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The Key to Organizing
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Vicki's Corner


Getting Organized

The Key to Organizing

Vicki Norris
Restoring Order It happened before I knew it.  I remember it distinctly. Two months into motherhood, I sat on the couch in my bathrobe with sleep-deprived eyes and surveyed the scene. My living room had been assaulted by baby equipment.

This just wouldn’t do. I spent a half day with my mother-in-law reconfiguring the long space. We shuffled the couch and chairs and ottoman at least a half dozen times. We angled the furniture and end tables to create seating areas.  After several tries, I successfully consolidated the swing, bouncy seats, jumping toy, play mat, and bag of toys into the bay window, where the pack n’ play was nestled against a wall. With this arrangement,  when you enter my home you look into the space and still see a peaceful, adult space that looks inviting. Of course, once you come inside you can see that a baby lives here, too, but I haven’t allowed the plastic gear to take over.

Later, I stood washing bottles at the kitchen sink and I reflected on the many ways in which my life and home have had to adapt to the arrival of a little one. I put away the bottles and cleared out the sink to make room for his bath. This required that I put away all the pots and pans in the drying rack and push the teapot and coffee maker back to their home against the wall. I sanitized the sink and wiped down the counters.  I felt like I had been in the kitchen all day.

I thought about all the people who don’t take time to clean up after one mess before the new one arrives and I felt compassion for their plight and how easy it is to become disorganized. All of a sudden, I had this ah-ha moment about the essence of organizing. Friends, I wish I could tell you that my realization was some little-known shortcut that we could all take to get and stay organized. Instead, my ah-ha moment was one single word: vigilance.

To become organized, we need to ditch the deadwood in our space and in our calendar. Lightening up brings us more freedom to concentrate on the important things. Then, we need to establish systems that help us run our lives on a daily basis. These systems, if followed, will help keep us in order so we can move on with the business of living. Yet, even with a pruned environment and good systems, if we don’t diligently maintain our space and our systems, we will tumble into disorganization.

Being organized is not what you’ve probably heard. Likely, you’ve associated it with quick tips, shortcuts, bins, and baskets. You’ve been told that it can be done in three quickie steps or five minutes a day. In truth, organizing is about a lot more than tidying up or stashing things out of sight.

Authentic organizing is about keeping your home cleared so your daily activities can move forward (like clearing the sink every night for your child’s bath). It’s about making room for your priorities and commitments by (by refining and managing your calendar so you don’t get buried or let things slip through the cracks). Organizing includes the mundane tasks like putting the things that go upstairs on the stairwell so you remember to take them up next time you go. I realize this may not be a popular or earth-shattering viewpoint, but the fact remains that the true key to organization is practicing order as a lifestyle.

Hopefully it is an encouragement to you that even a professional organizer deals with change and has to re-adjust her household and systems accordingly. I’ve learned that if you can recognize and adapt to changes in your life before they cause a downward spiral, you can prevent disorganization from settling in.

A life of order isn’t meant to be a chore. When you embrace order as a lifestyle, you are refusing to live a reactive, haphazard existence. You are choosing to trade confusion and chaos for freedom and peace of mind.

Life changes can disrupt and derail people who are not committed to maintaining a life of order. In contrast, those who recognize and adapt to change can welcome each new chapter in their life as a new blessing and a new opportunity.

Here’s to a lifestyle of order and freedom!

About the Author: Vicki Norris is an expert organizer, business owner, speaker, television personality, and author who inspires people to live out their priorities. She is author of Reclaim Your Life™ © 2007 by Vicki Norris and of Restoring Order™ to Your Home, © 2007, a room-by-room household organizing guide, both published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR (available now at Norris is a regular on HGTV’s nationally syndicated Mission: Organization, and is a recurrent source and contributor to national lifestyle publications including Quick & Simple magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, and Real Simple magazine.

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