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Method For: Life Seasons

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Life seasons connect us with others. We may go through them at different times but certain phases are almost universal to the human experience. Think of setting up house for the first time, or later moving to a bigger home as your family grows.  Having children and raising them to adulthood is a long, crazy wonderful season. The empty nest phase is an opportunity for personal growth and discovery. And we all eventually find ourselves navigating the often choppy waters of generational aging as our parents get older and their health declines.

There is an organizational strategy that you can implement to mitigate the challenges and enhance the joys in each season of your life. Each strategy is specific to its season and begins with simple awareness of that unique season’s dynamics. Even just the awareness itself can help you enjoy the season while it’s happening or recognize the bumps in the road for what they are; distractions. Here are 4 of life’s seasons and their accompanying strategies.


Dynamic: Moving can be unsettling and chaotic. Like going to a new grocery store where you don’t know how the aisles are arranged and spend a lot of extra time looking for things. Knowing this dynamic will eventually pass as you settle in and learn the traffic patterns that become visible over time goes a long way toward easing the stress as you wade through boxes of stuff. That may sound obvious, but remind yourself anyway – it really does help.

Smart Strategy: When you move to a new home the best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to intentionally set up systems that help the household run like clockwork, and enable you to easily reset the clock if needed. Your highest priority areas should be the kitchen, bathrooms and bedroom closets. Unless you have some unique privilege life does not slow down when you move and you need these spaces functioning effectively right from the start. Once those key areas are done, move on to secondary spaces, prioritizing by highest trafficked. You can do this all yourself if you have time and capacity, but bringing in a professional organizer can help you really nail it from the start so you can move quickly through the unsettled phase and enjoy your new space faster.

Raising Kids

Dynamic: Raising children to adulthood involves multiple phases within the long season. These are the years in which you will accumulate more Things than any other season; new Things required for each phase! Awareness of this dynamic is really helpful because you will begin to notice all of the incoming Things as they enter your home and how much space they are taking up. Because time passes so quickly in this season it’s easy to let the stuff pile up, but if you have awareness of the growing stack you are more likely to implement the mitigation strategy.

Smart Strategy: Start a purging ritual that happens twice a year when your kids are small. At the beginning you are doing the purging on your own but when the kids are old enough to understand you can involve them in the ritual. Make it official and treat it like a fun activity, including music, treats and a reward at the finish. Time it around major influxes of stuff (holidays, birthdays, etc.) and brand it as ‘making room for the new stuff.’ If you implement this strategy you are not only having fun while doing a chore and spending time with your kids (a Winning Combination for sure) but you are also teaching them the valuable skill of decluttering, which makes future efforts to declutter way less painful.

Empty Nest

Dynamic: Yes you miss your kids, of course you do! Let yourself feel those feelings while at the same time recognizing all of the opportunities that lay in front of you. You now have time, that commodity that was so precious and rare during child raising; the possibilities for what you do with it are endless. Awareness of the inherent dichotomy (you are sad that your kids are gone and happy to have time to spend on yourself – both things are true!) is the first step toward slaying this season. You’ve got this!

Smart Strategy: This strategy is pretty simple, it’s taking the time to think and explore how you would like to spend your newfound time. As mentioned previously, the possibilities are endless so you need to put in some intentional effort to jot down ideas (keep a note page on your phone) and then explore them. Maybe you are spending your new time outside of your home: traveling, hiking or volunteering. Maybe you have an idea that requires space in your home and you need to repurpose room for an office or studio. You can of course float along and see what falls in your lap but intentional exploration that you can ease into as you move through this season’s mini-phases (kids in college, kids move out, retirement, etc.) will make this time in your life less angsty and a lot more fun.

Aging Parents

Dynamic: This one is tough and most people I know fear it. It comes with a lot of stress and big emotions. It is often rife with circumstances that are out of your control. The only helpful awareness factor here is that you are not alone in the experience. We all go through it at some point and chances are your friends are navigating similar waters at the same time you are and you can share stories, wins and losses.

Smart Strategy: Starting hard conversations early is the best way to mitigate strife later. Understanding what quality of life means to your parent(s) and how they envision living the last phase of their life before a forcing function comes along makes it so much easier on everyone involved. You don’t have to have a whole plan figured out, a simple understanding of how their vision for living lines up with their present and future capabilities is a great start. It will probably be multiple conversations, but the first one is the hardest and the most important. I’ve written about it before but Being Mortal by Atul Gwande is such a helpful resource for anyone who finds themselves in or approaching this season.

Each of these seasons commands a deeper dive which I will plunge into at a later date, as there are more strategies and thoughts to share. But I also think it’s helpful to look at them as parts of an aggregate. A whole life. It helps with the awareness piece since it’s often hard to see the forest when we are in the trees, so to speak. A little awareness goes a long way, and if you can layer on the smart strategy for each season you’ll be primed to get the best juice for your life squeeze!

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