One of the things that can trip us up when it comes to organizing is thinking too far into the future, whether that’s twenty minutes from now or twenty years. Future “tripping” is usually accompanied by behaviors like moving too fast and multitasking. Practicing being present in the moment, doing one thing at a time, sounds simple, but it is not easy. How often have we sat down to meditate, determined to focus only on our breathing, yet found ourselves distracted less than three breaths into it?
The more we practice being in the present moment, the more the collateral organizing benefits will happen effortlessly. For example:
When we are in the moment and listening to another person intently, we won’t have to ask them to repeat themselves. Saves time and annoyance for everyone.
Reading directions or a recipe all the way through and focusing as we read will prevent a lot of wasted time when trying to operate a new piece of equipment, put together an IKEA dresser or cook something complicated. Breathe, read, don’t rush. That way a bunch of vegetables won’t be left chopped on the counter because an unexpected run to Safeway for tarragon is suddenly required.
Not multi-tasking and staying present to the often boring, ubiquitous activity that is driving will help prevent accidents, costly tickets, hot drink spillage and undue stress.
My worst habit is eating while driving and I have the blueberries decaying between the driver’s seat and the center console to prove it. One of the funniest and most dangerous things I’ve ever seen is someone driving while eating noodles from a bowl. With chopsticks. That was in LA, where the things that are done while driving, such as complete outfit changes, including pants, are on a Cirque du Soleil level.
Taking three deep breaths or counting to ten before we speak when we are upset can save countless hours of all kinds of relationship repercussions, whether personal or professional. Being present means almost never having to say you’re sorry.
Let the soup cool. Let the tea cool. Burning the tongue or the roof of the mouth is an annoyance that affects the mood, and therefore productivity and personal interactions, for days.
Remember that saying, “a moment on the lips, forever on the hips,” about how eating things like double fudge brownies may not be worth the temporary pleasure? Being present, rather than consuming mindlessly, prevents reckless choices that take weeks to undo.
Of course, organizing is all about planning and planning is all about the future. But the first rule of planning is knowing where we are currently. The clearer about where we are in the present—the state of our finances is a great example—the easier it is to create a plan for the future. A really solid plan can provide the peace of mind to be able to relax into the present moment and enjoy it even more.
Finding the balance between being grounded in the present and planning is the tricky part, so keep breathing and keep practicing. It becomes kind of an entertaining, soul-satisfying game. We fall off the beam and plan or think ahead too much, or we forget to plan and some things might fall through the cracks. With practice we can get back on life’s balance beam more easily and it almost magically starts to feel much wider and more comfortable each time we return to it.