Your surroundings have immense power over your inner life. Clutter and distractions in the environment around you can quickly turn peace into disorder, confusion, and chaos. Some distractions are obvious—like crying children, noisy coworkers, or flashing lights—but many are far more subtle.

As I was looking for a particular shirt in my closet last week, I found myself growing increasingly frustrated & irritable. The task in front of me seemed simple, and yet I was physically & emotionally drained. I took a step back to assess the situation and realized that I'd been confronted with an unnecessary distraction.

It seemed every piece of clothing in that closet was hung on a completely different style of hanger. That might not seem like a big deal, but as my eyes scanned the clothing looking for a particular color or pattern, I couldn't help but be distracted by the numerous colors among the hangers themselves.

Without further ado, I took every article of clothing out of that closet and hung each piece on the same style of black, plastic hanger. A subtle difference, yes, but now I was faced with order where before there was chaos.

That small change gave me a sense of control over my environment and helped me to realize just how many unnecessary distractions I'd allowed to creep into my life.

Often we ignore the details of the atmosphere around us, especially once we've spent a lot of time in the same space. Distractions creep in, slowly but surely, and we begin to accept our environment as it is—rather than continually fighting off chaos and disorder.

This past week my wife and I completely reorganized our home office.

Despite the fact that we had a very full week ahead of us, we stopped everything, stayed up late, and pushed around heavy boxes & furniture until we were satisfied with the results. We even bought a new desk and installed it on the same day.

It wasn't fun—and it wasn't easy—but when we were done we had a completely new workspace, and we'd won a small victory against chaos & disorder.

You have the power to fight off chaos & disorder, but sometimes the task seems overwhelming or impossible. The only way to overcome this is to focus on what you can change first. Start small, and built momentum from there. Before long, you'll be in control of your surroundings and can maximize your ability to focus, create, and find peace.

What small changes can you make to fight off chaos or disorder?

About

John Meese is the author of the #1 bestseller Survive and Thrive: How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One). An entrepreneur himself, John is on a mission to eradicate generational poverty by equipping entrepreneurs with the tools and training they need to build thriving businesses from scratch. He is the CEO of Cowork Inc, co-founder of Notable, and regularly publishes interviews and insight at JohnMeese.com.

12 thoughts on “The Chaos-Fighting Power of Small Change

  1. Loved this post! I deal with this often – trying to regain control over clutter and distractions. I do it both in my life, and online.

    In my life, going paperless has been a priority. I bought an Evernote Scanner, and it helps keep my brain organized. I wrote about it here, in attempting to have a paperless house. http://www.sevenminutescientist.com/2015/01/03/who-else-wants-a-paperless-house/

    I do it online, by getting rid of all my tabs through OneTab. It takes all my opened tabs, and condenses them down to one list, saving me memory, and space! http://www.sevenminutescientist.com/2015/05/24/chrome-extensions-teachers/

    Cheers, John! I’m looking forward to the hanger idea, and the desk! Those are both on my list (need to make them two minute projects 🙂

    Amy

    1. Love it, Amy! An Evernote Scanner is definitely on my wish list, though I haven’t taken the plunge yet.

      Keep up the good fight against chaos!

  2. I try and spend a few minutes a day to clean or organize my house/office. It allows for a constant clean house and eases the stress a little. Great post!

  3. Visual clutter is powerful – and overwhelming. Where to start? Recently, I have been setting a TIMER which has revolutionized tasks such as cleaning out my closet. Set for 5 minutes and get busy. That seems to be a doable, non-painful amount of time. Amazingly, two more sets of 5 minutes, and I was done. Ahhh! (And I’ve done the matching coat hanger trick for years. That’s the first thing I noticed in this photo!)

    1. Glad to hear I’m not the only one matching hangars! It seemed like a simple change, but made a world of difference. That timer idea is awesome, Lois. It’s a great way to set short, achievable goals.

      1. Check out Huggable Hangers (by Joy Mangano) on HSN. This is one of their top selling items. You’ll never go back to plastic hangers again!

  4. I am very affected by my surroundings. In college, I always had to clean my desk or room before starting any big project. I get kinda paralyzed or stuck when there is too much clutter around me. My house is often messy and cluttered but when it is actually clean and de-cluttered I feel more peaceful and less stress. I love when things are organized and in their places, it is just hard to find the time to keep them that way, especially when I am not the only one messing them up!

  5. Just one more step in the closet can be turn all hangars backwards and when you put something back put in in rightwards. Then a year from now give everything that’s still backwards to a charity.

  6. Thank you SO much for this timely blog post son! I have been feeling stagnated by the clutter and chaos in my life that I have accepted & acclimated to. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the amount of books, papers, and clothing there is to deal with. I thought why not start with where I am right now. I’m on my computer! And my inbox has 55,938 unorganized emails. I often miss important emails because I’m on too many lists and I get so many emails that I just scroll past without even reading. I can’t do it all in one day, but I can create some files and order to my inbox.

    Also, Rebekah is going to help me today to declutter a bunch of curriculum I don’t need so that we can sell it at the used curriculum sales coming up. That’s a start! It’s such a joy to my heart that you have your Rachel as a helpmeet to be such an encouragement to you! Love, Mom

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