One of our goals for August is to look ahead to the Fall and make some organizational plans. This is the perfect time of year to make sure the school room is tidy and appealing, the herbal medicine cabinet is fully stocked and ready for cold and flu season, the pantry is ready for the upcoming Fall and Winter holidays, and so much more! Certainly we aren’t going to get it all accomplished in August, but we at least have to make a plan for tackling each area when those lazy days of summer come to a close! To inspire you, we would like to introduce you to Janet of Do It–Downsize, Organize, It’s Time! What does she do you ask? She’s a professional organizer! She takes other people’s messy places and makes them places of beauty and peace. In other words, you might call her a miracle worker.
Janet is a pastor’s wife, mother of three and grandmother of nine! Her husband, Rick, and Janet planted the Azusa House of Prayer and 5812 Coldwater Way, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to rebuilding cities one neighborhood at a time. Her life and ministry is bringing peace out of confusion–even as it applies to the junk drawer! Talk about doing all to glorify God!
We always want to bring you, our Provision Room readers, the very best! So, we called up Janet and asked if she had a soapbox and a bull-horn! Here we have some real gems of tips and inspiration to get you started accomplishing the August Goal of getting organized!
PR: Explain briefly what you do.
Janet: I bring order out of chaos. Whether it’s a cluttered closet, a desk in disarray or a ghastly garage, I tackle those tasks that you can’t get motivated to complete and turn them into streamlined spaces with manageable systems.
PR: How does organization or lack of organization affect our lives?
Janet: An organized home is a well ordered home. When things are not found in their proper places and clutter dominates our spaces it is a breeding ground for confusion, stress and short tempers. When a plan is in place and we control our stuff rather than our stuff controlling us, we are better stewards of our time and peace is our reward.
PR: What if your personality is just not naturally bent towards organization? Any tips you can give those of us that just find it a challenge?
Janet: I realize that I am different than most people. Organizing has been in my DNA since I was a child. A fun Saturday for me consisted of dumping out my dresser drawers on my bed and reorganizing them. I often clean out a cupboard or closet in my own home and find it very therapeutic.
If your personality is just not naturally bent toward organization, do not be discouraged. There is hope out there. It is called the “Internet.” There are tips galore on web sites and blogs. Just Google “organizational tools” and find the answer that is custom fitted for you. PLUS: there are people like ME who love to help!
PR: OK, a client comes to you that is completely disorganized–from calendar to closet. She doesn’t know where to start. Give me your best tip for getting started! Where do I start first; where is square one?
b) Start with a small space. Pick one area or a pile that is stressing you out….maybe it is a stack of bills and post it notes with dates that need to be added to the family calendar, or maybe it’s that collect-all counter that seems more like a magnet for everyone’s deposits when they walk inside the house. For that first project, don’t try to gut the garage and redo it in a day. Start with a “do-able” task….a small job that will give you a sense of satisfaction when it is completed.
c) Set aside a time and tackle it. If you wait for free or leisure time, you aren’t going to fill those moments with putting things in order. Once that time is locked in…..dig in! FOCUS! Don’t tackle another task until this one is completed.
d) Collect the proper tools:
- trash sack (I like to use paper grocery sacks because they stand up easily and you can easily toss papers and things into it.
- a box for charity or yard sale items,
- storage box for those things that you absolutely must keep, but don’t need to leave out.
e) De-clutter. “DOWNSIZE, then organize.” Keep the trash bin right by your side and get ready to toss. Most of us have too much stuff.
Do I really need this?
When was the last time I used it?
Is there someone else who could benefit from this more than I do?
Is it expired? (coupons, products, etc.)
Could it be replaced?
A case in point: Do I really need this many ball point pens? We collect them from motels, advertising campaigns, conventions, etc etc. with the idea that if we ever host a baby shower with 100 people they will come in handy. Donate them to Goodwill.
f) Categorize. If it is a paper pile. Make “to do” files for pending paperwork, but be very careful not to succumb to “out of sight, out of mind” tendencies. Make sure you mark a file: “urgent” if there are RSVPs or bills that need to be paid before they’re overdue….even thank you notes should be done sooner, rather than later. A general rule of thumb for paper piles is not to let it pass through your hands more than once. If it is in a pile to sort, it has already been handled once, so don’t save it again. Toss it, mail it, fill it out, or if you mean to pass it on to someone else, put that person’s name on a post it note attach it to the item and transfer it now to the dashboard in your car so you won’t forget to take it to them.
