Mindful Organizing with Ellia Harris

Aug 29, 2019

In this episode of LivingUpp’s Conversations with Smart People, I talked with Ellia Harris of Mindful Organizing about the process of decluttering as an act of self-care.

If topics like perfectionism, procrastination, and productivity stir up some emotions for you, this article may be just the reality check you need.

In this interview, Ellia addresses how to organize your mind, as well as your physical spaces, so you can be more productive and a whole lot happier. While it’s not something we usually think about when it comes to our health and well-being, how we manage our things and our thoughts has a dramatic impact on our day-to-day lives.

What is Mindful Organizing?

Ellia describes mindful organizing as “being aware of your environment and how you interact with them,” and mindful productivity as “being aware of how you think and process information, and whether it still serves you well.”

Clutter is a time thief.

Our disorganized thoughts and possessions steal our attention, time, and energy. And those are precious resources we could be spending in more meaningful ways – like cultivating stronger relationships and building skills that enable us to live in alignment with our purpose. 

The time we waste dusting, cleaning, moving, and reorganizing could no doubt be put to better use.

How to Prioritize Your To-Do List

I’m a list-maker.

I love making lists almost as much as I love crossing items off those lists.

From The Lifestyle Design Planner* to post-it notes to the digital notepad on my phone, I have several places that I keep running lists.

But prioritizing those lists can be daunting.

Ellia’s advice is to first identify your most important and urgent goals, and then work backward from there. That helps you understand what it will take to achieve the goal, as well as help you determine what’s realistic.

Next, she recommends planning one to two weeks in advance, and then planning the next three days in detail. This allows you to choose where exactly you’ll spend your time. In many ways, prioritization looks a lot like project management.

But it’s also important to be flexible.

“Perfection is the mother of procrastination,” Ellia explained. She suggests posting a sign near your work area with the question displayed prominently: “Is this good enough?” At some point, we just have to call it done, or we’ll never accomplish anything.

Decluttering: Where to Start

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by clutter, where do you even start? Ellia recommends starting small and easy – one drawer, one shelf, one corner, one closet, or one quadrant of a room. And avoiding anything sentimental, like photos or mementos. Those items take longer and are more difficult to sort through from an emotional standpoint, so save those for last.

It’s also helpful to determine your criteria for what you’ll keep and what you’ll donate or toss–you haven’t used it in x number of years or months, it no longer fits you, etc. 

Have a thought about organizing? Leave a comment below.

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