My Old Unorganized Life
When life isn’t organized, we suffer for it. Our minds are filled with the pressure of all the things we should be doing. Even when we take a moment to relax, we feel guilty because there is so much left to do. 24 hours in a day doesn’t feel like enough. It seems like we have to choose between completing chores and having enough sleep.
That used to be me. Sort of. After having our first baby it seemed that I couldn’t complete chores or sleep! I’m grateful to have a mother in law who could help me out through that crazy first baby time. However, knowing that I want to have a large family meant I had to find a way to get my life in order.
So how did I clean up my life? I found resources to help teach me what I never learned at home or at school. How to get (and STAY) organized, and how to develop a Rule of Life. Here is what I found:
Decluttering Life and Home
Before I could build a routine and stick to it, I had to declutter my life. This process started with all my files and artwork. I used to keep every single paper I ever wrote anything on. Well, just about. I was able to recycle at least 50% of what I was storing. I digitized memories (by taking pictures), and tossed easily accessible information (like grammar cheat sheets).
Actually, I am still purging papers. As I am getting ready to move I’ve added university notes and papers to the recycle. I have all those papers on my computer, so there is no need to lug around that extra weight. I’ve learned that everything I store is taking up space in my life. Clearing out what I don’t need gives me more room to breathe and love the things that matter.
Decluttering is about more than just physical space. Making decisions is mental work for our brains. Every time we have to make a choice, we use up some of our energy.
They say 1 minute of planning can save 10 minutes in execution.
There are a couple easy ways I’m working to save myself mental work. One is by meal planning. Another is having a cleaning routine. The cleaning routine has saved me so much stress. When the house looks like a disaster after a tornado – I mean, my baby has run through it – I know exactly how I can tidy up without getting overwhelmed. The steps are already laid out, my plan is made to be simple for me. It really works.
How to Declutter and Organize
I’ve always been determined to have an organized and pretty space. Maybe you have too. Problem is, I didn’t know how to make it happen. As a child I dreamed of cute labelled boxes and bins, with everything always put away. (I didn’t have money to buy cute bins, but wouldn’t have known how to organize them anyway). My reality was clothes hanging over chairs and door knobs. This did not improve once I got married.
One day, when my husband had The Catholic Chanel playing on the radio, the answer came. Jennifer Fultwiler interviewed Cassandra (Cas) Aarssen from http://clutterbug.me/. Cas talked about the four different organizing styles, and the importance of knowing which one works for you. (I am a Butterfly). Her book, Real Life Organizing: Clean and Clutter-Free in 15 Minutes a Day, has changed my life.
If you want to work on decluttering, I really recommend learning your organizing style and following through on Cas’ suggestions. She offers effective solutions for purging unnecessary items. And, Cas shows how to organize your home so that it is functional for you.
Where the Rule of Life Comes in
In case you were wondering, let’s start with what is a Rule of Life? Basically, it is a formulation of how you want to live your life. It is a form of building a routine which seeks to balance all your commitments and make them easier to keep. It started in monastic communities, as early as in the 3rd century. However, the most popular (and one I am familiar with) is the Rule of St. Benedict. In the Rule, St. Benedict proscribes certain prayers and activities (like the Liturgy of the Hours and spiritual reading). My own Rule of Life follows many of the aspects of St. Benedict’s, partly because I am a Benedictine oblate.
Following a Rule of Life helps you live according to your values. While monastics follow Rules of Life formed for community living, you face many commitments and challenges that they do not. For that reason, I recommend prayerfully discerning and crafting your own Rule.
Your Rule of Life should focus on your vocation, including work, family, prayer, and rest. There are many templates online that can help you form one. However, I am going to suggest a resource that I found, which was absolutely amazing.
Developing Your Own Rule of Life
For forming your own Rule of Life, I recommend reading A Mothers Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul. Author Holly Pierlot explains how making a Rule of Life has helped her keep her life in order. (And she homeschools her large family!). She also goes through the various aspects of her vocation, including being a wife, a mom, and a Catholic. She shows all the questions you need to ask yourself before making a Rule. Then she sets up several templates for building the Rule based on your discernment.
Holly’s step by step examination of your life will prepare to make a realistic Rule that will serve you in all areas of your life. I plan on going through her discernment process again every year as my family grows, and what they need from me changes. (Her book is thorough, so I know I am asking myself all the right questions). It is well worth investing in A Mothers Rule of Life.
My Rule of Life: How it is Working
While my Rule of Life has things scheduled to the quarter hour, it is more about the order of tasks than exact times. Since implementing the Rule, my prayer life has become consistent again, and I’ve been getting my work done around the house. And, when I’m taking a break, I never feel guilty because I know I am doing it for the right reasons and not procrastinating on more important tasks. It feels so good to be able to take care of myself while still meeting the needs of my family members.
In short, the Rule of Life brings much needed balance to my day. Even my baby is napping better, now that that I am able to add some routine to her day.
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