You see, (and this will come as a shock to some of you) there are people out there who lean toward the messy side of life, and we don’t really care if everything is in its place. We can fall asleep just fine knowing that there are dirty dishes on the counter or folded laundry on the coffee table. That pile of toys we need to sort for the neighborhood yard sale? It can wait.
That is, until we can’t find what we’re looking for. And then we care VERY MUCH that everything isn’t in its place. In those moments when we’re frantically searching for [fill in the blank here], we desperately wish that a) we had a place for everything and b) we’d actually put it all where it goes.
And so it is, after years of resisting all things structure and routine, I find myself blogging about organization. Sad to say, my fellow messy friends—but being organized really works.
Because I’m a free spirit who can’t be bothered with expressions like, “A place for everything, and everything in its place,” I’ve come up with a new rule to keep track of life. (This is important, because now that I’m married with three children…whom I homeschool…I have quite a bit to keep track of these days!)
The new expression is this: “Touch it once.” Those of you who are naturally organized are yawning about now and thinking, “Duh!” This is because you can’t fathom the depths of our messy souls.
Let me help you with that. Picture this all-too-common scenario. You walk through the door after a busy day, drop your purse on the counter, and begin to think about dinner. (Hopefully, you’re living on a meal plan and know exactly what you’re making for dinner, but that’s a blog post for another day.)
During meal prep, you need more space, so you fling the purse to the table. Of course, at some point, you need to clear the table for the family dinner, so you plop that purse in next most likely place: the couch. Later, all you want to do is relax on the sofa, so you move the purse yet again…this time, to the floor on the other side of the coffee table.
And there it sits. You don’t give it a second thought until the next morning, when you find yourself running through the house frantically yelling, “Has anyone seen my purse?!”
So sad. I know, because I’ve lived this way for years. While this kind of life can be exciting, it’s hardly the best solution for running a simple life and home. How much better to walk in the door and immediately put that purse on its hook in the mud room? It will be right where you need it tomorrow morning, and you’ll have lots of extra time in your evening since you won’t be schlepping that purse everywhere!
This principle works for just about everything: hairbrushes, magazines, library books, you name it. Every time I’m tempted to lay something down where it doesn’t belong because it’s convenient in that moment, I remind myself, “Touch it once.” Then I take the extra 30 seconds to return it to its rightful location.
Granted, changing my messy ways has taken years of reprogramming, and I’m not always perfect. I still lose things at times. But not half as often as I used to. My house is cleaner, and I have to admit, it’s pretty nice to wake up to clean countertops and clear coffee tables. Maybe there’s something to this organization thing after all! (Now if I can just get my kids to apply this principle…!)