Discover more from Your House Machine
How you spend your time is who you are
But don't worry, you can change!
Before I dive into this week’s episode…a quick note.
For whatever reason I’ve been on a philosophical bent lately, and so you’re getting a lot of Deep Thoughts(TM) from me these days. Maybe it’s the changing of the seasons, back to school time, maybe it’s some stressful family circumstances I’m dealing with, but I’ve been doing more reflecting than organizing lately.
I know we love tactical advice for home organizing — where to put all the stuff?? I do too so fear not, I’m definitely going to get back into that soon.
If you’re missing the hardcore tactics here are some greatest hits (plus many more on my Best Of page):
On to this week’s Deep Thoughts(TM)
Thought exercise: you go through your whole life telling people you’re an ax murderer. But you’ve never murdered anyone with an ax. Are you really an ax murderer?
This is a weird prompt I know, but I can’t stop thinking about this. What you DO is who you ARE.
Intentional living is so much about living aligned with your values, so I’ve been thinking a lot about values lately. It’s so easy to slip into a disconnect between what you believe or say you value and how you actually spend your time.
I was listening to the Tim Ferris podcast—a guilty pleasure despite the high eyeroll quotient—in which he interviewed Sam Corcos, CEO of Levels, a health tech startup I admire. Sam is a very kind person (I’ve met him), but is also a bit of a robot. (The kind where everything the owns can fit in a backpack and he outsources relationship management to assistants.) As it happens, robots are amazing at optimization and we can learn a lot from them. He’s the one who put the ax murderer problem into my head.
Sam said he likes to do an exercise with people where they come up with a set of values they believe in. He goes on:
And then it’s a bit of a trick question because then you say, “All right, let’s go over your calendar and how you spent your time.” And they’ll say, “Oh, my values are friends, family, this that.” It’s like, “Oh, how’d you spend your time? It’s YouTube, Instagram. Did you notice how none of these things match?”
Your actual priorities are consuming news. Your actual priority is doing sports, which is fine, there’s nothing wrong with that. But empirically, your priorities are this. How you spend your time are your priorities. And that’s a difficult thing for people to understand.
Gulp. Gives you some food for thought, doesn’t it?
If you need help getting clarity on your core values, I came across a pro organizer, Ronald L Banks, who believes one’s values are foundational for any attempt to organize your life. I really like his approach, for instance: “Understanding what you value is more important than an empty home.”
He offers a free core values worksheet (you sign up with your email to receive it — and I can vouch that his emails are infrequent but awesome).
My top values right now are health, family, and community. I’m relieved to find that I generally spend my time in alignment with these values. Health comes first because without it, I don’t have energy to invest in the other stuff.
Things that are non-values right now for me: travel, adventure, novelty, work. Those used to be really important to me, but I’m in a different life phase now. Sometimes I’ll see my friends posting on Instagram about amazing vacations, and I’ll start daydreaming a travel plan in my brain. But then I stop myself. Unless we’re going to be visiting family, this just isn’t the season for us to be off traipsing around the world. (And to be clear, no shade on amazing vacations — go for it if that’s in alignment for you!)
Instead, I spend time on my front porch. I read somewhere that a great way to build community is to just spend time in front of your house. So I try to spend as much time as possible on our porch, walking around the block, and just generally being “out” in our community. It works like magic! We meet neighbors, build relationships and familiarity, and feel so much more rooted and connected in our lives.
It helps having young kids who need to be outside a lot — our daily activities include scooting and walking around the neighborhood to visit our neighbors and the local cats, turtles, and bunnies we’ve discovered in yards near us.
So I ask you, reader: how are you spending your time? There are obviously some non-negotiables: go to work, feed your family and pets, etc. But if you have enough leisure to read this newsletter you have some “flex time” and the question to ponder is: is that time spent in alignment with your values?
This all ties into home organization as well — how you set up your space should also reflect your values. Here’s more about how I’ve been trying to rejigger our house to align better with our values:
My cousin is an entrepreneur and business coach who emphasizes getting clear on the vision for your life, and holding up decisions you face against that vision. Her story about how she transformed her life to align with her vision is inspiring. Getting clear on vision/values somehow makes all the noise fade away, and the “right action” for you comes into focus.
What are you doing (or planning to do or struggling to do) to bring life into alignment with your values?