prepared at the grocery store to heat and serve, or make reservations at a restaurant and not have any cleanup involved.
The time and effort saved allows you to spend the holidays on more important and satisfying things, like visiting with family and friends and having meaningful conversations with those you love, instead of working in the kitchen and missing all the fun.
4. Or, if it’s not the holidays for you without home-made food, then plan to have finger food and appetizers, not a huge feast.
For me, there’s one dish we always had growing up and it’s just not Christmas without them: Polish pierogi. I found a European deli nearby that sells pierogi similar to the ones my grandmother made from scratch, and they’re so easy to prepare.
It’s easier on the cook and your guests will thank you when they don’t feel like they’ve overindulged.
You can even share the work by making it a pot-luck holiday event – I did that one Thanksgiving and it really took the pressure off me as the host.
5. Remember what the holidays are really about: a celebration of gratitude and love.
Gratitude for all the blessings we have and taking time to spend with your loved ones. Everything else comes in a distant third.
Consciously take time to appreciate all the abundance in your life: all the love, your health, your family, and your friends. Meditating, praying or journaling about this leading up to the holidays and during them is a daily practice.
Be an example to others throughout the season: hold the door for someone, smile at strangers, laugh and enjoy!
6. Ask for help. For many of us, including me, asking for help doesn’t come easy.
But don’t ignore the power in asking for help – there is no reason why you have to do everything on your own.
My mother never asked for help, until the night before and by that time she was in full-on panic mode, stressed out, lashing out, yelling, rushing around, and generally miserable.
Plan ahead, delegate as much as possible and don’t feel guilty about receiving help from others; instead remember that people want to help and don’t want to come over empty handed, so just ask them to bring a salad, or a dessert, or a particular side dish of theirs that you love, so you don’t have to shop for and make it all yourself.
The same goes for cleaning up. I hosted Thanksgiving a few years ago, and all my guests insisted I sit and relax while they cleared the table, put all the leftovers away, and washed and dried all the dishes! When everyone helps out, it’s easier and gets done much more quickly.
7. Take action to stay healthy. Listen to your body and keep a careful watch for any of these signs, and make immediate changes before they worsen:
- Not sleeping well, unable to fall asleep easily or not feeling rested when you wake up.
- Feeling irritable, moody and unhappy – snapping at people when they don’t deserve it.
- Exhaustion and fatigue – not just tired, but extremely tired to the point where you feel you can’t function or you need a nap in the middle of the day.
- Physical issues like headaches, stomachaches, joint pain, overall body achiness, and catching frequent colds and illnesses (a sign your immune system is low).
If you’re experiencing any of these, it’s a sign to slow down, figure out what could be the cause, and take steps to alleviate these symptoms. Some ideas are in #8….
8. Plan time to take care of yourself.
Don’t worry about having your house, your decorations, your food, everything – be perfect for everyone else’s benefit, at the expense of your physical and mental health.
Plan some time for yourself: it could be a walk outside, a yoga or exercise class, quiet time alone to meditate, a warm Epsom salt bath, or book an Energy healing or massage session.
It’s all about balance and this self-care is important for your wellbeing.
Sometimes, you must put yourself first so that you can be your best you for your family and friends this holiday season.
Use one or more of these tips and make it a wonderful holiday season to remember for years to come.
Photo by Freestocks on Unsplash