Are you living in what Marla Scilly, aka The Fly Lady, calls CHAOS? (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome). Well then, join the club there are thousands, perhaps even millions of us!

I have struggled with organization in almost every area of my life for, well, my entire life. By starting this blog I hope to encourage others that they too can get and stay organized!

While it will probably embarrass my children for me to air the dirty laundry here, in full color photos, if it helps just one person along their own journey to getting organized and staying that way, it will have been worth it!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Are We Born This Way?

Are some people born slobs and others born organized? Well I'm not sure there is an actual genetic link but it sure seems like it sometimes. And Pam Young and Peggy Jones, in Sidetracked Home Executives certainly thought there might be. The original edition of From Pigpen to Paradise was certainly helpful to me in coming to understand my side tracked nature.

I realized that I always have lots of plans and ideas in my head and I can't seem to get to them fast enough. Or I underestimate the amount of time it will take. Or, a recurring theme in my life, A needs to be done before B but I can't do B until I do C and I can't do C unless I've done A.

So lately I've been pondering, what do those 'born organized people do? How do they think that is different than the way I think?"

Could it be that they are more 'left brained', more linear and logically thinking than I am? I am very much a visual person and reading something is often more helpful to me than hearing someone explain it. In fact I have discovered that if I read it I will understand and retain more of the information than if I hear it.

Now I know that doesn't work for a lot of people. Especially those who have difficulties with reading or understanding and retaining what they have read. But I digress. My whole point is that we all think in different ways and while the scientists are mapping which parts of our brains are doing what, we still have to figure out how to get to where we want to be in our lives.

So how do those organized people do it? And most important, can the rest of us learn how to do it too? I think we can. It will take some time and some work, but we can 'retrain' our brains to work in new and different ways.

One thing is to be prepared. Prepare today for tomorrow. Check and see if you have an appointment or are you going to work or will you have a day off? So what will you wear? Choose tomorrows clothes tonight, making sure you have everything you need from the skin out.

If you are leaving the house tomorrow where are you going? What do you need to take with you? Set up a small table or something near the front door. Keep your purse and keys there. Put your brief case, diaper bag, kids backpacks, whatever you need tomorrow there. Marla Scilly, The Fly Lady, calls this your launching pad. My daughter had her kids leave their school shoes there along with their coats and back packs. Sure helped organize their mornings.

Make sure you write down all of your appointments  in your planner or on a large wall calender. Pick one day a week to do all your errands and buy groceries and such. Have your list and coupons together on your launch pad, along with the mail you are taking to the post office, the library books, et. And tell your family that you will do things for them on your errand day, if they tell you the night before. Otherwise they can figure out how to get it done on their own.

Another thing that born organized people do is that they effectively use small blocks of time. Instead of being overwhelmed that the job will take 8 hours, they put in ten or fifteen minutes when ever they can, nibbling away at it. After all, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

In conjunction with that organized people never waste time. Sitting and waiting at the doctor's office, take your bank statement in and work on balancing the check book while you wait. Write a note to a friend. Start on that list of 100 things  you want to be, do or have. Brainstorm and doodle about the latest project you have in mind. This is a great way to constructively pass the time.

Organized people are also very time conscious. They have a really good idea of how long something is going to take them, whether it's revising a web page or driving to an appointment or tidying up the bathroom. For those of us who are trying to learn to be organized a timer can be a great help. 

I have a timer similar to this one. It has a pocket clip, easel stand and magnet and it counts up from zero (in case  you want to time how long it _really_ takes you to mop the kitchen) or counts down from what ever time you set. I know I would be lost without my timer as I do several 15 minute sessions for different areas of my life each day.

Speaking of working on things 15 minutes at time, today's declutter session was back on the dresser top. While it still has to much stuff on it, it's good enough for the time being.


  1. Hi Mary. I spent almost an hour here, reading and looking...so much fun! My Mom swears by the fly lady...and I promise to do 15 min...but I usually end up accomplishing way more. This is a great blog! ♥

  2. Thanks Lisa! I am having fun with this blog and it keeps me motivated to keep up with my 15 minute sessions too. I also hope that maybe it will help others find their way out of CHAOS and find peace in their life.