I have a strong desire for order in my environment. There are many intricacies to running a national nonprofit that inspires and quips communities to invest in a complex intervention to address poverty. A sense of order offers a counter balance. I have a colleague who once told me that most people’s minds are like a country road. My mind, he says, is like grand central station. This can be both a gift and a curse. Keeping my environment as an Ally helps me to remain happier and calmer as the complexity of this work steadily grows.

I approach a sense of order like this:

  1. Clear the clutter out of whatever space I am in. I keep very few papers, books, and almost no trinkets. I have one box of childhood memorabilia and most everything else from my past has been discarded. Any furniture must serve an important function. I put my own art on the walls, and some from others who inspire my own sense of creativity.
  2. Clear the clutter out of my files. I keep very few paper files – only what I must for legal records. I also constantly keep my electronic files clean and orderly, choosing to archive most of it onto an external hard drive – just in case.
  3. Keep the devices to a minimum. I have one laptop for everything. I also have one phone, which I typically update regularly to take advantage of the improved cameras, Internet connection stability, and battery life.
  4. We have only one car, a hybrid Prius that requires very little gas or maintenance.
  5. We have a 1500 square foot home that we will be paying off in 3 months, eliminating all debt.
  6. We use auto payments for all bills so we don’t have to write checks. We have automatic deposits into our nest egg to cover our future needs. Our investments are in a simple time based fund so we don’t really have to think much about them.
  7. I don’t keep clothes I don’t wear regularly. Our closets are nice, small, and tidy. If it feels like clutter, it goes to Goodwill.
  8. For exercise, I walk and lift free weights (I have 2, 15lb weights and a large rubber ball I use as a bench). I also hop on my bike and go for rides down by the river. From time to time I hike in the mountains.
  9. To stay on top of my health, I visit a naturopath I trust to determine what changes to make in my diet and lifestyle that will keep me well.
  10. I have a small circle of friends, stay close to my family of origin, and belong to a spiritual community I enjoy.
  11. When life feels too complicated, I have people I can talk to and I usually make new priorities to simply my life at the next level.

Maintaining a sense of order is an important source of happiness. Without order, the swirl of distraction begins to erupt and diffuses precious life energy. I begin to feel that I wasting my time and resources. Organizing whatever element of life fee ls too messy brings me relief, more clarity, and a stronger peace of mind.