Review of The Organized Heart: a woman’s guide to conquering chaos

God has appointed all my tasks – my work is planned by Him from the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 2: 9-10) Do all that I do with enthusiasm and purpose because I’m doing it for God. (Colossians 3:23) These are things that I remind myself of often, and that Staci Eastin also thinks of when she goes about daily life. In The Organized Heart she uses her 103 pages well, to with humility and grace, skip the fluff and hone in on why we do what we do. Motives are examined (I can hear you now – I just want to have order so I can think!) and dealt with so we can live our lives with peace in our hearts and heads. (You will be able to think.) From putting things off, to doing something else we’d rather do, to working our fingers to the bone to maintain a ‘perfect’ home, this book has something to say.

Most books on home and life organization are all about the tools we need to get the job done. Staci starts with the heart of the matter, which is our motives. In four chapters, she deals with Perfectionism, Busyness, Possessions and Leisure. Each chapter ends with “Explore” questions to help us see where our hold ups are and what to do about them. After dealing with heart issues she discusses the tools we need – calendars, lists and such. I think the difference is when we deal with our motives first, we use the tools rather than being slaves to them.

If you need a little extra kindness Staci Eastin has that, too. She addresses single moms and those who have health issues. She writes with wisdom about the different seasons in our lives and the fact that our personalities are not all the same. I appreciated her tenderness for those who are discouraged and feel hopeless. This is a book that I will refer back to many times. It is written by a wise woman who knows how to shine light where it needs to be shone in order to help us face ourselves, but who also applies God’s abundant grace to help us heal. I’d rather read this book than any of the other home organization books I’ve read over the years.

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Looking for a Way to Clean House That Takes No Time At All

I’ve done FlyLady’s routines – adapted to my own life, which is how we are supposed to use her system, since…oh, wow…since July 4, 2001. I didn’t realize it had been that long! Wow. So, I guess we could say it works for me, huh? Either that, or I like to torture myself.  Nope. It works. I have the Control Journal all fixed up and everything, as well as a notebook for Christmas and another that I put together for all other holidays. Yep, I’m in it.

There is one main thing I have to remember and that is that nothing is in place exactly the same way all the time. There are times that situations change and things have to be tweaked to fit, like this past year. We changed the purposes of two rooms (actually, one of them year before last), my husband had surgery on his wrist and elbow, and I found out the reason my digestive system felt like it had been to a rock concert and my energy level was pretty dismal was diet-related. Add to that the fact that since my husband went back to work (after six weeks off for surgery) he has an ever-changing schedule with sometimes no two days in a week with the same hours – he might go in as early as 7 am or as late as 1:30 pm…it’s just been tough. I still have my Control Journal, but it’s time for a major tweaking.

I’m moving some things to the Afternoon FlyList that were on the Morning one and vice-versa. Also, since I want to spend more time doing things related to art, writing, sewing, garden and yard, this house stuff is going to have to get done really quickly. Just in case you want to know, I won’t be dust mopping floors in the morning; I’m moving that to the Afternoon FlyList. I’d rather get up in the morning with clean floors and be able to get started on those other things that much quicker. Birds are being fed in the afternoon now since I read that suggestion (somewhere) so that they will have food ready for them in the morning after a cold night. This is much better for them since when hubby has worked late, they are out there looking for groceries before I’m even awake. I’m doing the 15 minutes of FACE (Financial Awareness Continually Empowers) in the mornings rather than afternoon, so I can get it behind me. It’s a paperwork/money thing and ignoring this stuff could create problems, but I don’t like messing with it, so if I do it early it’s out of the way for the day.

Since things were being moved all over the house while turning a bedroom into a study and a den into a studio, I figured it was as good a time as any to do a really deep cleaning and reorganizing of the entire house since it was pretty much all involved anyway. This was wall washing and everything! It has taken me a long time (I’ve painted my shed and enlarged our garden and worked on other yard projects, too) but I’m now down to just my closet and bedroom. Then I’ll redecorate the house with pictures and such and be finished. Ha. We know there is never a “Finish” when it comes to house stuff, don’t we?

