The Organized Mind

“Mom, hold on, I need to organize my binder.”

Music  to my ears.

You see, while my desk may not always show it, and while the yard might not win the “Yard of the Month” award in any given month, I am, at heart, an organized person.  Those who know me are familiar with the Franklin Planners I rarely leave behind.  I try to have one for each season, because, after all, our binder colors have to match the color of the leaves and flowers.

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I suppose I come by this naturally.  My mother, bless her heart, labels everything, even the laundry baskets:  Whites, Darks and Colors.   I never have to ask where something is when we visit them in Arkansas; what I am looking for is in a logical place, properly labelled, every time.

When I truly evaluate my habits, though, I have to admit, I only want to APPEAR organized.  Inside, sometimes, my mind is mush, and I can’t remember where I parked my car.  Really.  I once spent about 1 ½ hours with a dear friend who drove me around the Dallas Fort Worth Airport, looking for my misplaced car.  We found it exactly where I left it.  I really want to be the person who remembers to lay out her clothes the night before, and have certain days for laundry, grocery shopping, and errands.  At least I think I do.

So really, why all this effort to appear organized?  I like my data, and research shows that multitasking and upkeep of the perfectly organized life are actually harmful to us. Daniel J. Levitin, in his book, The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, shares that multitasking and over emphasis on organization actually increases the stress hormone cortisol, increases the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, and makes us less productive overall.

What’s the answer?  As you might expect, I find comfort in the Bible, this time in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, verses 28-34 (NIV):

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Truth:  Stay focused on God, the ultimate multitasker.  Taking this to heart, I can know that whatever the day brings, God will provide answers.  Getting rid of the mental clutter, to make sure my head is focused on the important things, getting out of my own way – that’s the answer.

Maybe I should write that verse down in my planner, as a daily reminder……

What’s on Your Wall?

Last week, I listened to a podcast from one of my favorite authors, Andy Andrews.  Andrews is the author of many motivational and self-help books, including The Traveler’s Gift and The Noticer.  Personally, there is a soft spot in my heart for Andy as a communicator, because his Traveler’s book was the first I used to teach a Sunday morning class at my local church.  From that point, there was no turning back for me; I’ve been an active teacher since reading that book.

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On this particular podcast, Andrews spoke of the organization of his office, the place where he works.  What was important to his success?  He speaks of the wall on the opposite side of the room, the wall he can see from his desk, any time he looks up.  He calls this his ‘wall of influence,’ upon which he places reminders of those people, places and things which have had significant influence on his life.

I’ve heard a comparable example before:  What are your ‘legacy’ books, those you will never give away or lose?  Many people have a special shelf on their bookcase for such books.  Those books hold special meaning for some special reason.

Andrews gives credit to several biographies he has read, and which have a place on his wall. He acknowledges the contributions and support of his family by placing photographs of them in strategic places on the shelf.

I took time to ponder and ask the question:  What’s on my wall?  More importantly, are the items on my wall revealing – either to me, or about me?

Truth be told, I am still working on my wall.  After I heard the podcast, I started working on it, and I certainly have a few items on the shelf:  pictures of family, parents, books I’ve read.

I know this:  my wall of influence includes the Bible and a verse from Hebrews, chapter 12:

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We each have so many who came before us, who left a legacy to us and helped build our character.  I am thankful to those in my life who instilled a sense of faith, and to those who, even today, continue encourage me to ask:  Where is God in this situation?

What I know is this:  my wall of influence includes God in each item I select to place there.  And for that, I am thankful.