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Sunny Schlenger

Everything's Connected
by Sunny Schlenger

What’s on your desk?

Glancing around mine I see:

  • an empty coffee cup
  • a container of Advil
  • a tiny bottle of spruce essential oil
  • a notebook full of scrapbooking ideas
  • an email newsletter from a good friend
  • a remote control for my ipod deck

So, what does that mean other than I probably need to clean up my desk? Actually, a lot.

The six items listed above are all clues about who I am and what’s important to me. The empty coffee cup was recently full of chai tea, my favorite beverage. The Advil is for a tooth that is scheduled for a root canal. The spruce oil smells delicious and is supposedly good for manifesting. The scrapbooking notebook contains random and fun ideas for lay-outs that I can do and products that I’d love to have. The newsletter is from a woman I mentor who never fails to inspire me with her creativity and courage. And the remote controls my ipod playlist that I can program to whatever suits my mood of the moment.

Organizing for the Spirit by Sunny Schlenger

These items are on my desk apart from their individual functions and express my current likes, priorities and concerns. They’re connected to the flow of my life.

This is why I believe that everything you own has meaning and that it’s hard to get organized if you don’t understand the “what” and “why” of your space. Everything you’ve collected (whether you’ve consciously collected it or not), tells you something about who you are at a given point in time.

It’s all connected.

How can you use this knowledge? Let’s look at my list again. Over the years my coffee cup has stopped containing coffee. Tea is better for me and I’m learning to listen to my body. The Advil is a reminder that my teeth are aging and I need to have my first root canal (gotta take care of those teeth!) The spruce oil is a bit of an extravagance that I’ve allowed myself because sometimes just an aroma can give me a significant boost. (And who can’t use help with manifesting?) The newsletter probably just needs to be filed, but in truth, I love the reminder that I’m doing something (coaching) that is having a very positive effect on someone. The remote control is here because I don’t feel like reaching over and adjust the volume whenever a song sounds too low or too loud.

When you look at what surrounds you, you can either see “a mess” or you can see evidence of a life being lived. If you choose to look at it the second way then organizing becomes merely a series of choices on what to surround yourself with NOW.

When you see everything as being connected, as being one, you realize that there don’t have to be any judgments. Things simply “are”. If you don’t like the way they are, you usually have the option of changing them. And the more you understand why they were there in the first place, the kinder you will be to yourself. Self-kindness is especially important when you tend to put labels on yourself – e.g., “sloppy”, “lazy”, “undisciplined”, “not good enough”, etc.

How to Be Organized in Spite of Yourself

The truth is that if you feel overwhelmed or tired, you will tend to leave more things lying around. You’ll find it harder to make decisions about whether to keep them or where they should go. But those things were originally there for a reason, and those reasons contain the germs of an organizational system that will reflect your wants and needs.

Obviously, you want to keep what you use frequently close by. But you also want to make sure that you have easy access to whatever it is that delights you, feeds your soul or makes you feel creative. That’s why I keep my scrapping ideas notebook close at hand. Organizing is not really about straightening up after yourself, although it can encompass that. It’s about recognizing the connections and making them work for you and not against you.

Seeing the connections allows you to be more at one with your surroundings. It reduces stress and helps maintain flow. When you understand that nothing really exists separately from anything else, you will feel more in control of your environment and more positive about yourself.

© Copyright 2009 Sunny Schlenger.  All Rights Reserved. 

Sunny Schlenger
Sunny Schlenger has been a professional organizer for over 25 years, working with large and small corporations, non-profit agencies, and individuals to help them manage their time and space more creatively and effectively. She does personal coaching as well as group training and special project facilitation. Sunny is the author of the best-selling How To Be Organized in Spite of Yourself, a Book-of-the-Month-Club featured selection. Her next release will be Organizing for the Spirit, to be published by Jossey-Bass/John Wiley & Sons in April, 2004. Sunny has degrees from Johns Hopkins University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her clients have ranged from the producers of Live with Regis and Kelly, to her husband, an air traffic controller who tells us that the skies are now safer, thanks to her assistance.

Her website is www.suncoach.com.

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