My thoughts on organization

I remember when I wrote something to the effect of, “I’ll post my thoughts on organization on January 26,” which would have been this past Monday. What a funny joke! I meant “[the week of] January 26.”

What does it mean to you to organize? Is it a wholly physical experience? How do you do it? Is it always a process, or do you ever feel it’s achieved?

Man, I struggle with this, day and night. I have tried a number of methods and tricks to help me organize and stay on top of all of my calendars and stuff. I have always abandoned these methods and tricks after a few days because I don’t see enough progress; I am a perfectionist– I am absolutely all-or-nothing, black-or-white (which is so baffling, because I work in a process-oriented approach). I’ve gone from writing up daily schedules that outline what I think I should do in half-hour increments. But, then I feel like a failure when I get up with my son at 7:00, instead of get up before him at 6:00– in other words, I almost always feel behind within the first hour of the day. This being said, the 10% of the time when I do follow the schedule, I feel absolutely powerful. And then I wake up the following day.

My experience with organization is not wholly physical. I have to have time set aside in my head to do it, which is the problem. I need to make it rote. I try Janice Lindstrom’s trick about using a website, a tool, to guide me in organizing and clearing things away on a daily basis. But a few days later, when I see that the first area I addressed is riddled with clutter once again, I feel defeated and stop. I’m really excited about the quote Lisa Skarbakka shared, “creative minds are rarely tidy.” I take that to heart.

I met recently with Katie Lee of The Small Change Project. We determined that paper– receipts, MAIL, invoices, etc.– are my biggest trouble. What I should do is set aside a couple of hours every week to scan and shred. Sounds good. But I have yet to do it.

At the national conference in November, during one of the business owners’ mixers, I met a music therapist who is also a mom. I complained, as I am wont to do, about my trouble keeping my life in line, and she said that essentially I just have to embrace it. Is that because I’m a mom? Or a business owner? Or both? Or because I’m “creative?”

I don’t have any answers for myself. I suppose I should trust the process that is the 24 hours in a day– the day will start, the day will end. With or without my life in line.

Guest post: Lisa Skarbakka

This week’s post comes to you from Lisa Skarbakka, MT-BC.

What does it mean to you to organize? Is it a wholly physical experience? How do you do it? Is it always a process, or do you ever feel it’s achieved?

When I was a kid, my dad had a sign on his door that said “creative minds are rarely tidy.” That was a convenient excuse for me! I think of organization in terms of the law of entropy: everything in the universe moves toward chaos unless energy is applied to bring it to a more ordered state. Everything falls apart unless we apply energy toward keeping it together. That applies to our relationships as well as all the other “stuff” of our life. That’s what I tell myself when I spend an hour cleaning out my car on the weekend and it looks like a disaster zone again by Wednesday! For me, the hardest part of organizing is getting started; once I’m actually doing it, it’s kind of pleasant, especially if I’m listening to a really great podcast. I often resist it, though, because it seems to take so much energy, and there are a million other more exciting things I’d like to do, and it’s never “done,” at least not for long. The people I know who are very organized seem to have consistent habits around it, so they do not ever have to decide to organize. I imagine it doesn’t take up as much energy when it’s a habit…I say “imagine” because I am not there right now!  But, little by little, I’ve become gradually more organized over time as I notice that I really do feel better when my “stuff” is in some kind of order (not to mention anyone who has to share space with me). I am setting an intention now to let go of labeling myself as “a disorganized person.” Our habits are not our identity; they are habits, and with a lot of intention and practice we can change them.

Lisa works as a hospice music therapist in and around Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Thank you, Lisa!

Guest post: Janice Lindstrom

This week’s post comes to you from Janice Lindstrom, MA, MT-BC.

What does it mean to you to organize? Is it a wholly physical experience? How do you do it? Is it always a process, or do you ever feel it’s achieved?

