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How To Use Outer Order To Create Inner Calm: 3 Simple Secrets From Gretchen Rubin

outer order inner calm

It drives me crazy when weight loss and fitness “experts” only focus on the food you’re eating – as if we live in a bubble. 

Everything impacts everything! When you’re fit, it’s easier to be happy. When you’re happy, it’s easier to be fit. 

When you’re organized, it’s easier to focus on your health and fitness:

  • When my kitchen is messy, I tend to order in food more.
  • When my laundry is piling up, I’m less likely to exercise because I don’t have any clothes to wear.

Everything is connected. Sometimes, solving the smallest tasks, like putting the remote in the right spot (or creating one), can have an enormous impact on your day, your mindset, and your health.

We get a disproportionate amount of energy when we solve these minor but recurring annoyances. It’s like a huge weight off our shoulders, and it allows us to focus on more important things.

According to my friend and best-selling author Gretchen Rubin, there’s a strong connection between the clutter clogging our lives and how we feel. 

Gretchen says, “In my study of happiness, I’ve realized that for most of us, outer order contributes to inner calm.”

How do the small things in your life, like a messy desk, unmade bed, or dirty dishes, affect you?

Now, think about this…

How would your day, mood, and your happiness improve if you just set aside a few minutes to create more order?

3 Simple Ways To Create An Inner Calm

Don’t Let Perfect Be The Enemy Of Good

What stops you from organizing your closet…

  • Is it the sea of shoes lining the floor?
  • Those shirts you bought on vacation that you just can’t throw away?
  • The thought that you need an entire day to make any progress?

That’s perfectionism at its best! If you don’t have the time, why bother? (Are there any fellow recovering perfectionists out there?)

But “good” is always better than “perfect.”

The truth is: You don’t need an entire day to make progress. You don’t need a whole hour or even ten minutes. All it takes is one simple action. Next time you’re facing the beast, don’t focus on how long the battle will last. Instead, ask yourself: What’s one action I can take to make progress?

At MyBodyTutor our mantra for crushing perfectionism is: Progress, not perfection.

Make It Fun

Gretchen says, “This approach is arbitrary, but that’s one reason that it’s effective: it helps us to see our environment in a new, playful way.”

When is the last time you turned something into a game? I bet you were surprised at how fun it actually was.

There’s a reason our most successful clients schedule time for fun: The more fun we have, the less we’ll rely on food and drink to create it for us.

Make a game of it. See how big of a dent you can make on the pile of clothes stacked on the chair, and letters piling up on the desk.

Pull out your phone, set a 10-minute timer, and see what happens. In fact, I challenge you to give yourself a 3…2…1 countdown and get to it!

Follow The “One-Minute Rule”

Here’s how Gretchen explains it, “Do any task that can be finished in less than one minute, without delay. Hang up a coat, read a letter and toss it, put a document in a file, throw away a pen that doesn’t work, put the toothpaste back in the medicine cabinet and close the door.”

Is there a task you’re dreading that would take less than a minute to finish? Do it and be done. We often spend more energy resisting a task than if we were to get it done.

The challenge with letting things build is they become…daunting!

The “One-Minute Rule” is the antidote. As tempting as it is to say, “I’ll do everything once…”, it’s more manageable to do a little every day.

I find that when I stay on top of these small but impactful tasks, it allows me to do everything better. It makes staying consistent with my diet and exercise a little easier too.

Is there a “one-minute” action you can take to improve your health? Maybe you put a gym visit on the calendar, hire a health a coach, or set your walking shoes next to the door.

The Takeaway

Everything we do impacts everything else – from coming home to a perfectly made bed to the joy of finding the remote control is exactly where it should be.

When you create order in the things around you, you may just find that you’re a little happier, the day is a little easier, you feel an inner calm—even making it easier to avoid emotional eating.

I highly recommend Gretchen’s Outer Order, Inner Calm. It’s jam-packed with helpful and practical tips to bring order to your environment. Like her other bestselling books, Gretchen doesn’t believe in a one size fits all approach. Instead, she believes it’s more effective to learn about yourself first and then tailor your approach. The questions Gretchen includes throughout the book are so helpful in gaining self-knowledge. Sometimes, the best advice is in the form of questions. This is one of the ways that makes her book so different from the other organizing/de-cluttering books.

“By getting rid of the things I don’t use, don’t need, or don’t love, as well as the things that don’t work, don’t fit, or don’t suit, I free my mind—and my shelves—for what I truly value.” —Gretchen Rubin

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