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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- We have only one car, a hybrid Prius that requires very little gas or maintenance.
- We have a 1500 square foot home that we will be paying off in 3 months, eliminating all debt.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I have a small circle of friends, stay close to my family of origin, and belong to a spiritual community I enjoy.
- 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.