When I am “organized”, it means that surface clutter is mostly put away, there is a reasonable plan for my day, and I feel productive. For me, it’s a mental and physical experience. When my home is in order and my schedule is do-able, I can think better and I feel better. My outside environment reflects my inner mind. So when there is chaos in my home, I feel lost and adrift or irritable and frustrated. I think it is always a process to stay organized. When my routines are in place, my home and thoughts flow better. When they aren’t, I get stuck, mentally and physically. The best system I’ve found for staying organized, while being nice to myself, is through FlyLady.net. I am able to use her principles in other areas of my life, like my music therapy business, and finding that mythical work-life balance.

I have plans to share some tips that work for me for organization, that are music therapy-related, on my website, Heartbeatmusictherapy.net. I haven’t yet figured out my routine for this yet, but it’s something I’m passionate about, so it will manifest very soon!

Janice works in private practice in Dallas, Texas. You likely know her from her radio show, The Music Therapy Show with Janice Lindstrom.

Thank you, Janice!

Welcome to the new year

I don’t make resolutions to speak of, so I don’t have anything specific to focus on for the next 12 months. I’m going to break down my professional-life goals into monthly attempts at achievement. My achievement attempt for January is, no shocker, “organize.” My desk is a nightmare (I really have nightmares about it), I dislike most of the templates I use for documentation, and in a much broader stroke, I still don’t feel that I’ve adequately wrapped my head around my definition of music therapy. What do I do? I have a few definitions that I like, but I’d like to hone my self-identification and further strengthen my stance in a theoretical orientation. I often wonder if I’ll ever feel that I know fully who I am as a therapist (or person), but perhaps that’s not a bad thing.

Writing prompt

What does it mean to you to organize? Is it a wholly physical experience? How do you do it? Is it always a process, or do you ever feel it’s achieved?

Write up your thoughts. Send them to me by January 15 and let me know if you’d like them published here. I’ll have mine up on January 29.

Writing prompt: Consider your theoretical orientation

This past Saturday, I attended a fantastic presentation called “An Overview of the Theories that Inform Music Therapy Practice,” given by Kathleen Murphy, PhD, MT-BC and James Hiller, PhD, MT-BC. Many students and interns were in attendance, but many professionals were there, too. Drs. Murphy and Hiller touched on five theoretical orientations in only an hour and a half, really delving into only two of the five. They discussed the role of the client, the role of the therapist, and the role of the music within the theories. The approaches that were considered at length were the behaviorist approach and the psychodynamic approach, because these two theories are quite different. Other theories were humanist/client-centered, music-centered, and cognitive-behavioral theory. As much as I am enthralled with the psychodynamic approach, I think I actually work inside the humanist orientation given my clientele. I found the whole presentation and break-down of roles within each theory to be clarifying.

My writing prompt for April is to consider your theoretical orientation, or combination thereof. One point the presenters made was that a therapist cannot consider himself “eclectic” without a foundation in one orientation.

Feel free to send me your words. I’ll look them over and have them up by the end of the month. Write on.

Writing prompt: Define vision

I venture to guess that almost everyone in any profession or occupation has some semblance of a vision for himself. Over these past few days, when it’s still well below freezing and even degrees below zero here in Minneapolis, I’ve had some trouble getting ahead of my day. One vague goal I have (I call it “vague” because I don’t really know how to measure it) is to design my day and not let it and all its circumstances drag me unwillingly all the way to bedtime. Sometimes this happens. I suppose having a young baby has something to do with this, but nonetheless, I want to be the designer.

What is my vision? I’d been out of the habit of writing down my schedule and my goals and my lists and my innumerable want-t0/need-to-dos. I’d been typing them into my phone or my Google calendar. While this is functional, I don’t experience the act of planning and seeing as I do when I write it down. This week, I’m trying to get back into the habit of writing. Journaling is still a far-off activity at this point, but even writing out what I want to do with my day is serving me well. I haven’t clarified my vision for my business yet, even though Empower U Academy has challenged its members to do so. I have vision for my clients, but for my career as a whole? I have not written it out.

This being said, my writing prompt for March is to define your vision. I invite you to write one sentence, one paragraph, one page, or more, if you’d like. This doesn’t have to be pertaining specifically to your professional life. This can be even a very short-term vision. There is so much writing out there about finding your vision, so let this be some practice for that act. Contact me with your submission. Have it in to me by March 15.

Find January’s guest submission here.