Homeschoolers are constantly looking for ways to organize their homes and lives.
Because home is also school, clutter tends to take over very quickly. All clutter is not bad - school books, papers, art projects, science experiments, and other educational tools find their way onto every available surface and into every corner. But even though it's a good kind of clutter, it can still be distracting and distressful, and we want to find a way to deal with all of it.
It's no wonder we are suckers for planners, organizing systems, chore charts, and any new gizmo promising to end the crazy and give us peace.
We are not alone. The market for organizational books and products is huge and ever expanding. It reveals how many of us desire to create a plan for our lives, and be able to follow it. We want to live in a clean, uncluttered environment, and be in control of what happens and when.
What keeps us from realizing our goals to live in a peaceful, organized environment?
I often hear ‘organization’ described as a mysterious skill only a few fortunate people possess, as if they were born with it, and the rest of us just lucked out. This means some people are organized and some people aren’t. The idea is discouraging enough to make us ask "Why bother?".
Judging by the advertising campaigns of many tools and systems, ‘organization’ is best achieved through a particular method or product. If you buy this 5-step book and deluxe planner or that cabinet divider thingy, you will forever rid yourself of confusion and disorder. This is Magic Bullet thinking, which usually costs time, money, and frustration, along with creating a pile of expensive stuff you will never use.
Weren't we trying to get rid of our mental and physical clutter?
I'm not dismissing the idea that some folks have a more ordered mind, or that there there are methods and systems that help us become and stay organized. However, they do not address the most basic and essential element of organizational bliss.
Being organized is not a mystery. It is simply a combination of some very basic habits.
The hard part is making those habits habitual for YOU.
You have to change how you think about your time and your stuff.
But first -
You have to change how you use your time and your stuff.
I have an admission to make: I am one of those demented people who has always found cleaning and organizing to be fun. But that doesn’t mean I have always been able to conquer chaos. Bad habits are like mites or ticks or some other icky bloodsucking parasite that is so small as to be undetectable, and yet is such a drain on productivity and peace of mind.
When I don’t act consistently to keep life in order, it tends to fall apart.
I’ve learned that the most beautiful and well-crafted organizational tools cannot fix the underlying problem, because the problem is in my behavior, my head, and my heart.
We usually think of change in terms of altering our attitudes about time and stuff first, and then other things should fall into place. But this is waiting until you don’t want ice cream or potato chips to lose weight, or exercising when you are overcome by the desire to entire a triathlon.
How do you conquer the chaos from the outside in?
Organizing your life starts with what you believe and what you do, not how you feel. For example - if it is important to put a nutritional meal on the table, how you feel about vegetables isn’t relevant, prepare a meal you know will be healthy for your family. You bathe regularly and brush your teeth, and expect the rest of your family to do the same because it is necessary. As a responsible adult who has made financial commitments, you pay your bills every month. If you put off any of these things because you aren’t in the mood or don't feel inspired, I guarantee someone will eventually protest.
We must get a grip on the fact that feelings about being organized aren’t part of the solution, any more than feelings on the subject of electric bills and oral hygiene contribute to whether or not you choose to do them. It simply must be done.
Just ponder for a moment about the many things we do every day without thinking because they are habits. With a change of belief and behavior, organization can become a habit, too.
If you are waiting for inspiration and motivation, you might be waiting until you end up on a episode of Hoarders.
It's tempting to plan your organizing efforts until the next sun-shiney day when the hubby can take the kids out for several hours and you spend some uninterrupted time getting your life in order. Maybe if you find the perfect planner or a better chore organizer or a prettier set of shelves, your problems will be solved.
This is giving away your power to stuff and circumstances. You've handed over control of your life to things with no ability of their own to bring you peace. Planners, charts, closets, and shelves are tools you can use to effect change, but on their own, they will just sit around and gather dust. If you give them power and control, they will daily accuse you of being stupid and lazy, and you will believe it.
You have the power to control your stuff and your life. Don't allow clutter to control you, and chaos to reign in your home.
It's time to change your mind, your heart, and your behavior, and Conquer the Chaos.
If you are unsure where to start to change your behavior and learn new habits, my next post can help you kick yourself into gear to reach your organizational goals. Read Conquer the Chaos with Two New Habits.