Three Ways to Use Disruption

I finally moved into my new place last weekend. It was exciting. And frustrating. And exhausting.

Everything a move should be, right?

My husband and I deluded ourselves into thinking that this move was going to be easy, and that made it all the worse. Thanks to his job, we had movers to do the heavy lifting and to pack/unpack all the boxes. It was going to be so awesome. And then it wasn’t.

First, our little studio apartment did not give us much room to work in once all the boxes were inside. And the movers would only unpack onto open surfaces–no cabinets or drawers–so we ran out of space quickly and I just sent them on their way. Which let me with all the boxes. Boxes that had all sorts of weirdness thrown together. A box in the TV area labeled ‘DVDs” was half full of spices. And they were too packed in to move the box to the kitchen to unload them. So my husband came home thinking the move would be over by the time he got here, and found a sea of boxes.

Half the stuff we couldn’t put away anyways, because we weren’t building our closet until the next morning. Then the racks the shelves sit on were too long for the closet space and we had to go back and get them cut. Then we tried to put up the shower rod and hit cement. Three times. Three totally unusable extra holes in our pretty brand new wall.

And there were still boxes everywhere.

My husband works very hard to keep things in order in these situations … and being a sane person who believes in cause and effect, he expects those efforts to actually work. When it didn’t, he freaked out a little. Just a tiny little bit. Okay, we both did. We stared at those three holes in our wall and died a little.

But chaos is my natural state. I thrive on chaos. Chaos is my superpower.

I picked a corner of the room and started picking away at it, one thing at a time. It was not efficient, which drove my husband a little crazy, but it worked.b He got to work breaking down boxes and taking them to the recycling, which spared him of having to watch my painfully unsystemic process.

You never realize how much you rely on your systems until chaos comes in and disrupts them. But we all do it. And it can be pretty painful when they don’t work out. I’ve already blogged about the frustrating disruption to my creative time while I was between homes. It hurts.

But it can be good for us, too. Here’s three ways to use disruption to your benefit:

1. Take a break.
Missing even one day of my writing time drives me a little nutty. I feel the day was wasted, like I just sat by and let an opportunity to take a step closer to my dream just pass me by. So every once in a while, the universe forces me to take a break. This was one of those times.

While we were in moving limbo and staying with some family, I eked out a little time here and there, and managed to keep it up for the most part. But as we closed in on that last week, I hate to admit that disruption won. Too much to do, too little time. And I was too darn tired. And our move-in weekend, I’m not sure I could have even found my notebook and pen if I wanted to.

When I got back to my computer Monday morning, I felt fresh, and the words came out super fast. Sometimes some a breather can help clear the mind.

2. Try on new perspectives and systems.
Standing inside my new smaller place, suddenly some of my stuff didn’t seem so necessary anymore. I’d already gotten rid of a lot of stuff before the move, but unpacking, I was able to purge myself of even more crap. For the first time, I understood the true need and love for The Container Store.

And it didn’t end with things directly related to my move either. Stepping away from my old routines, I could see where I was losing and wasting time. I saw where I could make changes for the better.

Which brings us to …

3. Set new habits (and break bad ones).
It’s often recommended that people trying to set new habits get started while on vacation. The reason for this is that the disruption from your usual habits makes it easier to change them. So it doesn’t have to be a vacation, any time your “normal” is disrupted is an opportunity for change.

I got myself waking up earlier, giving myself more writing time in the mornings. And I’m breaking myself of mindless TV-watching at night, with the goal of using some time in my evenings for writing too.

My move concluded at 12:12 a.m. Saturday night. I collapsed into my bed sore and exhausted. And when we woke up to that clean apartment the next day, all clean and nice with all our stuff in it, it was like Christmas morning.

You can’t control everything, and you’re bound to face chaos in your life. But disruption is good because it lets you move toward a new order–if you use it right, a better order.

How have you used disruption?


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