Are you organized? It’s great if your sock or underwear drawer is in impeccable order, and the books on your shelf, and the cans in your pantry, but what about your thoughts?
I am always trying to be more productive. And I am perennially trying to be more organized. Maybe it’s because I have two full-time career pursuits, which have many “sub-jobs” included. Maybe it’s the full-on pressure of staying on top of social media, of working out, taking care of my cats, shopping, and now, watching “American Idol.”
I wonder if my grandparents felt like this—well, they didn’t have “Idol” now did they?
Is disorganization a sign of the times? “It’s an epidemic. I don’t know anyone whose mind isn’t frenzied, distracted or divided by multitasking a good deal of the time,” writes Margaret Moore (a.k.a. Coach Meg), co-author of “Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life” in a CNN blog that’s now pinned to my wall—in an organized way. I’m also getting the book.
In it, Moore says Slate magazine first titled “the distraction epidemic” in 2005. And that in 2009, a New York magazine piece addressed “the attention crisis,” and “a cognitive plague.” Are we really that far gone?
Moore says that “whether or not you have an organized mind depends upon your ability to ‘drive’ your attention and keep it focused when you’re under pressure or faced with challenging conditions.” Sure, I am really organized when things are ticking along smoothly, but let’s face it: How often does that sustain until I’m interrupted by the unexpected? Five minutes? Maybe ten?
Six ways to organize YOU
I’ll reprise her excellent tips for being organized. Yes, it all starts “upstairs” and is also tied to being healthier, according to research.
- Tame your frenzy: Take charge of your negative emotional frenzy (worry, anger, sadness, irritation) that can mess with your “executive function.” Hence the statement, “I can’t think straight.” This sounds so good, but easier said than done, yes? This is currently the most difficult for me.
- Sustain your focus: How do we do possibly do that? “The brain was not designed to focus on more than one thing at a time.” Really? I am actually thrilled to hear this! Hint: Focus and set a timer for 20 – 30 minutes. You think this is easy? Not.
- Apply the brakes: Stop, breathe and consider whether a distraction is urgent enough to trump the current priority. And yes, you must take time to make this evaluation.
- Access your working memory: As boomers, sometimes we wonder just how that working memory is doing, yes? Access your short-term memory, turning over various elements in your mind to problem-solve, for example. Stay sharper.
- Shift sets: Move all of your attention fully to the next task and give it your undivided attention.
- Connect the dots: Do all of the above and you’ll feel good about yourself. And you may not only be healthier, but wealthier and wiser, too.
(Photo courtesy: © Vladimir Kindrachov | Dreamstime.com)