Jennifer LoudenThere are dozens and dozens of time management books and planner systems on the market.  Why create a new one?

Let me be clear:  I would be lost without Google Calendar. But calendars and traditional time management is only half the picture.  The Life Organizer brings in the other half: our values, our heart, our intuition, and mindfulness.  We need our to-do lists, but there’s another whole part of us that withers if we’re not making time to listen and tune in.

How does Life Organizing work?   

You can do it anytime.  It’s not a big deal.  The way that the book is structured is that it gives you all kinds of tools that you can use in 30-seconds — on your way to pick up the kids, when you’re waiting for a meeting to start, or when your head is about to pop off because of boredom or stress.  Tens of thousands of women have been using these ideas for more than 15 years in so many creative ways.  From a few minutes in the bathtub on a Sunday night to a regular check in first thing in the morning – it’s completely customizable and flexible. That’s why it’s been so popular.

The Five Step Organizing Process sounds like it takes time.  How can women possibly add another thing to their lives?

It takes far longer to explain the five steps than it does to do them!

The first step is to CONNECT.  So much of our lives we forget we have a body until our back aches from sitting too long, or we have to go to the bathroom urgently. Connecting simply means finding your body and feeling it.  Maybe take a breath, put your hand on your heart, or give yourself a little ear rub.  It takes seconds.

The second step is to FEEL.  This is based on the great body of research in neurocardiology. We have a brain in our heart and that brain is one of our most effective tools for stress reduction and also for opening up the higher functions of our brain; creativity, intuition, empathy.

FEEL means recall a pleasant feeling. I got married recently so my favorite memory these days is the ceremony and our dance. I take about 20 seconds to feel in and turn up the volume on those feelings of love and connection and happiness.

The third step is to INQUIRE. Drop a Mindful Question in to this opened up space. Something like, ‘What would I really love to do next?” or “What or whom do I want to say no to today?” or “What’s most important in this moment?” Then the final two steps are to ALLOW yourself to relax and listen. And, finally, APPLY or take action.  Do something with what you hear, even if it’s just say thank you for yourself for checking in.

This is a mindfulness practice woven into everyday life.

You offer a different way to manage your To-Do list in The Life Organizer.  What is that and how does it help tame overwhelm?

So much of our experience of overwhelm comes from the story that we tell ourselves about what we have to do.  So one of the most beloved tools in The Life Organizer is to sort your list by “have to”, “could do”, and “let go of”.  What women have reported to me over the years is just the permission to use that frame to look at their life – everything is not a have to – opens up the idea that overwhelm might not be this law of the universe that you must experience, that it might actually be something you have a relationship to and that you can choose to change.

Have to, could do let go, try it out when you next add items to your to do list.

What’s the Berlin Wall of Busyness and why are you dedicated to dismantling it? 

The Berlin Wall of Busyness is this constant conversation in the media, in our family lives, and in our workplaces that starts with the words, “I’m just so busy.”  It’s a badge of honor, to be so busy.  It’s one of the prime habits that erode our humanity, our empathy, and our ability to connect with each other.  It keeps us tuned out re: what’s really going on in the world – things like climate change – and makes it feel impossible to take action to make the world better. We tune out because we feel we’re so busy and overwhelmed.  We get home at night and all we want to do is tune out.

Dismantling the Berlin Wall of Busyness is the true purpose The Life Organizer – to help us begin to see that it’s an illusion and that we don’t have to continue to live this way. We can make different, more mindful and alive, choices.

What is the most powerful change that happened to someone from using The Life Organizer?

It’s from a review on Amazon.  It’s a story of a woman who felt like she hadn’t been living her dream, which was to work in the theater. She’d raised her daughter, took care of her parents, and had given up on something that had been incredibly important to her.  When her daughter was preparing for college, the theater dream came around and was bugging her, and she was frustrated and mad at herself for wanting something so impossible. Then she read the book and this line, “Desire is the flow of life we yearn to swim in, the urge to be one with Spirit, and the way to stay in touch with this flow is through knowing what we want without insisting that we get it“, blew her open. She felt free to pursue her dream.  Within days, her whole life had turned around. She ended up getting her MFA in costume design.  The book helped her dismantle the story that she couldn’t have what she wanted.

