17 November 2010

The Gifts of Character::Orderliness & the Clutter Queen

"What a gift of grace to be able to take the chaos from within and from it create some semblance of order."
~Katherine Paterson

 I am not a tidy person. Not that I am dirty or living with filth (mostly). I am just not very good at putting things away. I have this beautiful new living room and every day we come home and make a new pile. The children are just as bad as I am {I fear that they are learning what they live...}.

Orderliness is living in a way that creates harmony around us and within us.

I have often wished to live in a Pottery Barn catalog home where the couch is rumpled on purpose and the books teeter ever so artfully on the edge of the coffee table. The office is neatly arranged and color coded, but it looks as if there is actual work getting done there. Of course, I would have a family that enjoyed that look as much as I do and wouldn't leave balled up socks lurking around every corner, candy wrappers stashed behind the couch and wouldn't tuck the wrappers from the band-aid back into the container {true dat... found that just this week in the linen closet}.

I want that harmony that is in the Pottery Barn world {complete with all the stuff that makes it look like that} but I know that it is out of my grasp. I am part way there, but not quite. 

We have a place for the things we use, and keep them where they belong.

To this day I wonder why my life is so cluttered and my sister's is so very orderly. Her house is generally spotless, this despite having two kids younger than mine. There is a place for everything and everything in its place. Her husband and son are constantly complaining that she hides things on them. No, she insists, she isn't hiding things. She just finds a more obvious spot for that thing. She will be the first to tell you that she is slightly OCD about organization. {I keep trying to get her to organize me... to know avail.}

Order and beauty in our homes and work spaces brings a sense of peace and freedom. Our thoughts and ideas flow more freely.

When I was a young whippersnapper my mother was always exasperated about me never cleaning my room.

"Creative minds are rarely tidy," I declared one day.

You can imagine how well that went over. ;-)

This is how my studio usually looks.
{This was actually taken some months ago before I moved furniture around. It is still a mess but arranged differently.}
This is how I envision my studio looking.

I sometimes get so fed up that I go through and clean sweep it all {sometimes that means clean sweeping it all into a big box and shutting the top ;-}. I wonder if I get more done in a space that is clear and clutter free or less. Sometimes I need that chaos around me so that I can be inspired and find exactly what I need. If I put it all away then I sometimes forget where I put it. Like the entire box of sterling silver beads and clasps that I could not find but stumbled on the other day. I tricked myself by putting it there, and have been without sterling for some weeks. 

We do not hold onto clutter. We clear the way for genuine abundance.

Paper is my biggest nemesis. I never know if I should get rid of it or not. I find a spot that seems obvious at the time to put that coupon or invite or letter... only to find it later on a frantic clean sweep when I have lost something and with it my mind. I have stacks of paper, and don't even get me started on my business records. I know, I know. I can't run a business if I don't keep better track of things. I always start out the year with grandiose plans as to how I will whip my paperwork into shape. And here it is November and I didn't use the binder and envelope system I devised in December last year. *sigh*

But reading that last line makes me pause.... if I were to keep a better handle on these things when they come up rather than waiting until the end of the year to make my organization would that lead to more abundance? Hmmm.... interesting concept.

Orderliness is being focused and purposeful, planning tasks step by step instead of going in circles. As we trust Divine order unfolding in our lives, we find a still point of order in our souls.

© Virtues Project International
To order your own set of Virtues Cards, visit Virtues Village LLC.

Do you live in a space that is orderly? Or is it a bit chaotic?
How do you feel in that space? Harmonious and peaceful or scattered and anxious?
Do you always put things away when you use them? What is your best organizational tip?
Are you are planner or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-er?

Do tell!


EmandaJ said...

Oh my, Dearest Erin, I live in C.H.A.O.S. (Cant's Have Anyone Over Syndrome) and I hate it! I just cannot seem to keep it orderly, no matter how much I try. I have been beating myself up about this, I've been in therapy about it (I have ODC but with hoarding tendencies) but now I try to remind myself "I'm working on this, I'm working on this".

I am glad to know I am not alone -- not the only creative person with this "dark and messy" side. thanks for being so open about this.


Be~Jeweled by Jana said...

