Personal / Psychiatry

A Cluttered Mind

Current state of mind = disorganized.

My typical morning routine before heading to work looks pretty turbulent and disjointed.  I usually hit the snooze button several times, check my email and various social media accounts in bed with my eyes half open (and probably “like” the most random, obscene pictures on Instagram and Facebook while in a somnolent state), slowly get up to conduct my basic hygiene rituals, throw numerous pieces of clothing on my bed while selecting an outfit based on my mood, then run downstairs to grab all of my belongings (purse, food, coffee), then proceed to get into my car when I suddenly realize that I forgot something, rush back inside to recover the forgotten item, then speed off in my car and head to work.  Monday-Friday = same routine.  I used to get jealous of my friends who’d wake up early enough to sip their morning coffee, read the paper or watch the news and get ready for work at a leisurely pace.  I wish my routine could be more linear.  However, my routine has existed for years and works for me.  No harm is caused, other than leaving a mess that looks as if a tornado ripped through my bedroom.

I contemplated writing a post that provides tips on how to be more organized, but refrained since there’s plenty of articles and books on the subject.  Plus, I’d be the last person anyone would listen to on the topic of organization.  I’ve had family members, friends, exes, teachers, tutors, medical directors, etc, try and teach me strategies to better organize my life.  And did I listen?  Sometimes, but mostly no.  I experimented with various methods and eventually cultivated my own process that works best for me.  Therefore, I will at least list my tactics since sometimes it’s helpful to know what works for others:

  • Start the morning with a to-do list:  if you’re one who can keep your to-do list straight in your mind, then more power to you.  I, however, have to jot down my list otherwise nothing gets done.
  • Keep only one planner/organizer:  at one point, I was writing things in my planner, penciling appointments into a separate calendar, entering activities into my google calendar, sticking post-its in random places = STRESS trying to keep track of everything.  I’m old-school and like writing things down, so I keep one planner and make sure I list all my notes, to-do list, appointments, etc, in my planner so that I know exactly where to look.
  • Recognize patterns in your disorganization:
    • Prioritize sleep — productivity, cognition, concentration, and overall ability to function, are directly correlated with sleep.  I am most disorganized if I don’t sleep well the night before.  Once I was able to identify this pattern, I learned not to be so hard on myself on those days and made sure to prioritize getting a good night’s rest on subsequent days.
    • Maintain your routine as much as possible — when my weekly routine changes (for example, due to travel, etc), I have a much harder time getting re-situated upon my return.  However, recognizing this pattern reminds me that I need to either be more proactive or go easier on myself if my house or office looks even more disastrous than usual (yes, I’m one of those people who takes several days to unpack my suitcases).

Though I’m currently a bit more disorganized than usual, I know that I’ll eventually get back on track.  Today, I wrote my to-do list and proudly checked off half of the items listed.  Over the years, I’ve learned not to beat myself up if I wasn’t able to complete everything on my list.  Tomorrow is a new day and it’s not the end of the world if I have a few extra items listed and has a negligible impact in the grand scheme of things.

Therefore, my main advice is to discover what works for you.  The most validating statement ever made to me about my perceived disorganization was when my mentor told me that it’s okay to find comfort in chaos.  While some people prefer neat, tidy, and systematic, others may function better in a less controlled environment.  Just because my routine isn’t the same as my friends’ doesn’t mean that I’m abnormal.

Thought of the Day:  Which techniques help you most with organization?


Photo by Marlon Santos

12 thoughts on “A Cluttered Mind

  1. Apparently you follow the Beatles’ morning routine…

    woke up, fell out of bed
    dragged a comb across my head
    found my way downstairs and drank a cup
    and looking up noticed i was late
    found my coat and grabbed my hat
    made the bus in seconds flat
    found my way upstairs and
    someone spoke and i went into a dream. (Day in the Life)

    of course, you would change the last line to someone spoke and i interpreted a dream 🙂

  2. and one more thing. i gently object (it’s a lawyer’s prerogative!) to the title of this piece. i have seen no evidence that you have a “cluttered” mind–a negative spin. au contraire. your thinking always seems to me more lucid than almost anyone i know.

    • yes, i had a thought about changing the title, but then again, i’m trying to be authentic and it’s how i felt at the time of writing it. but as u once said, i should keep blogging because it’s good for me (case and point, i woke up early enough today to have enough time to fit in a quick workout, take my time, and even reply to your comment this early in the morning…which is unheard of for me!). amazing how bringing the subconscious to the conscious can make such an impact 🙂

  3. I’m kind of laughing at how similar our routines are! These days I stay at home, but it’s essentially the same 🙂 My to-do list is sadly, on a Microsoft Word document. Great tips Vania! -Alice from Wonderland Organics

  4. Enthalpy V Entropy, to produce order from a higher state of chaos ;-). Time to sit back and enjoy the weekend

  5. It should be a good weekend. Just found out that I’m going to be retiring (early) and I’ll have a great opportunity to get “things” organized around my life. I think it might be part of the process of being a bereaved parent, and rebuilding my “new” life. I was 1 of 2 parents that hadn’t lost their job after the 2 year mark in (my compassionate friends group). So we will see what happens.

    • Hey Bob…sounds like a great new phase in your life. Wow, I never even imagined that the likelihood of maintaining a job after loss of a child was so low (until I came in contact with you of course, for which I am grateful for your openness to share your experience). I only hope for the best for you and your family.

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