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A Simple, Organized Life

…so I can write ALL the words!

My overarching goal this year is to simplify my life so I have time and energy to focus on what I want rather than having my attention pulled in fifty other directions. It’s been my goal for a lot of years, and I have an inkling this might be one of your goals too. So today, let’s talk about some areas where life always seems to trip people up and a few resources to help us conquer these perpetual battles.

The world is complex and noisy and demanding, and nothing shows that quite as well as the news cycle and social media. In the last few years alone, the news cycle is enough to give you whiplash if you attempt to follow everything. And the way social media is designed, it feeds you just enough so you’re constantly coming back for more to get that dopamine hug. They want us addicted, and we’re easily sucked into this vortex of distraction that pulls us away from what we really want in our lives.

This is how I intend to pull away from the social-media timesuck.

  • Avoid social media until at least noon. I’ve disengaged alerts on my phone and computer until noon. That was easy thanks to Apple’s cross-device integration. It’s well worth the hassle of doing it on a device-by-device basis as well.
  • Check email when I’m ready rather than when it arrives. A lot of email leads me to a website to do a certain task, and once I’m online, I get sucked back into social media. Since turning off notifications, I no longer have emails buzzing and pulling my focus away. Let them build until I’m ready to tackle them.
  • I hope to use the Freedom app more liberally. Freedom allows you to block various websites, so if you’re a habitual Facebook checker, this app keeps you blocked at certain times.
  • And for those moments where I’m doing everything in my power to procrastinate, I use the FocusKeeper app. If you’ve never used the Pomodoro Technique to maintain your focus, this is a great tool. You can use an egg timer, but I prefer the app, and I love the paid app. It was well worth the $1.99 because I can program it to play music or rain or a number of other sounds during focus time as well as the short and long breaks. I tend to get hyper-focused, so the audio cue reminds me to take a break, which I need.

My house is currently an energy-suck because of clutter. What this boils down to is that I need less stuff. Right now, I can come home energized, ready to tackle all my projects, but the moment I walk into my messy writing studio, I’m drained.

I’ve started the KonMari™ method of tidying up the house. For years I’ve been using many of the tips outlined in Marie Kondo’s book, like the way she suggests folding clothes, storing them upright, and organizing by type and gathering like items in smaller containers. So it’s not a huge leap. I’m a huge proponent of regular purging. The more stuff in my house, the more energy I have to put into those things rather than putting it where I want it.

But I’ve never done a big purge all at once or in the order she suggests. Yesterday I started on the clothes.

I’m all for trying something new, so I’m excited about this. The two times in my life where my house worked for me instead of me working for it were when John and I put half our belongings in storage. In grad school, we lived in an efficiency apartment, so we had to use storage. The second time was when our house was on the market.

It was shocking how much better our lives flowed with less stuff, and for years we’ve been trying to get back to that place. I’m hopeful this will help.

I actually have a closet (my tool/utility/mailing & wrapping supplies) closet I named The Stress Closet. After ditching the toolbox with a handle for one with drawers, that’s a lot better, so I know a well thought-out system is helpful.

ABFOL-file-system

Two years back, I tackled the perpetual paper mountain that piled on every available surface between the mailbox and the recycling bin. I incorporated the color-coded category filing system I learned about over at A Bowl Full of Lemons.

This system gives you strong visual cues on where to put something, so the dreaded task of filing isn’t nearly as horrid. I know if I’m looking for medical stuff, I head to red. Financial is green. House is yellow. It hasn’t made filing fun for me, but it sure makes finding what I need easy.

I also incorporated her paper organization system, but I’ve not kept up on that nearly to the degree I would like. At least now the paper mountain is better contained. Haha. Part of the problem is that I’m the only one who knows the system, and if I’ve learned anything from Marie Kondo, it’s that everyone needs to know the system so they can be responsible for their own stuff.

On top of all that, I’m starting a new cleaning system inspired by Clean Mama. I bought her book, Simply Clean, and have been paging through it this weekend. I really love reference books in paper, and Simply Clean as well as The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up are less expensive as books than as ebooks.

Becky uses many of the same cleaning recipes I’ve been using for years. Simple stuff based on vinegar, borax, soap, and hydrogen peroxide. With all the asthma and allergies in my home, we went this way nearly 20 years ago. I discovered the power of vinegar in the wash when I was washing cloth diapers, and I don’t think we’ve bought fabric softener since. Who knew cloth diapers could teach so much? Haha.

If you’re one of those people who balks at systems like this, I get it. I used to be right with you. In school we learn how to do algebra, figure out the mass of stars, and learn about obscure historical figures, but no one took the time to sit down and teach us how to manage our time or our resources. And we have a lot of stuff that we need to know how to manage and even less time to manage it in than our parents did.

I’ll take any edge I can get. I work well beyond a 40-hour work week, and since I’m self-employed, I have to take on everything I’m unwilling or unable to delegate.

All while I’m supposed to be creative and write thousands of words a week.

So I need these systems in place so I can work smarter and get things done in less time. I also need them so my family can pitch in easily and take over, espeically when I’m in a writing frenzy.

And I’ll do anything I can to support those writing frenzies so I can take advantage of them.

Try a few of these out. I’d love to hear your experiences. If you’ve had success, tell me what you loved and how they changed your life.

What was your experience?

Thoughts?

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