I thought I was the clutter queen! My office/studio is a stacked piled cluttered mess. Our business paperwork is "organized chaos"! I do know where everything is and I do a good job with our business bookkeeping. Things are rarely out of place in the rest of my house because I can't stand clutter, but that room is a different story. And I spend the majority of my time in there! Every flat surface has piles and I'm constantly searching for beads that I know I have but can't find...until later when I'm looking for something else! For some reason, it doesn't bother me too much (until someone comes and I see it through their eyes! Then I have to admit it's a little embarrassing!) I think I'll go with your "creative mind" theory. Maybe I'll print that and hang it on the door!

Off the Beadin' Path said...

I can't believe I'm the first to comment on this subject!! the other readers must've shut down their computers and rushed for the nearest clipboard, clear plastic box and new shelving! Erin, you've been looking in my windows and now you're speaking to me through your post. Each grandiose statement about organization stabbed me straight through!! Ouch! How do I feel in my space? Terribly frustrated and scattered, not the real me. I'm making more effort to put things away but there just isn't a place for everything any more. Tips from someone of no authority whatsoever- Set the timer for 15 minutes and you'll be amazed at the results of your concentrated efforts; each day, or every time you pass by, take one item from a cluttered area and get rid of it, don't just move it to another pile. That said, I'm now going to take 17 little houses from Jubilee and put them in their own space with a label. I can do this! Thank you for this post!

SummersStudio said...

Ahhh, you've seen my studio. I work in chaos. When the ideas flow I think you need to go with them and that will definitely make a mess. My current theory is that if you have it all orderly and tidy when you are in the midst of making, then you will come out with something contrived.

But I do try to order things in between the ideas. That system is ever evolving. But for my more production oriented work there is a system that gets put back together rather regularly. In the end it is all about balancing what is comfortable. Many times I find putting it all back together just what I need to let my mind rest and have new ideas.

As for the rest of the household outside of the studio space. I think we live the same way. We seem to be comfortable with a bit of clutter. I'd love to live in a Pottery Barn room. But it just isn't going to happen.

Davinia said...

I can so relate. I have things from one end of the house to the other. I am by far the messiest person in our house (although I refuse to admit it to anyone). Heard my son muttering the other day that he can't wait to move out so he doesn't have to live amongst all the clutter! So now I'm determined to make it even more cluttery to hurry him along. If he moves I get his room for a studio!

Anonymous said...

I must confess I am slightly obsessive and have a place for everything all organised. Even my assemblage 'junk' is arranged by material-brass, plasic, copper, silver. My partner believes chaos rules- we have seperate studios!
I love the motto "Handle paper once" and documents (bills/warranties) get put into one big folder.

Lois Moon said...

Oh, I'm a clutter bug! My kitchen, dining room, and living room are neat on tidy as, perhaps, your sister's, but the rest of the house - Dios mio! I like to think it comes from growing up and proceeding to live in houses built before closets were large and possessions many. But I think it is that I actually like to see everything. My studio is crazy! I've got wire, polyclay, beads, seed beads, stamps, resin - everything you can imagine. I do stack clear plastic bins and have a label maker (wire, silver wire, stringing material, files, etc) and I have some clear plastic 6 drawer rolly carts. I think my beads will have to go into stackable trays (the kind used to display). I really hate plastic, but would rather buy silver wire than wooden trays! Besides, 14x8" trays can get stacked an tucked into a nice amoire (they are out of favor now that flat screen tv's have come). I do have to add that I also covet that Pottery Barn room. I have a giant old drafting table as my work surface and keep thinking that I need to clean up so that I can haul it to the center of the room. Yes, maybe I can get by with plastic trays if I have a few nice wood furniture pieces and put some art up on the walls. [All the big supply places have these stacking black plastic trays - you can get inserts of a variety of sizes.

And I see you are a "stick the papers to the wall" girl too. I once took a twin size quilt and hung it on the wall. Then I used straight pins to attach all of my papers, pics, and inspiration.

Barbara Lewis said...

I want what's behind Door No. 2! which will look like what's behind Door No. 1 once you get started working in there! It's a struggle, my friend, a tough row to hoe to overturn habits. Take it from one who's in the throws of it now. Although I was doing pretty good until I packed for Florida ... but it still has some semblance of order.

