Book Review - The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down Part II

As professional organizers we try to read and educate ourselves continually on new ways and techniques to organize, as well as new trends in the industry. The book, The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down is continually mentioned by our clients and fellow organizers. In that regard, we thought it was worth a second look. The book written by Haemin Sunim discusses mindfulness and “how to be calm and mindful in a fast paced world.” You may ask how this applies to organizing, and we can assure you it has EVERYTHING to do with organizing.

The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down

Mindfulness is about being in the present moment. It is important to not worry about the past or dwell on the future. In our fast paced lives, that is a skill that is hard to do. Think of all the times you said “wish I could get more organized, but every time I try I just feel so overwhelmed.” Or, “this project is hopeless,” or, “I’ll try again tomorrow”. You are not alone. Mindfulness brings patience, therefore we are more kind to ourselves. We realize that things take time and do not happen overnight. We learn to treat ourselves and others with compassion.  Mindfulness teaches us to be open-minded. When we are open-minded we explore options we did not consider before.

The book is written in 8 chapters; Rest, Mindfulness, Passion, Relationships, Love, Life,

The Future, and Spirituality. Each chapter opens with an essay, then short messages, then a shorter essay, followed by another series of short prompts for meditation. The book is interesting and easy to read with many outstanding tips on how to improve one’s daily life.

Some of Sunim’s insights are as follows:

p.41 “On a piece of paper, write down everything that stresses you out. List everything you ought to do including minor things-watering plants, replying to emails. The stresses are now contained on a piece of paper, away from your mind. So relax tonight, tell yourself you will go through the list tomorrow, item by item, starting with the easiest. When you open your eyes the next morning, your mind and body will be ready.”

p. 68 “Do not lament that the world has changed. Do not resent that people have changed. Evaluating the present through the memoires of the past can cause sadness. Whether you like it or not, change is inevitable. Embrace and welcome it.”

p. 212 “ Dream big but start small. A small adjustment can have a big effect on your life. For example, if you want to be healthier, then start by going to bed a half hour earlier. If you want to lose weight then start by drinking more water instead of soda. If you have an important project to complete, then start by getting your desk organized”.

The majority of the concepts in the book are simple such as slowing down, maintaining good relationships and having self-compassion. Mindfulness has shown to increase self-control, objectivity and improve concentration, which are all important organizing skills.  Truly if we all could practice mindfulness, our stresses would be less and our lives would be more productive, calm, compassionate and full.

Haemin Sunim

Haemin Sunim was born in South Korea. Educated UC Berkeley, Harvard and Princeton. He is a Zen Buddhist teacher a former professor of Buddhism at Hampshire College. His books have sold over 3 million copies.