Since I want to effortlessly maintain what I’ve done, last night and this morning I read an entire book. I gobbled it up! The name of it is “The House That Cleans Itself,” by Mindy Starns Clark. I wish I could borrow a few children so I could do the “Room Ownership” system that she describes. There is more than one way to maintain a clean house and she explains three of them. I don’t have children here, so I’ll have to go with one I can do myself, and it looks like I pretty much have it in place with FlyLady. I just want to get some deep cleaning worked in on a regular basis without it taking much time. In order to do that, I’m going to make Zone Missions (FlyLady thing) part of my deep cleaning routine; maybe I’ll just spend 10 minutes a day tending to shelves or drawers. Since I seem to be a pretty visual person and I forget what I own if I don’t see it, (Mindy Starns Clark is visual, too, so her book was easy for me to relate to) this will be a good way for me to keep up with what I have, and donate what I don’t need on a regular basis.

For anyone who is cleaning challenged, as Mindy and Marla, aka FlyLady, both describe themselves, these two systems are really good. If you aren’t cleaning challenged, but don’t want to spend your entire life cleaning a house, these two systems are really good and I think they integrate pretty well. I’d recommend reading both ladies’ books (Marla Cilley wrote “Sink Reflections”) and websites; they are similar, but each has some different little details that different folks will find helpful. While you are reading, my advice would be to get started on the FlyLady site with her step-by-step missions. You will begin to see progress in small increments and this will motivate you to keep going. Both ladies are great cheer leaders. So…here’s to more time to CREATE (or whatever it is that you want to do) and less time spent cleaning. Sounds good to me!

Overcoming Obstacles to Being Organized

Yesterday someone saw an area of my life that is organized and she started telling me how important it is to have things in such good order, especially since this is of a medical nature.  I explained that years ago our insurance was a HMO.  Never before did I have to contact the insurance company so often. (They even got upset because I took our son to have his eyes checked to see if his glasses needed to be changed and I did it without a referral!) If I was going to keep things straight when dealing with insurance, I had to write down who I spoke with on the phone, when I spoke with them and what about, so I started a notebook. Later it occurred to me that I ought to write down what the doctor says when I see him so I put that in the notebook. Once I was filling out forms to have a test done and, oh, gee. One page asked for info on past tests and surgeries and family history. So, now I have all that in my notebook as well.

All that said, the point of this is not the notebook. The lady who admired it works in the medical field and she was telling me how important it is to have it all written down, especially what medicine I can and can’t take. Then she started telling me how unorganized she is. She has trouble remembering what she’s supposed to do when and where she’s supposed to be. Someone once gave her a little notebook to keep in her purse to help her keep up with herself but she would forget to use it. I told her that I have run out the door to the doctor’s office without my notebook so, I don’t do this perfectly!

Keeping up with our schedules and responsibilities is a matter of habit and all we have to do is change our habit. There’s a lady named Marla Cilley who calls herself Flylady. Marla says whatever we do everyday is a habit whether it’s the habit we want to have or not. So, it’s a matter of changing habits. If you aren’t familiar with Flylady and you want to build good organizational habits (she has a great way to get you through Christmas!) check out her website at http://www.flylady.net. She gets what it is to live a side-tracked life and has helped many a person (male and female) get on track with free daily email reminders. She is able to turn a lot of things that are boring – and don’t we sometimes procrastinate because it’s boring? – into a game.

One more thing to consider. I read a really good book years ago by Os Guinness, “Of Two Minds: The Dilemma of Doubt and How to Resolve It.” This book is primarily about faith, unbelief and doubt and how to work through these things but, something he said that applies to a lot of areas of life is relevant here. Our identity can get all wrapped up in our problems so that we don’t see ourselves without the problem but we see the problem as part of who we are. It’s possible that the lady I spoke with yesterday was not only telling me something about herself; she was telling me who she is. We have to be willing sometimes to want to change how we see ourselves and also deal with the change in relationship equilibrium that it causes when we do change. What if there is someone in this dear lady’s life who likes her that way? Someone who would feel threatened by her changing? Sometimes we have to be brave to change.

Well, if you would like to be more organized or, even if you just feel like you are the only person on the planet who is cleaning a house everyday and you’re tired of feeling isolated, you might like Flylady’s methods. I got her email for a few years myself and enjoyed the thought that if I was wiping down my front door (a very short, less than 10 minute chore) so were folks all over the world. I found out later that not only were the members in the US doing that little chore that day along with those in Australia, England, Spain and other countries but, so did a good friend who lives across town from me. And right now as I’m writing, I have my Holiday Control Journal (a freebie on her site), right next to me. I’ll be doing a bit of Christmas shopping today.