Order!

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now, as the thoughts have been percolating in my brain. And that’s really why I’m writing it- to sort out and pin down all those spinny thoughts and put them in some kind of order. Hah- speaking of order, that’s what this whole thing is about.

See, I’ve never been a schedule person. I just bristle against them. When I was little my mom actually restructured the way our family did a bunch of things because of my anti-schedule tendencies, which she noticed after having us all do the Meyers-Briggs personality type test. I like doing things at my own speed, my own pace. I like having the freedom of scooting things around, doing them when I want to do them.

The thing is, that way of life so isn’t working for me. I have laundry piling up, projects that are unfinished or unstarted, things screaming to be taken care of at the last minute, other things just not happening at all.

I’m reminded of when I first started working at Atlantis. I learned very specific procedures for ringing in product, taking the money, bagging the books, handing over the receipt- I could do it in my sleep. I could do it now, if you asked me to. And the first time I rang someone up, I forgot the procedure and started bagging the books while the drawer was open, and in my scramble to put the money away forgot to give the receipt… It took all my concentration just to get through it. But once I got the procedure and followed it every single time, I could chat with the customer, put information in the computer, answer questions being thrown at me by other people; any number of things because I was fluent in the system, and the system held me up. If I got distracted half way through the transaction, I knew exactly where to pick up, because I knew exactly what I’d already done.

And that, my friends, is what I’ve decided I need. I need systems in my day to day activities, a framework of systems, even, to structure things and hold me up. Because my “first transaction” equivalent these days is 5:30 in the evening when I realize I have no idea what I’m making for dinner, the laundry in the washer has been sitting there all day, Tiny hasn’t had a bath, the living room is a mess of toys, and I haven’t played with Zoe all day. And I’ve been busy doing things all day, but couldn’t for the life of me tell you what. One of my friends mentioned that she doesn’t know how I have the time to make cool notebooks and things, and my answer was that I have time because when I’m making them, everything else slips right off the radar. It’s like I can only focus on one thing at a time, and honestly, there’s got to be a way to balance things better than that. As I ranted at my sister the other day (as she laughed hysterically at me) it’s not even like I’m complaining that I don’t have time in my day to make bread out of wheat I grew myself for each of the women I visit teach, no, I’m talking about the fact that somehow I can’t make sure my kitchen floor isn’t sticky.

So, systems. The word systems seems to work better for my brain than schedules, which still raises my hackles. (Hackles is a funny word.) There are a number out there (for cleaning and such) that I’ve looked at, but which for some reason or other I’m reticent to embrace them fully. I keep feeling like I need to come up with my own- figure out how my house works and what will really work for me- but at the same time, when the same principles keep showing up in all the systems, I have to think that these people know more than I do.

For example, after reading the suggestion multiple times, I’ve started making sure the kitchen is clean and the dishwasher is loaded and running at night. Then in the morning, I unload it so it can be refilled as needed during the day instead of letting the dishes pile up in the sink. I’m figuring out in the morning what we’ll have for dinner, so I can make sure (with plenty of lead time) that we have the ingredients we need, or that I’ll be able to start it on time. I have a schedule (there’s that word again) for cleaning different parts of my house each day, and while that one is still rough (maybe because it’s a schedule?) I’m slowly coming around to it.

I just can’t help but think that if the things I need to do on a regular basis were arranged in a more orderly way that I could become fluent in those systems and then I’d be able to fit everything in, instead of cramming things in haphazardly and not fitting even half of it in.

That makes perfectly logical sense to me, but I still recoil slightly from it; in a “but this is just who I am” kind of way. It’s my personality to work better without a schedule, right? And part of me screams, “YES! Don’t change!” and another part kind of quietly mentions “yes, so you say, but how is that really working out for you?” and I have to admit that it’s not going so well as all that. And that if I look at the example of God, and what we know about Him- order seems to be pretty dang high up there on the list of attributes that He and the organizations He puts in place exhibit. And just because it’s something I do, a way I think, doesn’t make it an integral part of my personality, or something that couldn’t be improved upon. I’m reminded of some of the Zen philosophy books I’ve read that talk about the I, and how the I will do anything to stop you from changing, from realizing that it’s really just a construct of your mind.

So… what? Comment about whatever you want- about how you find order, systems you have, things that are so integral to you that you couldn’t possibly change them, except, of course, that you could… whatever.

10 thoughts on “Order!

  1. Please keep us posted on how it goes, Maryanne, ’cause I’m very similar. At work, I’m super organized (for example, I send out overdue notices on Thursdays), but at home, I had no clean clothes this morning. And I can never seem to keep my house clean. It’s like I come home, look at my house, and throw up my hands, saying, “But I already worked today!” So, suggestions for me would be awesome.

    Love you darling. What a great mom you are, to realize that playing with Zoe is important.

