Order in Chaos

This is Part One of a two-part post.

I am a productivity junkie. I read the books, I watch the YouTubers. I am basically obsessed with everything Thomas Frank does online.

I love productivity info because I love order. One of the things that has always helped me de-stress is structure. On a day I have nothing else to do, like several days over school breaks, I love to organize something. The closet, a cabinet, my books, or just anything I can.

I also love to have my day organized. One thing I know for a fact is that the mind does not like chaos. Chaos and constant change are not good for it. I’m not going to cite the research here, I’m just going to tell you to learn it how I learned it—>Google.com. 😀 (And lots and lots of books, so don’t forget your library.)

Over Winter Break, one of my goals was to learn how to use Notion. Notion is a useful app that can do pretty much almost everything you need to do in even the free version. I have the Personal Plan, which is free to students and educators, but is only $4/mo otherwise. I can use it to make lists. I can use it to write (most) papers—not MLA format from what I can tell. I can use it to organize my writing for school. If they had a decent calendar feature, I could get rid of everything except Drive (because I have to use that for work).

I worked on creating a lot of organization systems on Notion over the break, just to see what would work for me. I finally narrowed things down to the essentials of morning and evening things to do. I did make one mistake, I called them “self-care” which took me some time to get over, but that’s a personal issue. 🙂

I’ve been fairly consistent in the morning list. It’s pretty straight-forward and, since it involves getting my son to school, it’s a little difficult to just slough it off. 😀 But the evening list was more difficult to get into play. I’m usually tired in the evening and can always find an excuse to skip almost all of it. It turned out, though, that just having it and looking at it each evening was helping me grow into it.

Implementing a new system is never easy. And a lot of times we can get discouraged because we make this list of things to do and we expect to just be able to get it all done right away. But it takes a long time to start anything new. Despite what you might have heard from some productivity people (I don’t like everything I read or see in this category).

So I made my list.

Except a few items, like homework and work paperwork–most of which really should be completed by the time I get to the list, it really doesn’t take long to do.

For me, becoming consistent in completing almost the entire list each day was a long road. For the first weeks I just read it each night. If I was really depressed I couldn’t even do that. But about a month after I wrote it all down, I decided that since my morning list worked for me so well, I’d give the evening list a try to see if it helped me feel any better.

It did.

It’s nice to wake in the morning and know everything is ready to go. As you can see, most of my items are just things that are going to make the next morning 1000-times easier. I get my clothes together. I pack my bag up for school. I make sure I’ve finished my homework.

Yeah, folks, I have homework under self-care. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t. Do you realize how stressful you make your life by not completing your homework?

But, again, I had to ease into it. Maybe a “normal” person who has no mental health issues might be able to just jump right in, but there really isn’t a problem with easing yourself into such a system.

When you are dealing with mental illness that is the result of trauma, as many mental “illnesses” are, I think it helps to have a bit of structure wherever you can get it.

There are limits and, depending on the situation, problems that can actually be created, which is why this is a two part post. Also, making a list and getting organized are not cure-alls, and I will write more about that in the second part.

Overall, however, I have found that structure, like controlled breathing, can help my mind and keep me focused even when things feel like they are getting out of control.

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