Friday, March 18, 2016

Living Happy #17: Get Organized

One thing that makes a lot of people feel unhappy is that feeling our life is out of control.  That feeling we're behind and we'll never get caught up.  And when we look around, all we see are things that need to be done.  When things get out of control like this, we wind up spending more time wondering where to get started than it would take us just to get a handle on it.  And we find ourselves overwhelmed, stressed out, and burned out.  And the majority of the problem is too much stuff--too much stuff on our calendars, and too much clutter in our life. 

Maybe it's time for a serious spring cleaning.  Maybe it's time to finally get organized.  It's time to do away with that clutter, and then clean up that calendar.

Valerie and I just went through a major reorganization project over the winter.  It didn't start out intentionally--our little girl outgrew her bed and needed a big girl bed.  We quickly realized there was no room for it because of all her junk.  We went through her room and tossed and pitched, and cleaned out drawers and closets.  When we got done, we had plenty of room for a little princess bed.

One thing we learned while we were cleaning her room is that when we went to move some of her things into another closet, we had a little issue--all of our closets were just as full as hers were.  So the massive cleaning project started in Katie's room and swept our house like a prairie fire. 

We went through our closets and got rid of anything we didn't need.  We donated sacks and sacks of clothes we no longer wear.  My rule was if I hadn't worn it in six months I probably didn't need it--after going through that closet I realized there was stuff in there I hadn't worn in six years (or more).  I found stuff in the back of my closet I didn't even remember owning.  We did the same in closets and drawers all over the house.  For several weeks we probably weren't the favorite stop on the garbage route.  We got rid of towels with holes in them, broken fishing poles, and outdated electronics (some of which you can get cash for).  I donated boxes and boxes of paperback books.  A week later I went back and hit all those closets and drawers a second time, and found that I was able to toss out a lot more on the second pass.  I can't even describe the feeling of liberation I got from getting rid of all that old stuff.  I'm still not used to being able to open the coat closet and not have the vacuum fall out of it.

Once you get your stuff under control and your house in order, start looking at your calendar.  Start figuring out where you're spending your time, and ask yourself if you're getting value out of the time you're spending doing that activity.  I've recently pulled back from a lot of my Masonic groups.  There just isn't time to do it all, and what winds up happening, is I wind up doing a bad job when I'm spread so thin.  And then I feel bad about doing a bad job.  It wasn't easy, but I've cut down on the things I'm going to be active in going forward.  In fact, I've cut down so much I may have time to be involved in something I haven't had time to be really check out yet--I'm going to have to dust off that red fez.

You just can't be happy if you always feel like your life is a mess.  Take some serious time and get organized.  Get that stuff you no longer need out of your life so that you're only dealing with the stuff that you do need.  Then do the same thing with your calendar.  Take some time and look at where you're spending your time and effort--is it taking you where you want to go?  Are you accomplishing what you set out to accomplish in the beginning, or have you gotten sidetracked over time?  If it's the latter, get back on the path.

It's good to be busy--the question is, are you accomplishing anything worthwhile?  

~Todd E. Creason

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