How can we take care of ourselves as compassionately as we take care of others, our homes and our
jobs? By organizing our homes, our work lives and ourselves with intention. Earlier this year I had the
chance to speak with NBC Washington to share some tips on resetting for the New Year. Here are the
ones I shared related to our personal lives:
1. Reflect on your personal values and write down your ‘scheduling under stress’ list.
In a year that seems to have a never-ending supply of stress, I find myself needing simple visual
reminders of things I can do that will disrupt moments of overwhelm. I use the following categories to
think about different areas of my life, but you may have different ones, of course:
• Good for body
• Good for money
• Good for work
• Good for brain
• Good for home
I started my year with these categories because they encompassed many rituals I wanted to strengthen
or habits I wanted to prioritize. In my journal, I made a list of examples of what I meant for each of
• Good for body: use foam roller to stretch leg muscles, follow a yoga video for 20 minutes, take
the dog for a longer than usual walk.
• Good for money: reconcile bills with accounting software for the week, update budget for a marketing
program, send email to follow up to previous corporate clients.
• Good for work: respond to 5 emails, post once on Instagram, work on the script for the next
• Good for brain: watch the next module for the interior design course online, listen to a guided
meditation, spend 15 minutes on a cross-stitch project.
• Good for home: empty the dishwasher, order new fabric to re-cover chairs, write a sweet card
for husband to find later.
These actions fuel different parts of my life, so I wrote them each out on a post-it note and placed it on
my desk. When I feel frozen about what to do next, I pick one of these categories and do one thing from
my list (or something that has come up that is the same category), and then I place a checkmark on the
post-it note. The next time, I pick a different post-it with fewer check marks on it and do something
from that category. This helps balance out how I spend my time, especially when my attention is
scattered. (This is pulled from my article on Scheduling Under Stress )
2. Incorporate mindfulness into your daily life, even in small ways
• The benefits of mindfulness have been documented widely and the key to
remember is that the more we experience these moments, the more we allow
ourselves to fully experience this quiet contemplative state, the more our brain
functions will be affected. This is called neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the
brain to adapt to changes over time. That’s why consistent mindfulness practices
have been shown to change the functional connectivity of the brain. And you don’t
need a lot of time. Even 5 minutes a day is helpful, when you can practice that
regularly. And the key is regularizing a new habit like this no matter the length of
time because small repetitive habit changes will lead to lasting change. Examples of
mindfulness activities include walking outside, meditating, anything that allows you
to be present in the moment.
3. Connect meaningfully with other people
• In a time of social isolation the way we form connections with others is critical to
our well being. Many of us have experienced loneliness ourselves or witnessed the
effect it has had on people around us. In Joy at Work, Scott says that it is important
to build a network of people who care about your development and success and
with whom you are comfortable revealing your setbacks. So look at all of the
platforms and ways you network with people – is it social media where comparison
often brings people down emotionally? Is it in community settings? Review where
and how you feel the most authentic connections and eliminate time spent on ones
that do not add value to your life.
• Look for ways at work or in community groups to share stories and gratitude, silence
your notifications, use your camera and create common goals.
“We can’t always change whats happening around us, but we can change what
happens within us.” -Andy Puddicombe, Headspace co-founder
• These repetitive tasks of decluttering and getting your home in order can not
change the systemic and structural issues people face but they can increase your
ability to navigate those issues which can also mean you have more energy to put
towards causes and people you care about.
4. Reduce spending on items that are not aligned with your vision for your life in 2022
“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of
how you want to live your life.” -Marie Kondo
• Many of us get into a routine of not checking bills that get automatically deducted
from our accounts, don’t add up our happy hour spending week to week, and buy
summer clothing we see online, all while assuming our money is doing what it is
supposed to because our checking account balances ‘seem fine.’
• Instead of looking the other way at what is happening in your bank account, a more
mindful approach can actually improve your financial health. Take a page from
Marie Kondo and her book, ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’. She addresses
how to set up your home only with things that spark joy and are useful, principles
which can also be applied to your finances. Here are some tips using her KonMari
method to give you structure and compassion in this process so that you can move
forward towards financial freedom with a clutter-free bank account.
Decluttering is about so much more than getting rid of things: When we make purposeful choices about
what we want to live with, we also set intentions for how we want to live.