|Vermeer, Music Lesson,|
Until 2008, one of our greatest sources of sadness and irritation was the fact that we were rather messy and disorganised. And, as for the girls, well, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
But we have gradually changed. If you show up unannounced, or better still, with 15 minutes warning, you will find an acceptable house, not immaculate or even particularly tidy, but not disgraceful either.
* * *
What changed? Partly getting a cleaner which motivated us to get everything in the right place for them to clean. And going through the house, tidying every room, once a week, motivated us to begin getting rid of things.
And space and order is addictive. Once you start decluttering, it becomes a habit to ask “Do I really need this? Is it beautiful? Is it useful?”
And how old were we when we finally got our acts together, and became tidy grown-ups? Mid-forties!!
Which shows it’s never too late to change.
* * *
And, interestingly, the last five years have also been a period of blessing and productivity for us, in many ways.
Messy, disorganized people will never achieve as much as they could, though they may be achieving enough!
* * *
One of my inspirations was Marla Cilley, Flylady. Marla in her mid-forties was depressed, overweight, in debt, and surrounded by chaos, mess and clutter.
“Enough,” she said, one day. There was too much clutter and mess for her to clean it all up in a day, or a week, or a month, and, besides, she was depressed! However, she shone her sink, and resolved that she would continue shining her sink, if it killed her. Gradually, she began picking up the dishes around the sink, sticking them in the dishwasher, and order and beauty spread outwards.
She attributes her success at becoming a tidy, organised home-dweller to two things—consistency and persistence. Anyone she says can run a tidy, organised home, if they work at it with consistency and persistence.
Her website flylady.net is full of practical ideas. She will email these to you if you would like to follow her way to domestic order and peace. She has worked out where to start to get out of chaos, and the most leveraged first steps. Her way definitely works!!
* * *
Which of her tips have helped me?
1) Anyone can do anything for 15 minutes at a time. So when a room gets messy, or when there are rooms I have never tidied properly, like the library or the garage, or the barn, I set a timer for 15 minutes. I never do more than 15 minutes on a room, so there is no risk of boredom setting in.
2) She has cool suggestions for crisis cleaning–if guests are due, for example. Work on 3 separate rooms for 15 minutes each, take a 15 minute break. Repeat.
3) She also suggests focusing on hot spots—you know, where clutter gathers all by itself. We don’t have these any more, since we work on them weekly.
4) Most useful of all, perhaps is the concept of baby steps. Your house didn’t get messy in a day, and won’t get tidy in a day. Take small, but consistently maintained steps to get it all tidy again.
The confidence she gained in getting her domestic act together spilled over into a writing ministry. She next tackled her overweight body, “cluttered” she called it, and wrote a book about that too. She got out of debt.
It’s amazing how confidence breeds confidence. For instance, I’ve noticed this syndrome in several people, and have sunk into it myself (except for the debt): sleeping in, a messy house, being overweight, and substantially in debt.
How to get out of it? The answer is: Start anywhere. Start with what bugs you most. Getting your house tidy or waking early will give you the time and confidence to lose weight. And the discipline and organizational skills and confidence you gain in one area will spill over to others.
* * *
For myself, getting our family business into profit gave me the confidence to get the house together (and helped pay for the cleaner) which gave me the peace and mental space to launch a reasonably successful blog, which gave me the confidence and drive to wake earlier, which gave me extra time, and I am now working on the weight, and have lost 16 pounds! You see, a virtuous circle!!
Anyway, have a look at Flylady.net. You will be entertained, and perhaps educated!!