I’ve never met a person who doesn’t struggle with organization at least now and then. Even the organization gurus have times when they are not disciplined to follow their own advice. Life just gets in the way, and the plan or system falls apart.
All too often, though, we let “falling apart” become the norm—an excuse for not disciplining ourselves in organization in the first place. Why bother, when we know something will always throw a kink in the nicely laid plan?
It’s Not Just About the Plan
Stress has become a major killer in our society, and its victims are becoming younger and younger. Much of our stress is caused by busyness that can be traced to a lack of structure. We think our schedules are jam-packed with no space, but in reality they are scattered and chaotic, our days full of wasted time and energy that could be redeemed for a healthier lifestyle.
This chaos extends to the state of our homes, the nature of our diet, and the quality and quantity of our rest, contributing to overall poor physical health and habits for ourselves and our families.
Mental and Emotional Health
Poor organization can have direct impacts on mental and emotional health without even considering the physical stress.
When we are surrounded by chaos, whether in the state of our homes or the uncertainty of our schedule, it is very difficult to focus on the tasks before us. We are scattered and fractured, and the markers for ADD become very descriptive of our condition. We are likely to feel constantly behind and constantly frustrated. In other words, we keep ourselves in a state of poor mental and emotional health.
A lack of structure and organization frequently has a highly detrimental impact on relationships. When we are disorganized, it becomes increasingly difficult for us to make and honor commitments, engage well with others without distraction, and fulfill responsibilities in a timely fashion. This is not just about preferring to be laid-back or highly scheduled. Even the most scheduled person can be completely unreliable because of a lack of organization, whereas the simple act of keeping a basic calendar of fixed commitments can give a laid-back person beautiful freedom. Regardless which end of the spectrum we land on, relationships suffer when our lives are disorganized.
So, What Do I Do?
Organization will look very different for each of us. In fact, a Type-A individual might need to learn to adopt a more relaxed system of organization that includes spontaneity and rest while the go-with-the-flow free spirit will need to learn some structure. But, there are some starting points from which all of us can extend.
A Chore System:
Being healthy in our organization does not mean we will have spotless homes. (In fact, I would argue that a spotless home might indicate a lack of health in relational and mental areas of life.) Instead, it means that we have a system for controlling our chaos. If the bathroom isn’t clean on Friday, it’s because you know that it’s regularly cleaned on Tuesdays. So, it’s okay today because you’re going to get there. The simple act of having a system in place and keeping to it as regularly as possible can go a long way toward creating peaceful homes.
Not everyone loves planning. And that’s okay. But, no family should be without a calendar of some sort. Much of our stress comes because we overextend ourselves. This is much less likely when we take the simple, but effective, step of making sure all of our commitments are clearly laid out on a calendar that everyone has access to.
The weekly Sabbath command did not initiate with the Ten Commandments. In fact, the first full day of life for Adam and Eve was a day of rest! Spiritual, physical, emotional, and relationship rest must be a priority instead of something we do when everything else gets done. Guess what? Everything else will never be done. We will never “deserve” rest. Rest is an act of trust and obedience and must be intentionally worked into the fabric of our lives.
We like to connect organization to planners and neat storage systems and the concept of everything being spic and span and in its place. But, while those things can reflect organization, they are not the definition of organization. Instead, organization is a state of health. It is an attitude of being ahead of the curve rather than constantly in a state of urgency. It is a rhythm.
Why organize? Because we want to be healthy and to teach our children what it means to live healthy lives—whether our houses are always in order or not.