Lance said...

Hi Erin,
You know what...I can relate!

And we have that same thing - empty candy wrappers behind the sofa, a stray cup left here or there, etc, etc.

And we'll go through and get things cleaned up...only to see everything back to "normal" all too soon...

So, know that you are not alone. Hey, I know!! We could meet and do a group organization project!! (...or maybe that just sounds like extra work!). The meeting thing, though...that would still be very awesome!!

Spirited Earth said...

the older photo of your messy studio and then the shot of the dream studio just jiggled a laugh out of me..that would be a beautiful setup..however i have yet to see anyone working studio actually looking like that ..
all the bloggers studios seem to resemble your first photo..

Alice said...

Erin, my parents were meticulus about keeping things both spotless and tidy. For some reason I did not develop that trait, unlike my twin sister. She has three wild children and still manages to keep her home spotless and uncluttered. Her kids tell me she throws their toys away (she really takes them to charity) and they hardly have any to play with.

I don't know how it happened, me being messy and my twin being neat, but it did. Like you, I long for a home similar to the Pottery Barn photos, but I know it will never happen, even after the kids are gone. Honestly, with the last one just turning 14, I have learned to smile at the candy wrappers in the cushions, the used tissues a foot away from the trash can, and the line of clutter leading from the door. And don't get me started on my 'studio' which also doubles as our dining room.

My husband and I are just as bad, with piles and piles of paperwork on every flat surface, and project piles around the house. Most of the time I just accept it, but sometimes-like when I lose something-I get really frustrated. Though I long for a Pottery Barn home, I also think it might be a little boring.

I once had a boss who continued to pile work upon work on me and my desk was always cluttered. Once, ONCE I complained and he told me that an empty desk means an empty mind. I remind myself of this every time I get frustrated with the clutter.

Michelle said...

ok Miss Erin...I loved this post. I struggle with the tidiness gene! My mom is a fanatic when it comes to clean and tidy (a magazine on the table and the house is a mess!). I on the other hand, like clean but the messy I can deal with. After awhile, it drives me bonkers and have to clean it all but in about 5 minutes the mess starts to creep back in. When I lived by myself, I cleaned every week and everything was pretty tidy, but now I always feel like a mess. I guess I'm rebelling being close to 40! LOL The studio table and counters are a mess. I clean up...but don't get it all done--lose steam and then it's all back. I guess I would love to have a better layout (love the beautiful clean studio shot that you have), but my space is more like yours...and I think that most creatives are like that.
When I do put everything away, I lose my creative mojo--it looks good, but then I'm not inspired. Although when it's too messy, I'm not inspired either.
I think that I am both a planner and a fly-by-th-seat-of-my-pants. The big things I plan...everything else....eh! LOL
After Turkey day, I'm installing a few small sheets of peg board so that I can get the hammers and Cuttlebug folders and alcohol inks off my metal counter station....maybe that will free up some space to create!

Great post!

Yeli said...

I posted a message on my FB yesterday morning. I wrote that I was proud of myself. I had never had the house so organized. My bills have a place, and so does 90% of the things in my house. I still have work ahead of me, but I have cleared needed space and the order is not only on the outside but also inside cabinets, drawers and shelves.
But to maintain this order, I have to put things away as soon as they enter the house or else, I will be back to my old habits.
My next project is my studio.

Unknown said...

I live in orderliness where everything has its place and is put away after being used, but work in chaos. The top of my desk (and also my torch table) is rarely seen. I get overwhelmed by filing, so papers are everywhere in stacks. I feel better when everything is clean and in its place, but I am able to overlook all the paperwork needing my attention.

LadyFi said...

LOL - my space looks just like yours. And even though I dream of having those uncluttered Scandinavian spaces that everyone else in Sweden seems to achieve, I'm not sure I would be really happy without my 'clutter'...

Cynthia said...

