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The Four Phases of Pandemic Life

by Lisa Woodruff

Jun 11, 2021 | Episode 414 | 29:40

Today, I want to spend some time reflecting on the COVID -19 pandemic and share some thoughts that a member of this community shared with me. In many ways, getting through the pandemic of the last year and a half is mirrored in the four life phases I teach you about in The Mindset of Organization.

Although we each had unique experiences over the last 18 months, we all experienced the pandemic together, and looking at how these phases of life are applicable to life events can help us to figure out how to get organized when we face unexpected events.

The four phases of life each require different organizational needs. This means, you may be organized in one phase, but struggle in another. There are different kinds of organization you’ll learn throughout your life, and organization is a learnable skill - you can figure out how to be organized in any phase or unexpected event in your life. 

Childhood - birth to 21

Children learn organizational skills on a micro level during childhood. Everything is in one location, they are generally responsible for only a small area like a mini-apartment, and there is a weekly rhythm that helps instill the skills of getting and maintaining organization.

Pandemic - In the first few weeks of the pandemic, we were safe at home for a short term (at least that was the expectation), we had a focus on fun, learning new things, and having a dedicated time to make progress. However, this time passed very quickly, and often whole families were home together and had to rapidly figure out how to balance work, school, and continuously sharing a space. 

Accumulation - moving out of your childhood home until 39 years old

As soon as you leave your parents’ home, you begin acquiring the “stuff” of adulthood and have responsibilities for the whole home. There is also mental, emotional, and educational accumulations of relationships, schooling, and career paths.

Pandemic - Generations continue to be cyclical, and the minimalism peak of 2000 has reversed course and we are headed back towards maximizing. The toilet paper shortages, need for cleaners and disinfectants, and supply chain issues will likely continue to remind people they are no longer able to have what they want as soon as they want it. One solution is to set up storage areas in the home to maintain a little bit more supply or stock on hand. 

Survival - Generally 40-55 years old

As women approach their 40th birthday, there is a mindset shift when they are more comfortable in their own skin and stop caring about what others think. There is also a general acceptance of what and who we are, so people begin to declutter stuff, aspirational expectations, and jobs. By 40, you are truly a “grown up” and feel the responsibility of being an adult. For many of us, our time is not our own and we are sandwiched between elders, children, and our community and work commitments. 

Pandemic - First, I know we did not all survive the pandemic intact. There have been losses of businesses, income, jobs, homes, health and even lives. Those of us who are surviving have been impacted by this difficult, scary, and exhausting time. The greater world is not done with the pandemic, and the results of this worldwide event will be felt for years to come. 

Legacy & Downsizing - 55 and over

Although this generally occurs around the age of 55, moving into a focus on legacy and downsizing is greatly impacted by our life events. I’m becoming a grandma! I have also lost a parent. The lessons we learn about how short life can be, the burdens of leaving too much stuff for others to deal with, and a fatigue that encourages us to minimize our responsibilities are all part of this phase. There can also be an element of wanting to enjoy the reminders of our success and achievements.

Pandemic - For those of us who have survived the pandemic and are beginning to look to the future, we need to look clearly at what our lives will look like going forward. Some people are downsizing habits and routines for a simpler life. Others are making time and space to do more of what has been missed over the last year. 

Tomorrow has never been guaranteed, but the pandemic has given us a renewed appreciation for our opportunities. Give grace, accept grace, and spend time with the people you love when you can!