Disclosure: I received this book at no charge in exchange for my post.
There 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.
Jennifer 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.
Click HERE to buy The Life Organizer!
The Life Organizer by Jennifer Louden
January 2014 • Personal Growth • Paperback • 256 pages
Price: $15.95 • ISBN 978-1-60868-245-4