Inside of me lives a very organized woman struggling to get out. She’s been in there for years with dreams of living in a highly organized, easy-to-find-things-in house. Poor girl, she just can’t find her way out through the maze of creativity, untidyness and yes, a little bit of laziness. Perhaps she hangs out with the skinny girl who loves to work out, also residing deep inside.

Though I often have amazingly brilliant ideas for ways to get things in order, I seem to struggle with follow through. Then there are the “organizers.” These are the people for whom organization comes naturally and they just can’t fathom why the rest of us struggle so much. Many of them write books on the subject; I currently have eight on my Kindle.

The other day I decided that I should perhaps actually read one of these books to see what I could glean about getting organized. The book is titled De-clutter Your Home Fast (Clutter Rehab for Organized Simplicity.) Now typically when I read a book that doesn’t do much for me, I don’t write about it. I’m not here to be mean. And really, this author has some fine ideas – for people who lean towards being organized. I know he’s trying to help and I appreciate the effort.

The book (which by the way is only 37 pages long) starts with all the reasons why a person needs to stay organized: It helps create an uncluttered mind, greater financial success, and less time spent looking for things, etc. Yes, I realize that. Why do you think I’m reading your book? Move on.

Then he suggests that we (those of us wanting to get organized) involve the whole family in the process. Personally, I can’t see how this will ever be a good idea. Certainly not when you have small children. They will only create more mess, not aid in the cleanup. And teenagers? Maybe, if you have girls. I wouldn’t know. There might be a stage between toddler and teen that you could get an especially organized child to be helpful. If you have such a child, consider yourself blessed.

My personal favorite line in the “family involvement chapter” says this: “If you are living with your lover, and have no children to attend to, de-cluttering can be a fun activity for both of you.” OR, it could completely destroy your relationship! Seriously? What kind of person thinks this is going to be fun? Sure, when you’re done it’ll be nice to have it finished, but the process is only really pleasurable for people who enjoy doing that kind of thing. The rest of us would rather go to the beach or the ball game . . . or the doctor.

On the bright side, the book did provide a few laughs. Consider this tip: “Let the people in your household also know where to put things.” I mean no disrespect to my husband at all, but I can assure you he will show minimal interest to a tour of “where things go.” (If he didn’t love me he’d pay absolutely no attention whatsoever.) After said tour, he will promptly go back to whatever he was doing and completely forget everything I just told him.

Admittedly, my desperation through the years has yielded a few good results in the organizational department so I thought I’d share my very few tips with you – in case you’re more like me than the authors of organizational books.

Here’s what has helped me:

  • If you can get your “Paper” under control that’s 2/3 of the battle. Get a file cabinet, Smead Viewables to label your folders, and create a file for anything paper oriented: bank statements, credit card bills, warranty information, travel brochures, ANYTHING paper that you want or need to save. (This is one of the few tips that I got from a professional organizer that has worked well for me.) The Smead Viewables are priceless!

  • Have one spot where you always put your keys and use it faithfully. This will save you countless hours looking for them. I’m good with this about 80% of the time. The rest of the time I spend asking Jesus to please help me find them.

  • Get a label maker. It may not help much, but if you throw a few labels on things you’ll at least feel like you’re getting ahead of the game. And, it’ll look like you’re at least trying.

  • Get rid of the things you don’t wear or don’t use. It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? It’s not. I know.

  • The only way to de-clutter quickly is to burn your house down. Don’t do that.

Most importantly, don’t get down on yourself because your house doesn’t look like that of your super organized friends. They’ve got their gifts – you have yours. It’s how God created us. He can’t be wrong.

Photo courtesy of Flikr and photographer Karl Sinfield