During the sixth week studying nonstop for my doctoral candidacy exam—a two-day test that required nine hours of essay writing—I had constructed a three-inch binder filled with notes, articles, and outlines. I had decided I wanted to be a psychologist when I was 15 years old, and by doing well on this exam, I would gain official entry into the doctoral program in clinical psychology. It would be worth it when it was all over—when all of my studying, dedication, and striving to be the best got me to this place.

I was thinking about this as I sat on my bed in my 300-square-foot studio apartment with the binder on my lap, when I realized that I had been studying for a while and needed a break. I went into the kitchen to get a drink of water, but my mind kept going back to the topics I had been poring over: “What was the outcome of that depression study?” “Who developed that anxiety disorders assessment?” “I have to get myself organized if I am going to do well on this exam!” Then, as I was finishing my water and looking at the cupboard, a seemingly unrelated thought occurred to me: The glasses in the back of the cupboard weren't getting used as much as the ones in the front. I started to grab the glasses in the back, moving them to the front, keeping track of which glasses were recently used and which were not. It seemed ridiculous to me at the time that I hadn't thought of this before. “Organizing the outside organizes the inside—and I need to be organized if I am going ...

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