Great post Erin! I feel as though you were writing about me, except substitute OCD sister for messier sister, and kid/candy wrappers with cats/hairballs. I am a firm believer in "A place for everything, and everything in it's place", but the problem is, I don't have a "place" for everything!! I prefer to say I'm a collector ("hoarder" has a negative connotation to it), so there is alot of clutter, in every room. Add to that, my husband tends to leave stuff right where he finished using it, and, well, it is not Pottery Barn.
And, I do occasionally get the itch to pick up and put away, but then, I can't find anything later. If the mortgage bill wasn't out on the kitchen counter, I might forget to pay it!!

So good to know we are all in this together!!

lunedreams said...

I have never had the gift of organization. When I work in an organized environment (that someone else organized of course) it is definitely easier to function, but my mind just doesn't go there (towards creating orderliness) and neither does my energy. (The very phrase "organizational system" makes me hyperventilate.) I organize only as a necessity, and only very broadly, when I either get tired of not being able to find stuff or have no room to work. Some people find it easy and enjoyable to devise complex organizational systems, and their energy just flows toward creating order. It's like a pastime! They can't NOT do it. This is their default state. I don't think they're more evolved or more disciplined than people who are not this way, any more than people who are gifted at math are better than people who are not. This is just natural human variation. That said, I think we all have our "clutter threshold" beyond which we can't work or think effectively anymore. When that happens we need to do something different (like hire somebody to organize things. ha! seriously.). I often have stuff scattered everywhere b/c I want to be able to see it (it's stuff I might want to work with), but when something finally crystallizes I need to put all the "also rans" away and clear my work space so I can focus. It's a cycle of hauling it out and spreading it around and then putting most of it away. Enlisting someone to organize you is a perfectly acceptable, and a good idea--it's no different than hiring someone to fix your computer. It's not your thing and you can't spare the energy to learn to do it yourself, so you hire out. Being disorganized is nothing to be ashamed of, it's just sometimes frustrating.

Silver Parrot said...

Oh, I am terrible. I grew up in a totally OCD household and I rebelled against it at a very early age and I just keep on rebelling. The massive amounts of kid-related-crap are helping what few cleaning and organizational impulses I have. Nor did it help that the day after I finally cleaned and reorganized my entire studio we were hit with a 2nd story flood in the house that required moving everything into the recently cleaned studio - where it remains almost 2 years later.


Lately, I console myself by watching that show "Hoarders" on A&E - because as long as I'm "not THAT bad", I don't have to feel guilty.

I dream of the day I win the lottery and can pay a professional organizer/decorator to come and "fix" me and my house.

Clutterbugs of the world, unite!

Brandi Hussey said...

I have to admit that I'm worse than you. I hardly ever put things away because I usually have several things in progress. So, naturally, my studio's a wreck.

Normally I can function in the middle of that chaos. This week... not so much. It's gotten to the point that while I can still see the floor, some maintenance needs to be done. And suddenly, I flash back to college.

Before finals, I'd have to clean. It took several semesters before I figured out why - in order for me to focus on a big mental task, I need the space I'm in to be tidy, if not neat. So, with the final push for the holidays coming up, I need to tidy up a bit. Maybe then I can actually get stuff done! It's on the agenda for this weekend...

Beverley Baird said...

I can so relate! I am a piler, a paper collector and can't keep up with all that is in my tiny house! I always say that when I retire all my school stuff will be gone and we'll have lots of space! Yeah right!
Greatpost Erin!

Unknown said...

OOPS I am so not totally among this crowd. I am from the opposite end. I grew up with a hoarder and to be honest I do have some of those tendencies but I have a fear of the stuff taking over! The only thing I can offer all of you in the chaos is to just start with one area at a time. It may make another area a little messier but if you take on one pile at a time (I know that ADD thing comes into play alot) and make a place for that stuff then you can move on to the next trying to keep in mind that you now have a designated place for the first and so on. I had to do that when cleaning my mom's after she passed and although it was a long process it worked! Hugs to all who can have messes and not freak out I haven't found that balance yet (except of course on my bead tray)

Mary K. McGraw said...

I could relate to everything you said. And I also have a sister who's house is immaculate and everything has a place. At this late date I do not think I will change. The last time I did a clean sweep was in late Oct. when my in-laws came to visit and 2 Net Flex DVDs got lost in the clean up and have never been seen since. I definitely function a lot better when everything is visible.


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