The spaces you live and work in are vital to your well-being and success. Humans are very sensitive to our environments – whether we realize it or not … more than we even realize – and when your environment isn’t set up for success, chances are you’re often getting distracted, anxious, or feeling sluggish and stuck.
So it’s essential to ensure that your home and your office are conducive to your ability to function with ease, grace and efficiency.
In your home or office, the way the furniture is arranged, the colors of paint, the art or keepsakes you have displayed, the plants or lack of plants – all of these have an effect on you that determines how you live your life & move through your work.
Here’s why: the way things look on the outside mirrors what’s happening on the inside. This is true for anything image-related, whether it’s your home, your office, the way you dress, or how neatly you keep your handbag. When your space is disharmonious, it’s really hard to get your work done.
What organization means to you is personal. I’m a Virgo, so intense organization is really important to me. My husband, on the other hand, seems to thrive in environments I’d call chaotic! The idea here is that when things are aligned for you externally, your ability to move forward will be better and unobstructed because your environment affects how you feel. How you feel affects what you do, how you move in the world, and how you live your life.
Here is an easy process to help you start setting your space up for success right away:
Step 1: Assess your space
Take a good look at your space and determine what’s working and not working for you. Observe from a place of your needs and desires, not from “shoulds,” and also from where your life is right now. For example, if you just moved last week, you’re not going to be fully unpacked, so just be realistic with what’s possible at this moment. Here’s a series of questions you can use to assess each room – just adapt them slightly to match the room you’re in.
Start with the outside of your home or your office and work your way in and through each room. If you own a house, look at the paint color, the front yard and the driveway. For apartment dwellers, look at your door, doormat, and any exterior decorations you may have.
- Look at colors and how they make you feel. Happy? Anxious? Depressed? Calm?
- Do things work? Are they broken, chipped, leaky, squeaky, dusty, stained, faded?
- Do the art works and other decorations please you?
- Can you move through the room with ease, or are you dodging furniture?
- Do your cabinets, drawers, and closets contain too much? Do you throw everything in them and have a hard time finding them later?
- Is there enough light? Can you see what you’re doing?
- Is there too much in the room? Or does it seem empty?
- Do you have plants or other pieces of nature that ease and inspire?
Step 2: Ask the Deeper Questions:
What does each room say about you? How does the external mirror the internal? How is it affecting the actions you take or don’t take? How is it affecting the experience of your life? What do you really need in that room and what can you get rid of?
Step 3: Be prepared to Let Go
The #1 block to organization is letting go.
On both the inner and the outer level, being unable to let go is the biggest block to getting your space organized, in alignment, and feeling that it’s nourishing you.
For example, let’s say you have a big piece of furniture that just doesn’t work. It’s the wrong color, it’s old, falling apart and uncomfortable. Why is it hard to let go of this? Maybe because your ex gave it to you and you’re still holding onto the last vestiges of that relationship. Or because you got it in your college years and you’re nostalgic for those times. When you’re not ready to let go of these items, how is that serving you?
Oftentimes when things are disorganized or chaotic, it’s because that sense of being overwhelmed or scattered can serve us in some way. It’s supporting an “addiction” to being uncomfortable because it’s what you’re used to. But in order to achieve ease and flow in your life and work, you have to decide what to keep and what you need to let go of.
Step 4: Get Organized:
Here are some of my favorite resources and tools for getting organized:
- Making lists. Even if I don’t get to everything on the list, it’s very helpful to have a guide of what to do. Make lists of things that need repair, what you need to buy, what you need to read or write. Make a list of who can help you.
- Ten Minute Miracle. My friend and colleague, Jennifer Zwiebel of A Place of Joy, is a professional organizer who created the Ten Minute Miracle. If you are someone who is completely overwhelmed by your space, put aside no more than 10 minutes a day to tackle just one thing. On Monday, tidy the kitchen drawer. Tuesday, change the lightbulb that’s been burnt out for 2 weeks. Wednesday, call the plumber about the leaky faucet, and so forth. Just ten minutes per day can really help demolish that to-do list.
- Create time-bounded systems. Determine what’s daily, weekly, monthly. In my household, dishes get done daily. Laundry gets done weekly. Changing the filter for our water gets done every 6 months. When you know how often things need to be completed, you don’t have to worry about them until it’s time to do them.
- Organize by use. Organizing things by how YOU use them will save both time and stress. What’s going to make your experience of your environment more ease-full? What are systems you can create in your home? A big issue for many people is mail and paper bills. Do you need to read your mail daily, or just a few times a week? Can you have your bills changed to e-bills and automatically paid by your bank online?
- Get help. If you’re someone who needs help, get some. This might seem obvious, but so many people get overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, so they don’t. I recommend the 10 Minute Miracle first, but if even that seems too much, call in a support person – either paid or unpaid – to help you. Maybe a friend or a sibling or neighbor can help, or maybe you need to hire a cleaning person, or a professional organizer. Never underestimate the value of asking for and receiving support.
- Ritual. I’ve been trained in creating ritual, so I really understand the power of performing them – and ANYONE can do one. You can do a home blessing or home “cleaning.” Go into each room with a candle and create an intention for each room: love in your bedroom, community in your dining room, relaxation in your living room, etc. Infuse each room with the energy you want it to have. Rituals can be powerful on your own, but even more so if you invite friends or family to do them with you.
- Feng Shui. When my husband and I first moved into our first apartment together, no arrangement felt right for me and we ended up hiring a feng shui consultant. You can use a book on your own. Set things up for maximum flow and create spaces that will inspire you. For me it was a great experience and 100% worth the time and financial investment that we made; it was such a difference in our home.
I’m excited for you to get started on aligning your environment with your goals and setting your space up so that you can be as successful as possible. Enjoy!