  2. Cindy on

    When our dishwasher first broke I thought “hmmmm, maybe it should have died a long time ago bz I’m really keeping up on these dishes.” Now that it’s been broken a few weeks the opposite is true. I always have dirty dishes all over the bar and in the sink. Now I start thinking that when the boys move out it will get easier and it might for a day or two but then I’ll be back to square one I’m sure. I just can’t seem to sustain my organization but I do well in short spurts so that’s what I try to concentrate on. However, that said…..when it comes to parts of the house that no one else enters or touches I’m extremely organized and can tell you where everything is. My sewing nook is pristine and everything right where it should be. Go figure. Maybe God is telling me that I should just sew all day and not sweat the small stuff! LOL! I have organizational cubbies and holders for lids, etc. in my house but the problem is I’m the only one that uses them. Kaje’ is quite a tidy girl and enjoys organizing her room just so. It will be interesting to see how we do with the boys gone. Check back with me a month after Trav goes on his mission and we’ll see what I say then, LOL!! If you figure out a good system let me know but for now remember that you have little ones and they’re what matters most. As long as the health department doesn’t shut you down you’re okay! LOL!!

  3. I am so relating to this–argh! My dh and I just finished a series of organizational classes by a professional organizer and we’re going to try to implement them. We live in chaos, which was “fine” before we were parents, but doesn’t work with kids. ANYWAY, http://www.houseoforder.com is the site of the gal who taught the classes. The site is, ironically, a little chaotic feeling, but I like her and her ideas. She’s kind of like a flylady, but with a bigger plan/vision and she uses index cards instead of lists.

    One thing she stresses is the “f-word”–finish! “Put things away instead of down,” make the tasks small enough that you can finish before a kid comes tugging at your legs . . . those kinds of things. We’re getting there. She has a monthly meal menu idea that we’re very excited to implement (you have to come up with your own recipes, but she has the plan). And I really think her index card box of household duties will work for us (and you can put things in it like bathe the kids, play with them, or whatever).

    Good luck, Maryanne. If you discover anything fabulous, please post it!

  4. Maryanne on

    Auntie, one of the things I keep reading is that if you have a system that includes cubbies and holders and things, that everyone has to buy into it and use it, or it won’t work. So if you can get Kaje to do it, then maybe things WILL come together once the boys are gone. 🙂 And yes, Heavenly Father is absolutely telling you to just sew all the time. 🙂

    Wendy, isn’t that so funny about organizers having chaotic websites? Flylady is like that- the website is so busy looking, and they send you about 10 e-mails a day, talk about clutter! But I will take a look at house of order, I like adding ideas to my arsenal.

    Brandy, I so hear you. I’ll post what I come up with, and thinking about it, what I’m doing might work for you because I’m breaking it into little pieces to attack each day, which could work for the time/inclination you have after work.

  5. bruce on

    There’s definitely a value in a systematic approach to things. I’ve found that remembering a system is much easier than remembering a group of individual details. One example is keep track of passwords. I have to maintain a number of fairly complex passwords for work and other uses. Instead of wracking my brain to remember them, I created a basic password that is easy to remember and then created a system around modifying that password based on what it’s for.

    I like having systems floating around in my head so I never have to remember any details 😉

    One thing I am struggling with is the concept of “but that’s not who I am” that you mentioned in your post. I think sometimes it’s easy to forget that there’s a difference between “who I am” and “who I am with my children” or “who I am with my spouse”. It’s not that we become fake people, but we have to adjust our interactions to fit these new circumstances.

    We’ll get it all figured out.

  6. Cindy on

    You crack me up telling me that God wants me to sew all day. I just got your comment about Nicholas and you hit the nail right on the head. I knew that unless he had a testimony that his activity in the church would only be for me and he would resent it. We gave him much slack and he began making changes before he ever met Jill. She just helped him along his way after he found the way he wanted to go. He’s had to learn many lessons the hard way but I believe the blessing in this is that he’s learned! Sometimes this is how I learn too so I’m not sitting in judgement on it. Have a great Mother’s Day, bz you are a great mother!

  7. Maryanne on

    Hil, that post was awesome, thank you so much. And most of this post came out of our talk, so thanks for that too! You’re so wonderful, I love you!

  8. We got some cheap silverware from wal-mart once (like a lot of it). then just threw them away after they were dirty. It was actually cheaper then buying the plastic stuff…go figure.

  9. Hi Maryanne,

    I am so with you on the allergy to schedules and routines. But the same realization hit me too, that my way wasn’t really working out. You read my post about getting help (finally–with four kids and being 8mo. pregnant). But what I didn’t say is that I could accept the help because I’ve been “fly-washed” as they say from the http://www.flylady.net website. She is a kindred spirit who in her creativity and personality doesn’t naturally come by order–so for me her methods work with my brain patterns.

    I’ve often said to myself that having adopted just some of her systems have helped me to live the gospel more fully!

    Maybe you’d like it too. It’s free, but you get lots of email reminders every day, which bothers some people. But for me learning to delete them was part of the training process in the system.

    Hope you find a system that works for you. I have laundry down (mostly) and I am working on actually planning my meals instead of flying by the seat of my pants at 6pm!

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