Order /ˈɔːdə/ noun: a state in which everything is in its correct or appropriate place.
It may seem slightly absurd given the times we are in to suggest you get your life in order. It may seem like something utterly possible to achieve when so little is within your control. The truth is, however, the best time to get things in order is always NOW. Life will always throw things at you, and procrastination is always lurking in the shadows ready to ambush you. If you can get a step ahead even in these challenging circumstances, you really will be a step ahead when opportunities begin to arise.
Why do I need order in my life?
For some, the concept of order may seem obvious in its relevance as a tool for finding calm in the chaos of the everyday and creating structure and space in which to develop. Others, however, may feel that the concept of order is almost sacrilegious and goes against everything they are striving to achieve. In particular, this is something I’ve seen many a time with people who have set out on a mission to become more free and spontaneous. For them, challenging routine and order is often a key element of their philosophy, and they will often vehemently defend the lack of order in their lives.
If you are following a typical path that includes things like progressing your career, building a business, raising a family, securing a home and such like, then you will probably be aware how important it is to have order – even if this is easier said than done.
So here’s the curveball – if your ultimate goal is a life of freedom and you have shunned the rat race and material belongings in favour of other ideals (think Life Below Zero, Building Off The Grid…), then order might just be even more important. Why? Because it is in establishing order that you create the space in which to live, the space in which to truly pursue your dreams.
Paradoxical as it may sound, order is the foundation of freedom.
How do I restore and maintain order?
It can be a challenge for anybody to establish and maintain order, especially when life seems to demand so much from us. But there are many simple ways to restore order. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Do your maths
Whatever it is you are trying to achieve, ultimately money – like it or not – will be a significant factor in deciding the outcome. Although you may well be driven by anything but financial gain, doing your maths and knowing exactly how much money you need coming in or in reserve is key to being able to take the leap into any new opportunity.
Knowing how much you can survive and operate on at a minimum also serves another purpose – it allows you to establish exactly how many hours you actually need to work – and therefore how much of your time you can free up towards working on the big plan.
2. Eliminate choice
We are so lucky in the modern world to have so much choice, right? It gives us so much freedom right? Wrong. The excessive choices we face, be it in terms of food, fashion, material possessions or entertainment for example, the harder our lives become to manage. Sometimes it is the abundance of choice alone that causes everything to descend into chaos. You go to the shop to buy food, but faced with so many alternatives you can’t decide what to buy and in the end lose both time and money due to choice. You wake up in the morning and waste precious time deciding what you should wear… you get my drift.
So how can you go about eliminating choice in order to gain freedom? Here are two approaches I deploy. First, set a menu. I cook for my family on a twelve day plan (12 days is arbitrary, but avoids the “oh no, it’s Wednesday, not pumpkin soup again…”) scenario. Because the menu is planned, so too is the shopping list. You wouldn’t believe how quickly I get around those aisles and out again!
You can even take this concept further and apply it to your appearance. It’s not by coincidence that monks wear the attire they do. Although there is also a spiritual philosophy behind it, the underlying concept is much the same.
3. Establish a routine
There are certain things in life that simply must be done. Eat, sleep, rave, repeat – you are probably familiar with the many variations on this. And it captures life exactly how it is. Having a routine for the things that are unavoidable means you can reign them in and keep them on a tight leash so that they don’t overflow and flood into your ‘free’ time which is where the real magic happens.
Set a specific window for shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. But also, set specific slots for the things that really matter to you, such as a workout, meditation, yoga, etc. We tend to treat such things as a bonus to be enjoyed ‘if we get time’, but the truth is they are much more important and deserve to be right up there with the rest of your daily duties. I’ll cover this topic in more detail when I discuss routine.
There are of course many other ways to create order, but this is my big three, and thanks to this I am able to maintain the order I need to have the absolute freedom to craft the lifestyle of my choice. Not convinced? Give it a try and see what happens.