I remember the first time I saw a Martha Stewart magazine, pages of organized heaven all bound in one glossy magazine, I was in awe. I knew though, flipping through those pages and looking around my house, as pretty as the magazine was it was it was not real life. As humans we want to emulate media, however, as with celebrities and the unrealistic body standards set, real world organizing requires a different approach than what is portrayed in magazines or a home makeover show.
I went back to school as a young mom. My work and life had the potential to be quite hectic. Looking back it was clear to me then as a mom/student and later as I travelled internationally with a busy family, there were always some commonalities that lead to life feeling on track, in order and organized.
Steps to getting organized for Real Life:
Get rid of the notion of perfection: George Orwell said it best, “The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection”. Striving for perfection prevents us from doing, which is the action that we need to get where we want to be. Don’t let the quest for perfection paralyze you.
Identify values: What are your family values? Is it to have a house with everything perfectly in place and everyone walking on eggshells? Or is it to have a home with a place for everything while recognizing that life does happen, and sometimes, it is ok to leave a pile on the table if it means that you won’t miss the team bus. Or that although everything is not put away you have the systems in place so it is ok for you and your family to take a much needed break and head to the beach.
Work smarter not harder: Look around you house. What can you do to invite the easy in? Can you lower the kid’s hat bin so they can reach it? Can you get in the habit of putting your keys in the same spot so that you always know where they are? The things you identify are things that will create ease in your home and are quick solutions to stay on top of the clutter.
Utilize lists: Life is busy we all have a lot on our mind. Eliminate the stress from trying to recall all of the things around the house that have to be done, all the groceries that have to be purchased, all the places that you have to be. Writing it down does not make you weak, it makes you successful in what you are trying to achieve because you have written it down. Set yourself and your family up for success by listing what is needed.
Schedules: How can you possibly remember all the places that everyone needs to be at any given time? Get in the habit of creating a schedule not only for your family activities, but for meals and chores as well.
Invest in Outsourcing: Many people see outsourcing services as a waste of money. I learned while in the world of rep hockey, that I couldn’t possibly complete all the jobs that needed to be completed, and manage errands, be at the games and still have time for my family and myself. It again goes back to priorities. I would much rather pay someone to do a load to the dump on a weekend and allow my family and I to go peruse the local market or go on a picnic.
Teaching: Get your children on board! Once the rules to stay organized have been established, hold them accountable. Yes it is easier to do it yourself. Yes, it is exhausting nagging, but thinks of this as an investment in your adult child, think of the skills and tools you are giving them. They don’t know it now but down the road they will thank you.
Living an organized life is not about perfection, it isn’t about being a “Stepford Wife”, or emulating the pictures in a magazine. It is about taking time to put the organization in place that you need to allow you and your family to live your best lives.