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The following is an excerpt from the book Ready to Learn
by Stan Goldberg, Ph.D.
Published by Oxford; January 2005;$28.00US; 0-19-516754-6
Copyright © 2005 Stan Goldberg, Ph.D.

Get Organized

Disorganization becomes a fertile ground for stress. It can be internal, external, or both. Regardless of its location, it can be a real pain. Not knowing what you want to do or having your thoughts disorganized can cause endless grief I worked with a family of five whose lives were out of control. They had one child with a learning problem, another who was on the way to becoming a juvenile delinquent, and the jobs of each parent required extra hours away from the home. There was much in their lives that couldn't be changed. It was impossible to schedule "problem days," like the psychology professor. Taking breaks in their occupations wasn't possible. He was a surgeon and she was a trial lawyer. Open-heart surgery and embattled court interactions are not the places to say, "I'm sorry, I need to go to the bathroom now." Although there was much they had no control of, it was still possible to reduce stress. Their lives were more like a child's room after every toy had been played with. I suggested even though they couldn't do anything about the amount of things they were required to do, they could become more organized. Being organized reduces the energy necessary for doing things. The same amount is done, but you've spent less emotionally and physically accomplishing it. Both being in fields requiring a great deal of precision, I asked them to take their sense of organization required to perform effectively in the work setting and apply it in the home. We started with simple things, such as, how they got ready for work, how they ate, and even how they drove. They did the same number of things, but now they were done more efficiently. Instead of wondering what would be made for dinner each night and then running out to the supermarket to get ingredients, I suggested the menu for the week be planned over the weekend, and all ingredients bought on Sunday. Some of the prep work, such as cutting the vegetables could also be done in advance when they had more time. Since at least 60 percent of the time required to complete a meal is preparations, Monday through Friday meals would become less stressful and time consuming. Instead of deciding who would be responsible for household chores when the need arose, everyone would have a weekly assignment. There were other suggestions, all of which were designed to increase organization. By creating an organized house, they found their daughter was better able to function in a wide variety of activities. The organization surrounding her made it easier to do a number of things that her learning problems made more difficult.

Having disorganized thoughts can be as distressful as living within a disorganized environment. You're trying to deal with ten different things, each having a different deadline and varying demands. As you try getting closure on one, the others start impinging on your time and thoughts. You never seem feet that you have a handle on anything. When your disorganization is both internal and external, chaos reigns. It's as if you have no place to find peace.
when there is both internal and external peace, a magical condition arises that is greater than the sum of the two. With internal organization you
whole and at ease with your body. It was described as a warrior wearing a suit of armor. External organization is the creation of an environment in which everything is in harmony with what you need. When both external and internal organization exists, you are in control and your stress level decreases.

Copyright © 2005 Stan Goldberg, Ph.D.