This is a guest post by Eleanor Traubman, Editor-In-Chief of Creative Times: A Blog for Artists and Entrepreneurs. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
As a professional organizer for the past 10 years, I have been sharing lots of tips, tricks and tools with my clients to help them get and stay more streamlined. I want them to feel empowered to focus on the things that matter most to them – their passions, their projects, and the people they want to spend time with.
What I’ve learned over the last decade of personal experience is that the best tool for staying organized and focused is not a product – it’s not a basket, shelf, or a caddy. It’s not a PDA or a day planner. It’s silence and its counterparts of stillness and quiet reflection. It’s the decision to regularly stop what we’re doing to look out the window or stare at the ceiling or just close our eyes and breathe a bit more deeply than usual.
In the age of the IPhone, BlackBerry, cell phone and hundreds of other devices and their accompanying applications, it has become ever more challenging – and crucial – to regularly walk away from the 24/7 barrage of information that streams into our inboxes and heaps new “to-dos” onto our already unending list of tasks. It’s simply unhuman to be always perched waiting for the next call, email, or Facebook update to roll in and demand our attention.
In the Age of Never-Ending Information, what I’ve found helpful is not to ask “How can I fit the most to-dos into my daily to-do list?” but rather “How can I be in the best position to decide and act on what is truly meaningful and enjoyable to me?” The answer is: to regularly set aside quiet time. Nothing about quiet time has to be fancy, but engaging in this practice regularly requires thought and intention. The key is to first set aside a time – could be first thing in the morning, could be last thing at night, or perhaps during your lunch break. Then find a place – a garden, a library, a favorite chair by a window. Repeat often and watch the quality of your decisions and your peace of mind bloom and flourish.
I find that by setting aside quiet time each day, or even every other day, I gain clarity about how I want to spend the next 60 minutes, the next several days, or even the entire year. My real priorities and desires come into much sharper focus – not because I forced myself into making yet another to-do list, but because I created space for deep-seated wishes to swirl and softly bubble to the surface where I can see and hear them more clearly than when I am madly scrolling through my emails or surfing the Internet.
Let’s face it: we’ll always have things on our to-do list. Doesn’t it make sense that a good portion of those entries reflect the people and projects that are truly important to us? The ones that we’ll remember throughout our lives?
Let silence be the gift that we let ourselves open daily. For it is truly the gift that keeps on giving.
Eleanor Traubman is a professional organizer and the Editor-In-Chief of Creative Times: A Blog for Artists and Entrepreneurs. Her passion is helping parents bring fun and play into their lives and the lives of their families.
Photo by Rob Inh00d