Benjamin Franklin was an advocate for: “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” Even before him, it was said on-board ships, with known limitations on size, that one could conserve space and promote tidiness by using this principle.
Have you ever sat down at a desk piled high with business papers, including junk mail? It is almost impossible to concentrate because every sheet of paper you look at requires something from you. It has the effect of a Gatling gun, which tears asunder wherever it is pointed. The higher the pile, the harder it is to sort through. Your attention may wander. Soon you get up and go do something else, leaving the mess the way it is on the desk. Is this counterproductive? Of course, it is. I have to do a primary sort and then work through each stack, one piece of paper at a time until the mess becomes orderly again. The trick is to actually finish each stack in its turn.
A room can have the same effect. If clutter is the order of the day, it usually stays that way. It is a known fact that, when you enter a room, you have 15 seconds to decide to change something. After that, it just becomes part of the background. A simple act, done consistently, can save you more than you can imagine: If it is trash, put it in a trash can while it is in your hand — do not just set it down somewhere. If you are in a car, keep a trash bag handy and throw it away as soon as you can.
If you make a “To Do” list, breaking out each thing you want to change, you will have a higher success rate in accomplishing said change.
There are some work places that require their workers to have only one project on their desk at a time. The rest are in a “Suspense Drawer.” This enables the worker to focus on only one thing at a time. After all, that is the only possibility anyway, with the other projects/ideas kept in a circling pattern (like air traffic controllers, who keep the airplanes at different altitudes and patterns). The trick is to not lose track of the airplanes. I personally use sticky notes, writing down whatever I need to keep in mind before I turn my attention back to whatever it is I am doing at the time. My “To Do” lists also work very well for me.
As one ages, Organization is called cuing: You decide where to put something like car keys, and then you always put them in that place every time so you do not have to go looking for wherever you put them down. It saves a tremendous amount of hassle, as forgetfulness comes naturally to most of us as we grow older, not to mention Dementia in its many forms.
I personally have a bad habit of setting things down wherever I am if my focus changes to something else. As a child, I lost more coats that way until my mother taught me to: “Count noses: If you came in with something, make sure you leave with it.” I still use that to this day, all these years later. It helps me to keep track of car keys, cell phones, sun glasses, etc., when I go into the bank or a store. I know of people who have to do that with their children even! It’s a busy world out there, after all.
I have seen people give small children car keys to play with because they make noise. This gives the child the idea that it is a toy, so he/she naturally grabs them without the parent knowing it. Then the game is on to find keys when one needs them. Can you see what a bad idea this is? Cell phones fall into this category as well because they are ubiquitous to every household now.
Suggestion: Keep the needed items in the same place every time: Car keys, cell phone, medicine, sun glasses, etc. It is a good stress reducer, eliminating misplaced items.
Life rarely gives you the opportunity to be organized. It comes at you full bore, overwhelming one with a plethora of things that require your response. One needs to sit down, take some deep breaths, and begin to quiet the thoughts that come to mind. If you break whatever is overwhelming you down into bite-size pieces, you can get a lot more done, perhaps even surprising yourself.
One method for accomplishing a task is to: 1) Decide what task to do; 2) Gather whatever you need to do it; 3) Do it; 4) Put everything back where it belongs. This works wonders! Actually, most people fail because they do not have “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” This eliminates clutter from happening in the first place.
If, however, one has not decided where to place anything, let along everything, and clutter is everywhere, how do you begin? One item at a time. Decide where this item will “live” and put it there. You can always change its “home” whenever you need to do so. Years ago, a friend of mine was visited by her mother-in-law, who insisted on helping with housework. One day, her husband came home and asked her, “Does the vacuum cleaner live in center of the living room?” Of course, that was where her mother-in-law kept it so she could use it frequently. The vacuum cleaner, of course, returned to its real home in the closet. It is a simple, workable premise.
I have a dear friend who purposely and frequently goes through the house, one drawer or closet at a time, looking for things she no longer uses or needs, giving them away. This includes a freezer, kitchen gadgets, clothes, etc. She is the queen of Simplification. She was a Social Services Director of a Nursing Home, helping family members make some sense of homes filled to the brim with loved ones’ stuff. It is strange, but we work all our lives to acquire it. Yet, in the end, it all must be recycled elsewhere. Sad thought, isn’t it?
Some people are “string savers” who cannot let go of anything. Sometimes they are known as “hoarders.” They have boxes of papers and mementos with sentimental attachment to the simplest of things: A child’s drawing, cards, outgrown clothing, etc. It can actually take an outsider to help that person prioritize and release that stuff. Are you one of these? Do you need help letting go? Or can you just begin to do it?
Organization does not happen by itself. It takes time and focus. But, like the journey of a thousand miles, it begins with one step. Are you willing?
God’s blessings upon your journey!
First Panel: The Organized Closet
Second Panel: The Organized Bathroom
Third Panel: The Organized Kitchen
Fourth Panel: The Organized Office
Fifth Panel: We can all have this kind of tranquility before us if we simply follow mother’s one basic rule of living…
Sixth Panel: Girl on left says, “Mom…?” Mom on right says: “Don’t look up! It spoils everything!”
File boxes on floor have labels: Put Away, File, Review, Misc., etc.