You’ve been called The Comfort Queen.  What does Life Organizing have to do with comfort?

It’s another iteration of the themes of my 23-years of writing, teaching, and speaking about women’s well-being. To me, the deepest definition of comfort is being comfortable in my own skin and with my own choices and decisions.  To get there, over the course of all the books I’ve written and all the workshops and retreats and speeches I’ve given, I’ve realized that it’s taking the time to listen to myself and validating what I am experiencing.  It’s asking, “What do I need?  What do I think?”  Instead of going to an expert, it’s really coming into this moment and owning it for myself.

The Life Organizer helps you become comfortable trusting yourself, your instincts and choices and directing your life more from that place. Not all of the time, but more.  That’s really deep comfort.

Thousands of self-help books are released every year.  Are people actually changing for the better or are self-help authors like you simply making money off the promise of self-improvement?

That is a question I ask myself often!  I don’t want to spend my life offering people things that aren’t of real value.  I don’t know the answer.  I want to say, “Yes, people are changing.”   I’ve had the pleasure and the privilege of working with women as a coach and through my retreats for over 20 years and I have seen some incredible change in individual women and heard stories about my books helping many, many women,  but is it lasting change?  I hope so.

Why is your book written for only women?  Don’t men need this way of organizing their lives, too?

Yes, men, need a way of organizing their lives, too.  The reason I’m drawn to do work that’s aimed mostly at women is because we have a certain set of challenges.  We live in a culture that says that says we come second because we should be taking care of everybody else first.  We need support to change that story.

If you could have women do one thing to direct their lives in this new way, what would it be?

It would be the popular perennial idea that Brene Brown quoted it in her book Daring Greatly and that’s the concept of shadow comforts and time monsters.

Shadow comforts are the things we do in the name of self-care that don’t truly nurture us; they actually undermine our confidence and trust in ourselves.  Eating a whole package of Oreos, binge watching Netflix, gossiping, shopping versus going for a walk in the woods or having a good cry or calling a friend.  You know?  What really would recharge us?

Time monsters are the things that we do instead of what we really want to do.  For me, it’s checking email instead of writing the new book I’m trying to write.  Or helping my daughter research something instead of sitting staring into space and thinking. Time monsters can be satisfying They make us feel so worthwhile but they can keep us from our dreams.

Try gently asking yourself, “What are my shadow comforts?  What are my time monsters?” Simply bring some awareness to this area, some curiosity, is incredibly powerful.

How do you support women to continue to use this process?

I have an app for that!  It’s exciting to use technology to remind people to check in with themselves, and to collect simple data to see a picture of their desires and choices over time.  Along with that app, when you sign up through my website http://jenniferlouden.com/lifeorganizer/, we send you fun reminder emails to keep encouraging you to check in with yourself and to trust yourself.

About the Author

Life OrganizerJennifer Louden is the author of The Life Organizer and The Woman’s Comfort Book.

A personal growth pioneer who helped launch the self-care movement, she’s written 4 additional books on well-being and whole living that have inspired women all over the world.

Jen believes self-love + world-love = wholeness for all.

Visit http://JenniferLouden.com/lifeorganizer for a life organizer app & other useful freebies.

 

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By Jennifer Louden

The Life OrganizerDo you feel a pull to be present, to match your pace to the fluid and complex world ours has become? If so, the more traditional approaches to managing your life and structuring your days can hog-tie you, forcing you to relinquish the skills most needed in today’s world – like intuition, emotional intelligence, creativity, and big-picture thinking

I’ve got an alternative. This process, what I call life organizing, is infinitely richer then plotting your days in fifteen-minute increments in your planner.

