Organize Your Life

Organizing Your Life


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I do not consider myself an “organized” person, at least not in the day-to-day sense that most people seem to use that word. In fact, a few years ago, I took a test on work style preferences, and the part that represented detail management and structure was such a tiny sliver, it might as well have been a rounding error.

What I am good at, though, is organizing “big” things and allocating resources towards them. This is a handy skill when it comes to running a business or launching a nonprofit, but I also use those same skills in thinking about how I organize my life.

Some people pick a “word” for the year; I choose one to focus on one of four “buckets” that I use to represent the four elements to a happy life for me: family, work, community, personal development. Experience has taught me that I can’t have all of those things at once, and when I try, it makes me (and everyone around me) miserable. So I pick one.

That doesn’t mean it can’t change, depending on the circumstances. For example, at the beginning of 2020, I would have told you it was going to be a Work year. Instead, thanks to the pandemic, what I got was the gift of a Family year that I hadn't planned on. If I had kept trying to have a Work year, I would have been very frustrated and disappointed.

Elena’s also got a system for organizing her life that I find intriguing, even though it would never work for me. (It involves calibrating your “vibes,” and weed isn't legal in Louisiana yet.)

In the past year, many of us lost hold of the usual routines that we used to organize our lives. It was challenging, to say the least, but it also created a moment for us to “find the opportunity inside the challenge,” as my perpetually optimistic friend Ryan likes to say.

So Elena and reached out to a few people who have found interesting ways to organize their lives -- and help others do the same. Listen in to find out what Jennifer Turliuk, Lara Corey and Luigi Aldon have to say.

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Who Are You, and What Do You Want?

When we think about organizing our lives, our jobs are often a big part of that. But creating a fulfilling career is easier said than done. A few of us are lucky enough to stumble into a good fit, but for most of us, it requires more intention.

Jennifer Turliuk took intention to a whole new level, by applying design thinking to her career exploration. She shared what she learned in a Forbes article, How I Figured Out What I Wanted to Do with My Life, which was viewed over a million times, ultimately leading to a full-fledged book. Jennifer is the CEO of MakerKids and the founder of the Career Design academy.

Jennifer’s approach starts with getting to know yourself, specifically your purpose, your mission, and your core values. Once you know the answers to those questions, you can start looking at careers that fulfill your needs and test them out with what Jennifer calls, “minimal viable commitments.”

These low-risk experiments, which can include job shadowing, internships, informational interviews and more, allow you to gather feedback to guide your decisions. This approach can be particularly helpful for people looking to make big changes later in life, by lowering the anxiety they feel about making a dramatic leap. “Some of the most successful and happy people I've met have made what others might consider wild pivots in their careers,” Jennifer says.

“Design thinking starts with empathizing with the user of the product you're planning to build, but in this case, the user of the career effectively will be you.”

Finding Your Direction

Lara Corey and Luigi Aldon are the co-founders of Smudge Wellness, a spiritual wellness company that has a very unique approach to curation. Their company helps individuals discover and explore their own spirituality within the messy circumstances of life.

Lara and Luigi believe that life is fundamentally messy, even when you’re trying to organize it. But according to Lara, the messiness of life is “something that we should be acknowledging and embracing, not running away from.” Knowing that life is messy and that there is no one way to organize it for yourself can be a relief for some of us. “In fact, knowing that actually frees up all this space. There’s now all of this possibility,” Luigi says.

When organizing your life, Lara encourages people to consider the big picture for the life you want to build, then apply those themes to the details: “What are the bite-sized pieces that you can use to build that bigger picture?”

Look for “pieces of a spiritual wellness practice that you can easily and simply integrate into your life and those become your routines and those become your, your life,” Lara says.

“Organization doesn’t need to be set in stone. It needs to be intentional and purposeful.”

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Mary Ellen Slayter is CEO of Rep Cap. Before creating her own content marketing firm, she served as director of content development and a senior general business and finance editor at SmartBrief, a leading publisher of e-mail newsletters. Before joining SmartBrief, she spent 8 years at The Washington Post, where she authored the Career Track column and worked as an editor in the business news department. You can find Mary Ellen on Twitter @MESlayter.


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