The Surprising Joys Of Getting Organised

The Surprising Joys Of Getting Organised

I am a person who struggles with structure. I don’t like to feel hemmed in (absolutely hated office life with its cubicles and 1pm lunch hours), I don’t like to make plans, I don’t like to make to-do lists, and I loathe project management software. I’ve bought countless numbers of those pretty ‘ladyboss’ style diaries and planners, all promising to help me get my shit together, get organized and crush my goals and business milestones. They are all happily gathering dust on my desk, with precisely zero pages filled in and zero weeks planned. It’s just not how I roll.

On the other hand, and somewhat confusingly, I have come to the conclusion that I am a person who absolutely must have structure in order to retain a modicum of sanity as I juggle my coaching business with motherhood, house renovations, the usual ups and downs of being a human being on this here planet and a burning desire to write stories and share them through the medium of theatre.

You could say there are two entirely different souls jostling for space in the same body and on any given day I struggle to decide which one is the dominant twin!

How am I to reconcile these two very different sides of my personality, seemingly completely at odds with one another?

I have decided to try a little experiment. I’m looking at ways to get more organized without feeling like a slave to plans and deadlines. ‘Structure Lite,’ if you will. This has involved taking some time on a Sunday evening to plan my week – loosely I might add – with the help of a terribly unattractive yet thoroughly functional whiteboard. Ten minutes on a Sunday evening is spent filling in the sections with what I think I might be able to accomplish in any given day. No pressure, just, you know, the tasks are there should I feel inclined to tick them off the list.

And whaddaya know – shit is getting done quicker than it has gotten done for the past year. I have discovered that my planner gives me the impetus I need to get the ‘work’ work done quick smart, so that I can focus on the creative work with a clear head and a free heart, and no little ‘guilt’ monkey sitting on my shoulder screeching that my plays won’t pay the damn mortgage.

While I do think it’s part of the creative sensibility to be a little all over the place, brain jumping from one idea to the next, head firmly in the lovely fluffy clouds, I am realising that lack of structure and planning can cause more anxiety in the long run. Hours can go by in a fog of random Googling, looking at paint colour charts for the spare bedroom, the newest additions to RiseArt or Art Finder, the obligatory check in with Facebook to observe the latest politically motivated scrap between friends – anything but actual work. And before you know it a deadline is looming and bugger all been done.

Today marks my fourth day of obeying the commands of ‘The Whiteboard’ and I can honestly say it is working a lot better than I thought it would. I suddenly seem to have so much more time. I’m not scrabbling to hit those deadlines and I can set aside periods throughout the week that are entirely dedicated to my creative work. As opposed to staring at my script at 10pm when I can barely keep my eyes open and my writing is fuelled by Diet Coke and sheer grit. Nothing wrong with the latter of course, but it is so nice to write from a place of calm, allowing the ideas to download with ease and enjoying the process without any guilt. ‘The Whiteboard’ is here to stay and ‘The Monkey’ has been silenced.

If any of this resonates with you, why not try your own version of ‘The Whiteboard’ – just for a week. See how you get on and feel free to share your experience in the comments!

What Dance Taught Me About Making Decisions

What Dance Taught Me About Making Decisions

I’ll never forget my first pair of ballet shoes. My Mum took me to Nolan’s shoe shop on the high street of our small Irish town and I sat on a little three legged stool transfixed as Mr Nolan brought out several pairs of soft leather slippers in the palest coral pink. This was it – I was really going to be a ballerina!

My dream didn’t work out quite as planned (bum, boobs and thighs not yet welcome in the professional ballet world), but I gained so much from the ten years I spent at the Wicklow School of Ballet, not least the ability to tune in and connect with my body in a way that I am only now, 35 years later, beginning to fully appreciate.

For me, there has always been something other-worldly about dance as an art form and before I discovered meditation it’s probably the closest I came to accessing that blissful, meditative state of ‘everything that’s happening right in this moment is just perfect and just as it should be.’ I loved everything about dance – the physical challenges of exhorting your body to stretch that bit further, kick that bit higher and bend and fold in a myriad of different ways. I loved the powerful emotions that were stirred in me when I danced, and how movement became a vehicle for expressing things I could never convey in words. I loved the sense of achievement I experienced when a sequence of steps became a story, and how the curve of an arm or the arch of a back or the sweep of a leg told you all you needed to know about what lay at the heart of that story. It was and is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

My relationship with my body has not always been an easy one, but as the years have gone by I have come to appreciate more and more the powerful mind/body connection that was cultivated through my years of ballet and modern dance. When I’m uncertain of the answers in my head, I now turn to my body for guidance, and the more I trust in it, the clearer the decisions become. It is comforting and reassuring to know that when my brain is tired and foggy, besieged with emotion or just plain refusing to play ball, I can check in with my body and see what it has to say.

So then, how does this work? Well a good way to start nurturing this mind/body relationship is by simply noticing what you experience physically when you react to things emotionally. Where does fear, anxiety, hurt or anger sit in your body and what physical reaction do these emotions bring about? Do you feel tension in your shoulders, tightness in your chest? Do you hold your breath or start to breathe more quickly? Now you are beginning to notice what happens when you experience dissonance. By contrast, notice how your body feels when something feels resonant – when you are happy, excited, relaxed, chilled, proud or pleased. You will likely feel very different physically. Your body knows there is nothing to fear and nothing to worry about so it defaults to its ‘home base’ state. The more you practice this, the more you’ll be able to turn to your body when you need to make a decision about something that’s enveloped in strong emotion, or when the stakes are high and it feels like the wrong decision might derail you completely. Find a place where you can be still and breathe slowly and steadily for five minutes. Bring your awareness to your physicality and ask your body to give you guidance. You’ll be surprised how quickly it responds.