But one warning: change can be frightening, especially at first. I will ask you, over and over, to trust, to loosen your grip on life.

I will ask you to stop and feel, to tune in to what you really want and what you really know. The rewards of your courage are limitless – a life that sings, that moves with instead of against.

While a short article isn’t enough space to give all the knowledge, experiences, and thoughts I have about life organizing (I’d need to write a book to do that – and, in fact, I have!), I can provide the basics. Life organizing works in two complementary ways, easily adoptable and adaptable:

1) A life planner that you choose and create. This planner will enable you to discern what you want week by week while gently tracking where your time and energy are actually going, and what might be getting in your way of living a life you love. The life planner’s core is four to six weekly mindful questions that build on and refer to each other, and move you into a deeper mode of awareness and listening.

2) A check-in that consists of five steps and requires as little time as it takes to open the freezer, find the ice cream, and get a spoon.

1. Connect: Breathe deeper, stretch your arms overhead, step outside and feel the breeze on your skin – anything that connects you with the physical world.

2. Feel: Tune into your heart to access information unavailable to your head. Put your attention on your heart, placing your hand there. Recall a time you felt loved and appreciated or loving and appreciative. Linger there for a few seconds.

3. Inquire: Ask a mindful question to open up possibilities you literally couldn’t see before. My favorite: What do I need to know right now? (What if you really didn’t need to know more than the next immediate step?)

What do I want? (Creativity requires being in touch with your undiluted desires. Remember, you don’t have to act on what you want, and wanting doesn’t mean getting.)

What don’t I want?   (Sometimes the process of elimination can be less intimidating than naming your desires outright!)

How can I be gentle with myself in this situation? (We can all benefit from asking this many times a day)

4. Allow: Trust that, by connecting, feeling, and inquiring, you’ll hear or see or feel or sense what your next step is—and only your next step. Allowing is about noticing your experience, and opening to your next step.

5. Apply: Action is  where the practical and results-oriented parts of you get their due. Without action, without decision, you remain in possibility, which is safe and beautiful but eventually enervating and boring. That doesn’t mean eating the whole elephant in one bite; small steps aren’t just okay; they’re encouraged.

Life Organizing in the Moment in Action

It’s mid-morning, and your plan for the day is already in shambles. You’re reaching for a Diet Coke, hoping it will give you the energy to deal with the next crisis. Then you remember that there’s another way. You make the choice.

Feel your feet connecting with the ground beneath you. Take a deep breath and reach your arms overhead, exhaling with a huge sigh. Put your hand on your heart and recall feeling balanced and flowing.  Ask, “What choice feels easiest in this moment?” Visualize bringing this question into your heart, and take a breath or two to infuse it with flow and peace.

Perhaps a brief image of your sister comes to mind, or you hear a refrain of an old song that reminds you of her. Or perhaps you remember the feeling of your sister hugging you. You call her, have a lovely chat, and when you get off the phone, you have new energy —enough to move you forward to the next task awaiting you.

Do you begin to see how this approach flows with life? I’m not proposing you sell your worldly possessions and move to the woods to live in an unheated yurt. I’m not recommending you consult crystals or the I Ching before moving a muscle. What I’m saying is when you think you’re lost, overwhelmed, and without direction, you do “know” what to do to restore your balance and your direction– but it’s a different kind of knowing, one you already possess, and need only be reminded of how to access.

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Jennifer LoudenJennifer Louden is the author of The Life Organizer and The Woman’s Comfort Book.

A personal growth pioneer who helped launch the self-care movement, she’s written 4 additional books on well-being and whole living that have inspired women all over the world. Jen believes self-love + world-love = wholeness for all.

Visit http://JenniferLouden.com/lifeorganizer for a life organizer app & other useful freebies.

