I have to put my own house in order. I've been working on it and have claimed a head start on Spring this year.
If my space is in chaos, it's difficult for me to be clear headed and open hearted—two requirements for serving others. Also, I like the view of the world around me to adhere to some sense of aesthetic order. It's important to me.
As a freelance creative, teacher and coach, I wear a lot of different hats. Translation: I have a lot of different piles of stuff that support each project, class and client. Although I keep each collection of, mostly, papers, books and supplies in individual bins, I have to work at organizing on a daily basis. And then there's all the other stuff of life. If I ever wonder at the stuff I accumulate, I can only look to myself. I bring it into my home and work space. So I am the one who has to change my habits and actions.
Like Parkinson's Law ("work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion"), stuff expands so as to fill available space. No matter how often I organize and clean, it seems I turn around to find that, whoa, there's another pile of clutter. How does this happen so fast? Does this happen in your world?
I cannot stand clutter and yet I make it. What to do, what to do?
Well, there are a few "simple" rules to follow.
What are my particular clutter problems? Normal things. Weird things.
What's my stuff problem?
I am a book magnet. As soon as I could write my own name, I was scrawling it into the end papers of my father's fine editions of, oh, Arthur Quiller-Couch's Notes on Shakespeare's Workmanship or Donald Francis Tovey's Essays in Musical Analysis. So, books.
Paper. All of my artwork is on paper and so are my teaching demos. And live class handouts. And OMG, magazines that I keep for students and "reference".
Shells (lots of shells) and rocks and stones and crystals and feathers and pine cones and baby plants rooting and shooting in various stages.
Small treasured objects that I've picked up along the route of my peripatetic life.
Jars. Why do I spend so much time cleaning and storing glass jars?
Bubble wrap. I know I'm going to need it!
Okay, those are my main culprits. What are yours?
I leave my shoes around. Mostly, I take my shoes off when I come in the house. But sometimes I don't.
I drop things on the table by my back door. Any table. By any back door. This is chronic.
I pile books and magazines and professional papers and my journals by my reading and writing chair.
I leave glasses and cups where I put them when I've finished drinking whatever is inside them.
My studio... I pile sketches and class demos and reference photos in places where they don't belong by which I mean on work space that I need for...drawing and painting! Other than that, it's an ongoing creative space, a place I change out my teaching gear so, I have to allow it a certain amount of disarray.
What are your habit problems with stuff?
One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity. —Bruce Lee
Seven Rules of Order
Put your toys back where they belong when you are finished playing with them. That goes for clothing and shoes, too.
Complete your actions. Preparation is critical to most action. So is cleaning up. Complete your cycle of activity.
Do you love it? If not, then why is it in your space?
The one year rule. This is tried and true. If you haven't used something in the past year, let it go.
STOP BUYING STUFF YOU DON'T NEED! Think you really need something? Give it 24 hours. Then reconsider.
Use a timer. Think that putting things back in order will take too long? Use a timer. Set it on 15 minutes. You'll be finished before the timer goes off.
Accept yourself. We all have chronic habits that are challenging to change. That's where accountability and coaching come in handy. If you have chronic habits related to order, don't beat yourself up about them. Be compassionate with yourself and do the best you can.
The present order is the disorder of the future. —Louis-Antoine Saint-Just
Chaos is a smokescreen and one of the things it obscures is the truth. Keeping your own house in order subdues anxiety and allows you to be more confident and discerning in general.
There is, of course, much more to keeping your own house in order. People have built illustrious careers on this theme. There's also more to chaotic living than the state of order in your personal space. But that's a topic for a future post. And I haven't even brought up cleaning!
One thing at a time.