Out of the chaos, order emerges

12 October 2010
I've never been what you would call an organised person but now I feel a bit like a quantum physicist - out of the chaos, order emerges. I have found, through trial and error, that unless there is a fair amount of order and planning, and a changed mindset that embraces making do with what I have, I would be running out to the shop to buy a last minute ingredient or spending more money on bits and pieces than I would like. That kind of thinking is unsustainable and contrary to how we now live.

Now I make lists and plans for all the new things I do. Once I have them down pat, I don't have to list and plan, but in the beginning, it's vital. When we first started stockpiling - which is another wonderful form of planning - I had menu plans. Now I have a set number of dishes, that change with the seasons, and unless I'm incorporating a new dish into the rotation, it's done without writing it down. But you don't get to that point without the initial plans and working to them every day.

We have a permanent shopping list now so we know that we have all the raw ingredients for everything we need to make - from delicious home cooked meals to laundry liquid and green cleaners. We rarely deviate from the list and only buy more when we have a family gathering or visitors staying with us. When the items are brought home, they're sorted to be stored in either the stockpile, pantry or freezer and added to those areas so that older items are brought to the front and new items added at the back. That system encourages constant rotation of stock.

I have arranged my fabric stash in colours, have jars for buttons so I know where I can always find a button and have all my scissors in the same place. Embroidery cottons are contained in two boxes, pins and needles are in separate containers, tape measures are wound up and stored together and thimbles are lined up along a small shelf. It took a bit of time to organise it all but now it's easy to find what I need and as I am sewing fairly often, and sometimes need running repairs quickly, it saves time and the frustration of searching.

I'm not obsessed with having everything in the exact place. I'm flexible and will return things to their rightful place when I can, not because I must have order, but because it's easier that way. Once that order is established, you'll find you'll slip into a natural rhythm with your work. You won't be constantly interrupted by looking for something you need, with everything in it's own place, your rhythm will take you through the day, you'll be mindful of what you're doing and get everything done that needs doing.

If you've not yet organised yourself or you home, or if you have but you keep slipping backwards, I encourage you to do it again and when a few things start becoming untidy or are found away from where they should be, take a small amount of time to set everything right again. Being organised, without being obsessive about it, will help you maintain your home and your sanity. And even if you believe yourself to be a chaotic or unorganised person, order, planning and organisation are just new skills to learn that will help you live to the plan you have for yourself. Are you good at organising yourself? Tell me what your tricks are.


  1. I have to have order with all my bits and peices. Then there is no searching high and low. Now to get hubs trained the same way!!

  2. Would you share your shopping list with us? Sometimes it helps to know what a good shopping list looks like and we can tweek it to our needs!
    Thanks, lovely post and pictures!

  3. I am hoping to get myself to this point. I try, on a daily basis. One day it will be as I need it to be. The fact that you know where everything is saves so much time and in that, gives you more time to enjoy what you have and what you need to do. I just have to keep those thoughts at the very top of my mind.
    Thanks for this post, it is encouraging me to get in my craft room and start organising...my daughter has been telling me I need to!

  4. I have been feeling extra un-orderly lately. With having had our third baby four weeks ago we've welcomed into our house not only a baby, but all the gifts that come with it. We live in a very small house and with now five people filling it, order is needed. In fact I think I will get off the computer and go add a little order to my house full of chaos!

  5. Today's organisational task is to clean and sort the linen closet. It's at the stage that I'm in serious danger of being in an avalanche of sheets and pillow cases evertime I open the door.

    Can I second Grace's request too about sharing your shopping list?

  6. As a child, and 1 of 12, now 11, we were all given jobs. Small as they may seem we had jobs before and after school and on top of this our rooms and beds had to be orderly. Both my grandmothers lived with us and sometimes my ma took in strays too. One grandmother ran the kitchen ( the sweet gentle one, always smiling) and i do not recall ever seeing her without an apron. The other ran the laundry and she carried a large wooden spoon (the cranky one). There was always something fresh from the oven upon returning from school and clean clothing to put away. There was always time for play of course and we and some of us were often helping out our neighbours. No tv then and i am grateful for these foundations as i have passed this on to my children with strict tv allowances, bed always made and room tidied before leaving for the day. While i type the laundry is on and bread is in the maker (of course this is easy to do as it only takes minutes) So routine is definitely a path for a less complicated life. Both my parents worked full time. When my mother retired at age 67 she then set to work in my sisters commercial kitchen as she was not the type to sit around at home and loved being not only busy ...but with people.
    She does tell us though that she regrets not spending more time with us. She is still with us 89 and although 'living in care' is basically caring for herself. She has support and lots of friends, a blessed time for her. When we speak about things she often reiterates the basics....'then you'll be right love' she says.

  7. I don't wait for a "perfect" time to organize. With two little boys running and crawling around, strangely enough, I've found that I can still get things sorted as I go along my day, if I take it in little chunks, and often, the organizing doesn't take as long as I thought it would.

    One defining question I have gotten into the habit of asking myself as I go along is "Is this the best way to do this?" and also, "Is this the best place for this object?" I am also constantly questioning the right of things to belong in our house. If we haven't used them in awhile or are holding onto them for the wrong reasons, out they go to be donated.