# # #

Based on the new paperback edition of The Life Organizer: A Woman’s Guide to a Mindful Year © 2013 by Jennifer Louden. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com

 

 

 

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Seven Ways to Think Creatively

by Deborah on January 1, 2014

creativityI have this theory that the three things most people would like to avoid (at all costs) are dying, speaking publicly and thinking creatively.

Well, the first option is unavoidable, you might be able to dodge the second, but you’re really shooting yourself in the foot if you try and avoid creative thinking.

Here’s the problem: it’s just a whole lot easier to maintain the status quo and keep doing things the same way you’ve always done them.

Most people just don’t see the value of figuring out new or better ways of doing things. Remember the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

I have a different take: “If it ain’t broke, break it and make a better one.”

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Why Creative Visualization Works

by Deborah on December 25, 2013

Candle FlameExperience has shown that creative visualization works.

It is quite possible to prove that circumstances and events follow thoughts.

Take any situation or happening in your life, and go back to find what kind of thoughts preceded the event.

You will find out that a particular event, followed particular thoughts.

Here are the reasons why visualization produces results:

We are an inseparable part of the creative Universal Mind.

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creativity at workThere comes a time in any organization that change becomes detrimental to the survival of the company.

An organization that does not or will not consider change is destined to failure and eventually will cease to exist.

Barriers to creativity and innovation must be identified and a creative innovation implementation plan set in place.

First, it is important to identify such barriers in order to overcome them.

Fear- Fear of failure, ridicule, of decision- making, making mistakes, of taking risks, of change, and fear of the unknown can all be factors, which can hinder the creative mindset.

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Know The Fundamental Skills Of Creative Thinking

by Deborah on December 11, 2013

“It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it.” - Descartes

Developing a Creative BehaviorTechnically speaking, the best way to boost your creativity is to boost the communication flow between your two brain hemispheres: your left and right brains.

Apparently during the creative process, our left and right brains are focused on the problem, exchanging information to and fro in a form of a “partnership.”

Highly creative people are known to have an easy and unobstructed flow of information between their left and right brains.

They know how to increase the stimulation to their brain and expose it to lots of experiential stimulation, stretching and expanding its creative prowess by bringing it to new uncharted waters.

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Serendipity As a Form of Creativity

by Deborah on December 4, 2013

creativitySerendipity.

Even if you have no idea what the word means, the sound of it rolling off your tongue inspires imagination.

In truth, serendipity is an unexpected surprise, a pleasant discovery, a happy accident.

It is those moments in life when something unexplainable happens that potentially changes the course of your life, even if only for a short time.

For serendipity to be present in your life, you must be willing to live in the moment, to take the occasional detour.

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It Takes Creativity To Be Smart

by Deborah on November 27, 2013

Young Students in Art ClassThe ultimate goal of education is to be able to solve problems in the real world.

For many young children this has meant entering the empirical world of hard core academic training at a very young age.

Parents who fear their children will not be able to compete unless they learn reading and arithmetic early in life, are pushing their children into academics when they are very young.

These parents believe that their children will fall behind in elementary school if they are not exposed to “drill and test” programs in their preschools.

The problem with this line of thought is that it is just plain wrong.

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Everyone Has Creative Talent

by Deborah on November 20, 2013

creativityMany people believe either one is born with creativity as part of their style/personality or not and that creativity is a ‘gift’ that some people are lucky enough to have.

Tina Seelig, author of inGENIUS: A Crash Course on Creativity, and award-winning educator at Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, believes everyone is creative.

There are easy and pragmatic steps to learn to ignite your creative fire. You need to discover what captures your imagination and embrace it.

You can use metaphors and analogies as you go about your day.

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creativity at workA few companies in most every industry gain competitive advantage by deploying superior creativity in product development, operations, and communications.

In the computer industry, Apple produces consistently well-accepted products and superior logistics coupled with well-conceived and implemented communications programs.

In the restaurant industry, McDonald’s shines consistently with superior marketing to attract loyal customers. Most of their direct competitors languish.

Why can some companies get consistently better products and creative services than their competitors?

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