One of the greatest things we strive for in our lives is peace and tranquility. We search the net looking for the latest organizing tips that will help our homes be tidy, the latest kitchen gadget that will make our Tuesday night dinners a star studded event, or the latest relationship advice that will bring harmony to the chaos that is our every day lives. Yet with all the searching, the reading and the implementing, it just isn’t so…why not?
Could it be as we dive deep into the latest “self help”, we fail to see that what we really need to do is protect the peace that we are striving to build? Are we letting someone else’s problems become our own? Letting our family members take advantage us by not carrying their weight? Are we over committing and trying to be all things to everyone?
So how do we “protect our peace”? Just like anything else we want to do well, it takes commitment and discipline. It takes a resolve and a recognition that we are protecting the hard work and effort that we have put into building our home life.
1 – Have a Plan, a Purpose and Place for Everything
For every item that you bring through the door of your home, you need to determine what you’re going to do with it. Where is it going to “live” within your home for the long term? That cute little bobble you had to have is really cool, but becomes a burden the moment you bring it home and don’t have a place to put it. If you don’t have room for your latest bobble, then you have a choice: Leave it at the store, or bring it home and purge something(s) to make room.
What purpose is your new bobble going to serve? If the answer is “sit there and be beautiful and bring me joy”, that’s ok. That is a purpose. But the moment it becomes clutter, or doesn’t have a place, once you are moving it from spot to spot, the joy subsides and the purpose changes.
It’s always nice when something brings you joy AND has an actual physical purpose. I have a wooden tray that was a gift from my cousin that I just adore. It has the pretty gold handles and the word “gather” scrolled across it and makes me smile each time I pass it. It has many purposes. I sometimes use it to hold my coffee maker and tea pot. Often it’s used to serve guests and it sometimes spends some counter time holding the salt and pepper shakers, and napkins for dinner time.
Remember, if you have a place for everything, then it’s easier to
- know where something goes for quick tiding up and
- know when something is missing from its designated space.
2 – Have a Process to Collect and Store Information
Mail, emails, paperwork and other assorted information are the hardest things to keep under control. There is a constant daily barrage of information that comes our way and if you don’t implement a strategy it will over run even the most organized person.
Your organization style is all your own. You alone can determine what process is best. It has to be something that you are comfortable utilizing. If you are a tech “geek” like me, then an online/virtual storage maybe helpful. There are many software’s out there can make this task fairly simple. I have used Evernote for years and use it to even organize my favorite recipes. Evernote is a simply software that lets you create Notebooks and then add notes to each Notebook. You can add pdf files, pictures, and other attachments.
If you are currently a Microsoft Office customer, you may already have access to Microsoft OneNote. It is very similar to Evernote. If you are a traditionalist and prefer a hard copy printout of your information, then a file cabinet and hanging files may be a good option. Just make sure that your filing system is one that is easy to utilize. If not, you’ll have stacks of papers everywhere because your filing system is too time consuming.
Years ago, one of my clients taught me a valuable filing lesson. I always had a separate file for everything. It was so complicated and filing just didn’t happen. He showed me that one file for each month was sufficient as long as there was a way to determine the file date for the information. For example, if you have monthly files and know that all paid bills are filed by the date paid, then you are able to cross reference by the payment date in your banking app or check registers. You can even simplify it more by filing by quarter. Only 4 files to choose from is a dream when filing.
Most often a hybrid of the two filing styles works best. This is the system I have used for years. It’s Evernote for anything that comes in online, such as ideas, recipes, online receipts, etc. It’s hanging files for anything that I receive a paper copy of such as: bills, bank statements and receipts.
3 – Create a Routine
Whether it’s a morning post shower routine, or a schedule for doing certain housework, having a routine is always helpful to keep us on track. It’s been said that it takes approximately 30 times doing something for it to become habit/muscle memory. Imagine how much easier everyday tasks become when you are able to rely on a little “autopilot”.
We recently purchased a rolling 3 section laundry cart. I mainly needed a way to get the dirty clothes to the laundry room without always having my husband carry the baskets for me. One bonus of the laundry cart is that each section holds exactly 1 load of laundry. So now our routine is that when one section is full, then into the washer it goes. No one runs out of socks, underwear or other vital clothing items, which has been a huge timesaver and stress reliever. One load at a time is so much less of a chore than spending all day Saturday doing laundry.
4 – Learn to Say No
For us people pleasers this can be a problem. We want so desperately to make sure that everyone is happy and content and has what they need, that we are willing to sacrifice our own contentment. We feel flattered when asked to take on a project. One of the hardest things is to turn down the opportunity to live up to that flattery. Saying no makes us feel like we are letting the requester down. But sometimes our saying no, gives someone else the chance to shine.
Only you can determine what to say yes or no. But be decerning. We are only allotted so many hours in each day. Weigh carefully what you are willing to sacrifice those few precious hours to. Is there something or someone that is more deserving of your time?
Saying no, like anything else, gets easier over time. Prioritize what is important to you and it will become crystal clear what is worth your time and energy, and what is not.
5 – Limit the Influence of Negative People
It’s been said that we are influenced by the five people closest to us. Who are your closest five? Are they people you wish to emulate? Do they hold the same values that you do? If not, then you need to consider adding a little distance, especially if one (or all) are people that bring negativity into your life.
I recently saw a sign that said “No drama mama”. That describes the perfect protected home environment. If someone close to you is bringing strife into your world, think about how you can limit their influence. That doesn’t mean turning your back on those that you love, it merely means that you can setup boundaries to limit the ability of that person to bring their drama, strife or conflict to your home.
Maybe it’s just a matter of you limiting your own tendency to take on their emotional state or carry their burdens. We should always be loving and compassionate, but does that cross the line into taking on more than we should for someone else?
There is a great Christian writer, Henry Cloud, that has written a series of books on setting boundaries, limiting influence and learning to say no. I have read, and re-read, a couple of his books. Here is a link to the Amazon search for these books…
You guard your home against physical intruders. Why would you not protect it from emotional intruders as well. Don’t allow negativity and disorder to come through the door. Sometimes it’s just about checking our own emotions and learning to let a things go.
There’s volumes that can be written about how to protect your peace. Hopefully with these 5 simple steps you can be on your way to recognizing what makes your world chaotic and crazy. I hope that it gives you the encouragement to evaluate your stressors. If something is causing you strife, think about where the cause is and how you can move to make changes that will get you to a place of calm.