Friday, May 3, 2013

When to ignore the experts...

"Everyone's a comedian." Do you ever hear that phrase?  That's how I feel about organizing gurus.  Everyone's an expert.  Truth is, not every tip works for every person.  Sometimes you have to know what works for you and when to ignore the rules.
This morning I'm drinking my beloved coffee with fat free french vanilla creamer.  Ahhhh.
Being organized helps in so many areas of your home and work life.  Most people find things more easily and quickly when organized.  They worry less when things are uncluttered, and find their days less stressful then when they are disorganized.
Have you ever heard these rules?  
  •      A place for everything and everything in it's place.  
  •      Label your containers. 
  •      Store like items together. 

These rules work efficiently for most of us.  I admit, they are the life and death of my daily life. If things aren't where I can find them when I need them, well.... it's not pretty!
That doesn't mean if all the organizing rules don't work for you, you should give up your dreams of being organized, uncluttered and streamlined.  What it does mean is that you should look at things a little differently and consider whether or not a specific organizing advice works for YOU. Don't be afraid to think outside the organizing box.

The rules are too rigid! I get this a lot from my kiddos.  Although I love my son's legos to be wonderfully organized in separate containers according to color, he prefers them all dumped in one giant basket. 
   Question: Is this rule too rigid for him to maintain?  Is this rule frustrating him so much he can't commit to it.  
   Answer: Yes!  So what's important to me?  Is it that all the legos look pretty in their color coordinated containers or that my eight year old has the motivation to put them away when he's done?
If the principle you're attempting is too rigid, you will not only become frustrated, you will also refrain from using it and will not be able to control the mess. Feelings of failure will set in and eventually all motivation will be lost.  You'll be back at square one.

Try this instead: Adjust the rule so the core value remains the same, but tweak it so it suits your personality or lifestyle.  For instance, my family drops their shoes, bags and backpacks right inside the back door.  I hate it, I've tried to change it, I've fought and fussed and fumed.  No change.  It's just what we do. 
Instead of making my family miserable, we adjust our expectation. We, obviously, meaning me :)  We changed our attitude.  Now we have two choices. 
Choice one: drop everything the minute we walk in the door until the dog is let out, we've used the facilities, we had that cool drink of water, or that five minute sit-down-and-rest.  THEN we grab our things and put them away.  
Choice two: use a large basket inside the back door.  Drop everything in the basket the moment we walk in and sift through it when we need whatever we deposited there.

This is too hard! I hear this from my kiddos, too.  I think clothes closets should me kept organized and maintained - expertly! Children don't share that excitement.  I'm working on it, though. For them, the idea of "organize your closet" is too hard.  It's too big a task.
Try this instead: Keep it simple.  Try to narrow the process to three easy steps.  
1) put shoes in their cubbies, basket, rack, etc.
 2) hang up all clean clothes according to purpose (i.e. school uniforms together, other clothes together). 
3) deposit all loose toys into their rightful containers. Again, like items together (i.e. all action figures together, all Barbie clothes together, all stuffed animals together, all spy gear together.)

Parts of the whole: Each of these steps is very helpful, but you may not be able to keep or maintain every step consistently.  
Try this instead: focus on the things you know you can do easily and routinely.  Then gradually add, or swap other techniques as necessary.

Remember, your home is your safe place.  You want it to be organized and clutter free, but not if keeping it that way causes you additional stress.  
My tips for you:
Don't give up.  Don't give in. 
You can create the home you always wanted.  
Don't get bogged down in all the rules!  Find one that works for you, stick to it, tweak it, rework it until you're the expert!

Only By His Grace,


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