By Cathy Haynie
It was well over 10 years ago when I met Marilyn Tinnin on the telephone. We became fast friends in the span of minutes just talking. It would be months before we actually met. That phone call began a journey of writing about organization—a topic I so enjoy. I like to think about it, plan it, and yes, even write about it, but actually doing it is the challenge for all of us! After all these years in our quest together to live more orderly lives, I will say farewell. Thank you for welcoming me and this column into your thoughts and into your home as you have looked for ideas and motivation along the way. I encourage you to press on—an orderly life is worth living! It frees you up to do the things you have to do and the things you enjoy doing. A less cluttered mind and a less cluttered house are truly helpful in accomplishing our life’s purposes. I often remind myself that when I know what my family is having for dinner, it is easier to take a meal to someone else. So, as I sign off, I will leave you with an overview of 10+ years worth of writing. It really comes down to just a few thoughts.
- Establish target areas. If you know the one or two or three areas that bother you most, you can work on those areas until you find a system that is right for you. Once you have one area under control, you can add another target area. When we just consider ourselves unorganized, or a lost cause, nothing changes. But when we say, “My closet is unorganized,” or “I don’t have enough time to cook dinner,” then we can get to work.
- The best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of ideas. Ask your friends, your family, and read articles and books on your particular target areas. You will find inspiration and simple ideas that can be difference makers.
- You’ve never lost your laundry detergent. You always put it back in the same spot and you keep it at its point of use. (See how organized you are!) This principle will take you far in organizing.
- Set up a system you like and live in it. When our organizational system is attractive to us, something we like, the chances are better that we will maintain it. Whether it’s nice coat hangers, colorful files, or a clean car, once you find that moment of satisfaction, then you will be more diligent to keep it.
- Let yourself off the hook. Organization is a means to an end—it is not the end. Organization can help us in life, but when the quest for it begins to get in the way of life itself, it is time to let up. When you walk through the door at the end of the day and begin greeting your family with, “Who made this mess?” instead of, “Hello” then you know. You know it has become an idol of sorts. You see, when you stand before Jesus, he won’t be interested in the last time you cleaned your oven or changed your sheets. Organization helps us do the most import things, but it isn’t the most important thing.
When all else fails, repeat step one.
It has been a wonderful journey with you, and I wish you the best in all of your target areas. Happy organizing!
Cathy Haynie and her husband, Jack, have three children and live in Madison. Cathy is the Head of School at Christ Covenant School in Ridgeland.