Knowing the difference between ‘mindful’ and ‘intentional’ will enable you to smoothly organize your home and work projects.

What do you think of when you hear “mindful” or “intentional”? The meaning may be the same for you, for both of them (that’s how I am in a yoga or meditation session), but there’s actually a difference. Knowing that difference will improve your ability to smoothly organize your home and manage work projects.

Put simply, the difference is this…

  • When you’re “mindful”, you’re observing – without judgment, and with curiosity – in the moment.
  • “Intentionality” is about having the determination to achieve your goal.

The order is important, too… You need to be mindful about what you want before you can come up with an intention – how will you know how to get where you’re going if you don’t know the destination?

In organizing-speak, mindfulness means being aware of how you interact with your space. Or noticing how you work before being able to decide what systems you will change. Let’s look at this in a bit more detail:

Notice how you interact with your space

Walk around your home slowly, with fresh eyes, as if you were someone visiting for the first time. What delights you? if it was your house (remember, you’re a visitor!), what would you change?

It’s good to do this at different times of the day (to see the effect – and lack – of natural light). It’s also good to do this at different times during the week – e.g. at the weekend when everyone is home, versus when you’re in the home on your own. This is a fun activity to do with your family as well – pretend you’re visiting an open house that’s on the market; what makes you go “ooh” and what makes you go “eeuw”!

Notice how you work

Think of a project you worked on recently – home or office. Which aspects did you enjoy? Which did you avoid? What distractions did you notice?

Are the distractions something that you have control over? For example, you have the tv on in the background, electronic devices close by. Are they good distractions or bad distractions? Looking at trees out the window is actually a good way to boost focus.

Managing distractions is especially important for kids – their brains are still developing and one function they may not yet have a handle on is how to maintain focus.

What methods work best for you to organize your work? Do you use a to-do list? How do you prioritize? How do you keep track of what you and others need to do?

Think also about something you learned recently – how did you learn that thing? Was it by looking at an infographic or chart (you’re a visual learner)? Was it by listening to a podcast? (you’re an auditory learner)? Was it by taking the principles and applying them so you can learn for yourself (you’re a kinesthetic learner)? Do you learn better when you combine different methods for taking in information (e.g. taking notes as you watch and listen to a webinar)?

What now, amiga?

Once you’ve become mindful of what does/doesn’t work for you, you can set some intentions. For example “Today I’m going to write my blog post,” “Today I’m going to sort my shoes,” or “I intend to be more focused today than yesterday”. On a larger scale you might say “I intend to have an organized desk at the beginning of every week”,” or “I intend to have a new job within the next 12 months”.

And, once you figure out what learning and focusing methods work well for you, you can also research apps and coaches that can help you be more productive. I have a tip sheet that will help with focus – just email me at Ellia@MindfulOrganizing.NET with Pomodoro in the subject line.

Some people are fine setting up new systems on their own. Others need help. If you need help setting up systems for being more organized and productive, let’s jump on a free, 20-minute phone consult to talk about what would be helpful for you. Just email Ellia@MindfulOrganizing.NET with a few times that work for you, or schedule direct at

Ellia Harris

Organizing & Productivity Coach

Through her company Mindful Organizing, Ellia works with professionals who are stressed by their messy home, scattered brain, or project deadlines. She helps them intentionally change how they use their home and their head so they have more time, peace, and results in their life. Ellia offers both onsite and virtual (video call) sessions.

With a background in nonprofit project and team management, group training and executive coaching in the US and the UK, Ellia transitioned to professional organizing in 2015 with a mission of helping people achieve their goals and live up to their potential, by being more organized and productive.

If you’re curious about whether she could be a good resource for you, Ellia offers a free 20-minute phone consult. Contact her at  Ellia@MindfulOrganizing.NET with your preferred dates/times to schedule a call.