A few summers ago, I had a feeling of freedom that I hadn’t felt since before having kids. They were all finally teenagers, my daughter was driving herself to friends’ houses and everywhere else, and she even helped to run errands and pick up/drop off her brothers! They were all finally quite independent, able to do their own laundry, scheduling, and figure out meals without always needing me to coordinate. I felt so free!
Seven months after that amazing summer, the kids were sent home from school and, like most everyone else around the world, we had to adapt to a summer at home, with all activities and trips canceled while managing 180-degree shifts in our jobs.
The past few years have shown us just how quickly everything can, and will, change. Change brings disturbance and distraction, and it’s become painfully clear that if you can’t adjust quickly to a new way of life, it’s easy to find yourself overly stressed, unfocused on your priorities, and ultimately, feeling out of control.
Things that Bring Change to Your Life
A global pandemic isn’t the only thing that can bring unprecedented change, of course. Be it a marriage, a new baby, the illness or death of a loved one, the kids starting a new school, or a household move or new job, our life transitions can also wreak havoc on our well-being and control if we’re not sure how to adapt.
My Organizing Philosophy, and How it Helps You Adapt to Change
As a professional organizer, my job begins with assessing how you manage your day-to-day at work and at home, and then help you to organize your home and your time in a way that makes any unforeseen transitions as easy and seamless as possible for you and your family.
My organizing philosophy hinges on simplicity. I don’t necessarily consider myself a minimalist, really. Rather, I advocate living with just enough and mindful consumption. Both of these tenets have helped me to simplify my life.
By simplifying what you have, what you do and how you live, you are intrinsically more able to adjust to changes around you. And the more quickly you’re able to accept the adjustments, the happier and calmer you (and your kids and spouse!) will feel living and dealing with new situations. Reacting and adapting to change in a healthy way are frankly great examples for your kids, too.
5 Things to Simplify Right Now so You Can Easily Adapt to Any Change
Here are 5 things to simplify which will make any change easier to adjust to:
- Your Stuff. Clearly, the more you own, the more difficult it is to make a physical move to a new home. But more than that, your stuff is a burden. You spend money on it, you have to maintain it, and you have to store it somewhere.
Consider this scenario: You dread cooking meals at home because of the time and mounds of clean-up involved. But you know that take-out every night is not entirely healthy, nor is it budget-friendly, so you resolve to live more healthily and cook at home – and you’re cranky, tired, and slightly resentful.
Now imagine owning only 2 pots, 2 frying pans, 3 knives and 5 cooking spatulas. How would the clean-up after a meal change for you? Would you still dread washing up, or would it be manageable? How would your mood be different?
That’s just one example of how what we own tends to pull our focus away from our loved ones and from living a life based on our values. To learn more about how to reduce what you own, read 5 Key Principles For Successful Decluttering Without Regret – the C.L.E.A.R Framework.
- Your Time. Although working from home at least part of the time may now be a reality for some, a great deal of emphasis is still placed on filling our time with work and with kids’ enrichment activities. We then squeeze in volunteer and religious events, and hobbies that we should check off our list.
We were taught take on more responsibility, create to-do lists and set reminders on our smartphones, and then check off what’s been done. Often, unending to-do lists are written, revised, with some to-dos left perpetually at the bottom of the list week after week after week. Learning exactly how to plan your time to do the important things is a game-changer.
When you know exactly what you should do next and you know that it aligns with your values and goals, your entire schedule is simpler, resulting in less stress overall. And then, if you need to make a scheduling change, it’s easy to see how and where to do so. For a primer on how to simplify your schedule, read How to Simplify Your Schedule (and still Conquer your Goals at Work and Home).
- Your Goals. Having a list of goals written out at the start of the year may feel powerful, but even more powerful is focusing on just a few achievements per day, and 3 goals per week. Of course, these achievements and goals have to align to your overall goals and values in order to simplify your life and still create the results you want. Focusing on only 3 goals per week not only means that you’ll progress steadily, but also that you can shift your goals more quickly should situations outside your control change.
Read more about values-driven goal setting: Accomplish More by Focusing on Less.
- Your Devices. Think about it: if the first thing you do in the morning is reach for your phone to check emails, texts, social media or the news, you’re allowing your day to be controlled by others instead of controlling your day yourself! Even if you don’t answer the email, texts comments, or DMs right away, you’re still carrying those in your mind while you start your day. It’s simply distracting you from being present with your family and yourself before school or work.
Reacting to news on someone else’s terms is also stress-inducing. Take some time to think, research, and discuss before deciding how to respond.
Being in control of your devices will allow you to make more level-headed decisions when change happens. Read about some simple strategies to put in place here: How to Stop Being Distracted by Your Phone (7 Helpful Tips)
- Your Sleep. Adults aged 18-64 need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Teens and children need even more. Quality of sleep is just as important as quantity. Not getting enough good sleep can affect your performance as well as your mood. More dangerously, consistent lack of sleep can lead to depression, anxiety, and a host of physical risks, such as heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes [source NIH https://medlineplus.gov/healthysleep.html].
Creating good sleep habits will allow you to get the sleep you need to avoid increased stress and to make better decisions during times of great change. To find out how to create good sleep habits, read 6 Tips to Sleep Better (Science-Backed!).
Taking some steps to simplify the 5 things above right now will help you easily adapt to any change. I think you’ll find that while things will continue to change around you, sometimes radically, you’ll be able to react and adapt with greater confidence.
- Your Stuff
- Your Time
- Your Goals
- Your Devices
- Your Sleep