Don’t Agonize. Organize!

These last few years have left many feeling unmoored. Months passed when no one really seemed to know what was happening, and with no clear end in sight, many are still anxious about what lies ahead.

It can be agonizing trying to find our way around this new world. 

Then, a few weeks ago, I overheard a politician quoting a line by Florynce Kennedy from the Women’s Civil Rights movement of the ‘70s. Don’t agonize; organize.

It hit me! This pearl of wisdom that galvanized many social change movements also worked for the struggles we face in life—even outside of a pandemic—financial concerns, healthy eating, sleep quality, work productivity, creative energy, etc. We tie ourselves in knots worrying and fretting, but it doesn’t solve anything.

I dug around the web, trying to find out if being organized actually improved your quality of life or simply made you feel better about it.

Overwhelmingly, it showed that organizing your personal space and personal life vastly improved many aspects of daily life—mainly because people who followed this practice had lower stress levels. 

They made better decisions; they saved time and energy; they made better food choices, slept better, and were more productive.

It stood to reason: If your desk is organized, you won’t waste time hunting down the plumber’s bill. If you plan out your meals for a week, you are less likely to order in, grab drive-thru or eat cereal for dinner. If you had your work emails all filed correctly, you could be more productive.

All these saved minutes mean more time to walk, read, meditate, therefore less stress and better sleep.

Then, during my research (fancy term for looking for facts to back up my theory!) I read an article by a finance guru. She said money issues were the number one reason keeping people awake at night. Her advice was straightforward; organize your finances. Her explanation boiled down to the fact that most people were so anxious about money that they simply swept any thoughts about it under the carpet. She went on to say that many people had no plan or budget. 

Her advice was to organize, organize, organize. 

Again, her advice could be summed up by the old slogan, don’t agonize, organize.  

How do we reach this state of being organized? We are obviously too stressed to Marie Kondo our lives! 

Personal experience and a little more research suggest a few simple steps to get started.

Write stuff down. I have those sticky notes, basic note cards, and pencils in every room—yes, even the bathroom! We think we will remember it, and yet, here we are.

Set schedules, create routines, and set up systems. This works like a charm for me. If you do the boring stuff as efficiently as possible, you have time for what you feel is important.

A place for everything and everything in its place. I was raised with this rule. To this day, if any member of my family asks where is something, I can tell them down to the granular detail. They also know that when they have used said item, it had better be returned to that exact spot. 

Declutter as you go. Yes, we all have that junk drawer or box that houses all the odds & ends, but if you want to really feel smug, make a point to regularly throw out / donate / recycle things you no longer need. My rule is one-in, one-out. If I buy four pairs of new workout socks, I wave goodbye to the four oldest pairs. Set yourself a goal: once a week, review one drawer or one shelf. You are less likely to be swamped if you throw as you go. 

Our world is slowly righting itself, but we are human, and there will always be things we agonize over. Maybe, by taking steps to be more organized, we will find some comfort.

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