Last fall I determined to turn my phone off for a week. A whole week! I was a bit nervous to try it, but I was constantly drawn in by social media, flashy apps, and my Wunderlists, and I knew my mind and heart were being affected. I needed a break, and more than that, I needed to create some space.
I often ask why people want to get organized when they inquire about my services as a professional organizer. There are so many ways people answer that, but I’ve found that deep down, everyone is looking to be more productive in their homes and in their lives. Clutter stands in the way of becoming the version of themselves they know they can be.
Oftentimes this productivity begins by making space. For example, when I help organize a closet, I often begin by taking everything out. Does it sound a little counter-intuitive? The first time I suggest this approach to a new client, there’s inevitably a mini freak-out moment. Or... in walks the spouse who, upon seeing piles on the bed and floor, comments in jest, “I thought you were here to make things better!”
I thought making space and increasing productivity were counter-intuitive too, until I realized I was idolizing productivity. It began subtly, but eventually I knew I had a problem when I couldn’t even bring myself to take a day of rest. I’d work through my breaks just so I could move to the next thing, but I was missing an important step.
If I’m not careful, I start placing my value in my work and productivity. No matter how hard I work or how many things I cross off my list, I still feel unsatisfied if I’m not resting and making space first. When I turned off my phone for a whole week last fall, I started thinking about my value in a new light.
I began by getting quiet, allowing my mind to slow, and asking God to speak to me. I knew I was valuable, yet my actions suggested I was hustling to prove myself, rather than resting in my identity. I meditated on the truth that I am loved by God no matter what projects I complete or how efficiently I work. God’s intention is to free us from the things we idolize so that we live for what we’re really made for. Although tempting to depend on my own strength and efforts, it’s much lighter (and easier) to depend on Him.
Whenever I find myself flying so fast that I forget to make space for my heart to be at rest and remember who I am, I know it’s time to take a step back. One thing that has helped me is the rule of three. I pick 3 tasks/priorities each day to accomplish, and no more. I also do not schedule more than 3 things in a day. Whether that is brunch with a friend, seeing a client, and grocery shopping, or whether it is 3 appointments in a day, I’ve learned over time that 3 is my happy place which usually still allows margin.
Another thing that helps me is to check in with my heart regularly through journaling each night before I go to bed. I often do this on my phone through the DayOne journal app. I typically journal my responses in the eight different areas I outlined in my Forward Motion format, and one of those areas is taking time to listen for a few moments as I ask God what He wants to say to me that day.
Sometimes it’s an encouragement, other times it’s a soft correction. This little practice has created just enough space for me to remember my value and keep my heart tender to His opinion of my identity. If I sense Him saying I’m going too hard, I open my Google calendar app and look for a time to schedule in a time of rest soon.
Rest looks different for each person. During my scheduled rest time, I shutdown my work e-mail and reference a list of things that refresh me, none of which are productive or work-related. I created what I like to call a self-care menu which lists a dozen things I like to do to relax. This includes things like getting a pedicure or visiting the Farmer’s Market. I love working with my hands, but if I’m not careful, my day off is filled with active things and I’m not resting my mind or my body.
Rejecting the idol of productivity and creating space to find our true value takes practice and time. This is still a journey for me, yet each day I’m learning the needs of my heart more and more as I listen and respond.
Try taking some time away from your phone or internet and scheduling in a time of rest this week. Rest in the knowledge that you are loved today no matter what you accomplish. Let us create the space to listen and respond together and learn to reach our goals in a healthy and productive way. You may be surprised how a rested spirit fuels your life in an even greater way!