Rearrange Your Life: The Only Tip You’ll Ever Need to Stay Organized (No, Really)

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From the outside, my life looks neat and orderly. My business literally enhances other people’s lives, which in turn, affects how people feel. I surround myself with beauty all day everyday.

But I have a secret: My life has been — and still is — messy.

There’s not a single person who doesn’t fall into some sort of rut, hit an obstacle (or twenty) on their path to success, or establish patterns that hinder growth, not help. When you strip away the daily tasks and routine, ask yourself: Have I really changed, or am I doing some version of the same thing?

Evolving is tricky. And if you’re really evolving, it’s messy. As humans, we are put on this earth to change, grow, and learn, but sometimes our stubborn resolve keeps us right where we are: stuck in the merry-go-round of complacency, quitting, staying, or feeling insecure about anything and everything because we’re uncomfortable with the mess. Imagine learning how to embrace the mess as you’re working toward your vision. And then ask yourself: What does it really take to rearrange your life? Our lives are messy because our minds are messy. Our minds are messy because we feel we have to keep so much bottled and unexpressed. We are masters at holding anxiety, which contributes to feeling unclear and disorganized. When you take time to get clear with yourself and with others, you will find a sense of peacefulness. A foolproof way to ease the anxiety and begin to sort through the internal mess.

Just like shuffling around furniture can make you look at your space in an entirely new way, so can rearranging your life, and it begins here: Truthfully evaluate where you are and begin to clear the clutter from your mind.

Twenty years ago, multitasking didn’t really exist. When we drove, we focused only on the road. When we took a walk, there were no cell phones or iPods pumping information into our brains. When we went on a trip, we didn’t have email, texts, or voicemails keeping us chained to our obligations and never allowing us to fully unplug. When you went anywhere, people’s heads weren’t angled down looking at their phones.

Back then, we had the ability to free our minds, to ponder, to stand in a line longer than five minutes without getting uncomfortable and ripping our phones from our pockets to fill time.

We had the space to think, dream, and ponder. The space to sit with ideas or conflict. There wasn’t a quick fix or constant attention on who we are, where we were, what we looked like, who we were with, what we ate, what we thought about, etc. There wasn’t an obsessive compulsiveness to chronicle every second of our existence — or to watch or comment on everyone else’s.

There was this little thing called privacy.

But this is the world we live in now. And technology can be a wonderful thing. But when does it become an addictive tool of avoidance versus using it as a mechanism to move us forward faster? When you are spending all of your valuable time as a voyeur, how can you really get what you want and need from your own life? If your phone and to-do list have become justifiable ways to temporarily avoid the fear and anxiety you feel most of the time, it might be time to look a little deeper. Because staying organized in the “messiness” of today’s erratic thoughts makes it even harder to stay organized in the messiness of your home.

When you come home, do you really only think about what’s in front of you?

Do you really disconnect, pay attention to your partner, your child, a pet, or even yourself without checking email, making calls, and shooting off texts? How can you possibly handle everything else there is to be done when your mind is on a constant to-do loop that never ends?

Staying organized means placing your entire focus on one task at a time. Which is all your brain is designed to do anyway. If you are the master of orderly appearances and then open a drawer or a door only to have the entire contents of your home spill out, then it’s time to clear out the junk — both literally and figuratively

— and let yourself breathe.

If you want to feel different, then you have to start doing different things. This means putting your phone away when you are cleaning, rearranging, or working. This means completely disengaging from the computer while you fold clothes, make dinner, or have a conversation. If your attention is only at half-mast, then your life will only be half-focused.

Stop doing more than two things at once. Finish one task completely. Stop complaining about the same things over and over and take actionable steps to shift the messiness of your life to one of organization. All it takes is focus, discipline, and allowing yourself freedom of thought — unencumbered by technology — to obtain your focus, to ditch the messiness, and to say yes to the real life you want to live.

Lindsey Cavanaugh