If your project is an unorganized area, make sure that you are only keeping the items in the space that are used there. For example, umbrellas should be in a basket or a cupboard by the door, not on your kitchen counter. The Phone Directory with the yellow pages should be in a drawer or shelf because we usually pull info up online anyway, right? If other family members have left items in the space, give them the responsibility of finding a place for it and putting it away. There are numerous scenarios for clutter that needs to be cleared out, but simply keep in mind that everything should have a proper place and there is a proper way to store or display it.
g) Use attractive storage containers. Be creative. Whether you use boxes, jars or baskets, take inventory and know what you will need. Even Dollar Stores have a variety of colorful options.
h) Keep it neat! Once you have cleared an area, don’t allow yourself or your family to clutter it up again. Easier said than done…but once it is in order, practice the discipline of keeping it that way. Staying organized is an ongoing process. If it isn’t working change it until it does.
PR: Moms are busy these days. If you are trying to juggle home life along with ministry, activities, or a job, how can you eek out a few minutes to organize your school room, pantry or office?
- Take baby steps. Tackle the small jobs first. Clean out just a little junk drawer and you will begin to reap the rewards of being in control….even if it is only an ordinary little area.
- Try the “team” approach. Include the kids. Make it a group project. Who knows? Maybe there is a “neat freak” in the family.
- Multi-task. When watching TV or talking on the phone, pull out a drawer and get to work. Dump it out on your lap and start sorting. Make sure you don’t neglect quality time spent with your family on video night etc., but don’t waste time doing mindless things if you can at least start a small organizing job at the same time.
- Barter and trade your talents. Maybe you love to bake and you have a friend who loves to organize but hates to cook. Offer to make that cake in exchange for a clean cupboard. Everyone has something they love to do. Find out who has the gift of organizing and find out what they loathe doing and offer to do it for them in exchange for cleaning your closets.
PR: You’ve raised your kids and now have grandchildren. Can you share with us who still have little ones in the home how you taught your children organizational skills? Or did they just learn it from watching you?
Janet: When I was raising my children, I was like any other Mother who struggled with keeping my home in order. I always desired a neat and organized home, but seldom ever had it under control. However, there were many days that I would become fed up with the messes, and there would be National “dump-out day.” I would drag out the contents of closets and dump out drawers on their beds. I would discover missing cereal bowls, hairbrushes and overdue assignments. After dealing with the wrath of Mom….they would slowly begin the process of putting things back where they belong or they would not be allowed to do the things they wanted to do like play outside. Unfortunately my kids spent many sunshiny days in their bedroom procrastinating and staring at the stuff that needed to be put away.
There were fun housework days and cleaning games as well. One thing we used to play was the “ten minute” game which both of my girls still play with their kids often. We would simply set a timer and all work in a room for ten minutes. It is amazing how much the team can all accomplish before the buzzer goes off. Even if we weren’t done in a room, we would have to move on to the next one and reset the timer. The only way you could go back and finish a room was if you finished another room early. The final results were not always perfect, but the house looked an awful lot better and we were usually done in the space of an hour depending on how many rooms we tackled.
When my two girls had to clean and organize a room together, we would sometimes flip a coin to determine which kid would be the “caller.” That person would have the privilege of sitting down and telling the other kid what to pick up next and where to put it away. This was a game I actually played all my life with my sisters. These methods must have worked because today they all enjoy well- organized workspaces and homes.
Today I use a different approach with my grandkids. They are aware of my motives and don’t enjoy the games, but bribing works well so rewards like fun food and videos work magic. They also love to “surprise” their Mom and clean up while she is out.
PR: OK, talk to us about organizing our TIME so that we have TIME to organize our lives?
Janet: No one seems to have enough of this precious commodity. How do we maximize the moments in our lives? I believe that the answer to this is to give God ALL of our time. He promises to order our steps and His Word clearly says: “Your ears will hear a word behind you, saying ‘This is the way. Walk in it.’ ” Isaiah 30:21
Believe it or not, most organizing jobs look overwhelming to me in the beginning. I always begin by praying for a strategy. God has never failed me. Sometimes it’s a step of faith and I just have to start dumping drawers and clearing out clutter. Before you know it, the Lord gives me the blueprint for the plan. He IS a God of order and we can trust Him to show us a way out of the most muddled messes.
I also believe it is important to make sure we are spending time with Him in the quiet place. How can we expect to hear His voice if we are not listening for it on a regular basis? For many of us this can’t happen until we crawl under our covers after a long day or force ourselves out of bed earlier than our flesh feels it’s time to get up.
Giving time to the Lord is like giving our money. When we give to God the portion we should, our resources are blessed. After tithing, the other nine tenths just seems to stretch out further. The same thing happens with our time. He blesses our time when we give time to studying His word and sitting with Him. Too often I have been more like Martha and have made household chores more important than sitting at His feet like Mary did. But God is a patient and compassionate God who helps us prioritize our lives once again. Becoming a good steward of our time is a life long learning process. The good news is that God redeems even our time squandered if we come to Him in humility and ask Him to help us choose the “better part.”
Do you have a space that definitely needs a professional’s touch? Do you have questions about organizing your school room, garage, or office? You can contact Janet at DO IT – Downsize, Organize, It’s Time! or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Linked to The Morris Tribe Blog Hop)