  8. Yeah I'm pretty organised -- lists, places for things etc. But I do develop "blind spots" where I get used to things piling up. This is just the prod I needed!

    Totally agree with the permanent shopping list, I have one too and it saves time, money and last minute trips to the shops.

  9. I love keeping things in order, though I find I need to reorganize every one in a while. I get rushed and am not always as good about getting something back where it belongs or I decide upon a better way to organize. When stuff is in a jumbled mess I am much more stressed.

    Like you I restock the pantry by adding to the back of a row to keep items fresh.

    Right now my organization project is to put the photos I want to save on my computer in an appropriate file and delete others.

    Seeing your, what I believe to be, dish cloths made me smile. I crochet similar cloths, though mine do not have as many pretty patterns.


  10. Wow, I certainly admire your organisation. I'm afraid I've only just started to get organised. I do love a list. Unfortunately, my husband is a great big mess-maker! Sigh.

  11. Very inspiring post. In fact very inspiring blog!
    My husband and I are in the process of having a house built in a small country town. I love cooking, knitting, sewing and hopefully I will like gardening. We are going to have a couple of chooks, a cat and a vegetable garden and we can't wait.
    P.S. I noticed you love to knit. Have you joined "Ravelry.com". It has lots of free knitting patterns and inspiration for knitting and crocheting from all around the World. Well worth joining.

  12. I'm not the world's most organised person either but have found the key is having a place for everything, or most things. Once it's plonked somewhere, without a home to go to (ie cupboard, shelf, drawer etc), another item will sidle up to keep it company and before you know it you have a PILE!

    Having somewhere to store or keep your "stuff" means it can take just a quick tidy up for your home to look neat again.


  13. I tend to be an organized person anyway, but do find that I will take stock of my (our) lives a couple of times a year and think back on how I could have done things differently. I never berate myself for not being as organized as I like as I believe it is a lifelong process that will change with the seasons of our lives. You never know when a new idea will hit and then that sure makes your day! I love the pictures you insert and I have a quick question on the red one in the knitting picture. Will it be a basket when it is finished? If so would be be willing to share the pattern? I enjoy your blog and keep up the good work on it.
    Jean from Canada

  14. I'm in the process of doing a fall cleaning/household organization right now. I started with my daughter's room, as I needed to pack away too-small clothes and get out ones in the current size. As I go, I'm trying to get rid of things we no longer need or use, and find better places for things that we have--places that make sense, not just "this is where it fits, so I'll stuff it there." It's a slow process, with lots of "help" from my two-year-old, but definitely worth doing.

    One thing I've discovered is that once I've organized a space, I need to tidy it frequently or risk backsliding into the chaos. It's worth taking 10 minutes now to save myself time and frustration later.

  15. We are once again going through items and reorganizing for the life we live now.
    We have had to purchase some items (mostly second hand), but the new items serve a purpose and have a storage space waiting for them ..I Love Simple Living~~Less is More

  16. Hello Rhonda,
    To be fairly organised is so freeing. I am slowly working through excess bits and pieces we have since my Dad came to live with us. He wanted to bring everything with him and at the time I also had to empty and clean my mother in laws unit. I was so busy and very tired at the time I just agreed to let it all come here. I am slowly working throughit all. It is hard to pack things from the family home and just give them away but once they are dropped off at the Salvo's it's so good.The big fellow is a bit of a hoarder but I can now let things go. My home is easier to clean and it gives me more time to do other things that I really enjoy. Oh yes, I am a list maker to.

    Blessings Gail

  17. I truly struggle with being organised. My good intentions never seem to come to fruition.

    I, too, am fascinated by the knitted basket. Right now I am struggling to find my book of patterns to make some baby stuff.

    Thanks for sharing.

  18. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I am a very organzied person. I don't funtion well without complete order. We just moved to a new home and I have been busy getting everything unpacked and organized. I wrote a couple post with pictures about it this past weel. http://reallifeafter50.blogspot.com/ When you have time stop by and look. I love my P Touch labeler.

  19. Hi Rhonda

    Thanks for this. Yup,, being organised is one of the key important thing in life. I have learnt this myself.
    I used to be disorganised in the terms of cooking. Never had a menu plan. What happend next was I kept on buying things that I did not need and they were just sitting there in my pantry! But now, being " a little bit" organised - having a weekly menu plan - it does help me as I know what to cook and what to buy. And,, it does save me money :D

    Thanks once again for your beautiful and inspiring blog. Keep up the good work :D

  20. I find I can be organised once I get going, but when I'm settling into a new place it can take forever, as I'm trying to get into a new rhythm and set things up. So this is where I'm at at the moment

  21. You wrote this post especially for me, I think.
    I hope one day to be ORGANISED!

  22. This is something that could use some more work in my own life - I enjoy order, but find that things tend to get away from me, especially when work gets busy (as it very much is now). Step one should probably be to get rid of clutter, which is what I'm working on now, but even though there's still a lot to do, I find it inspiring and hopeful to be working progressively towards something better like this.

  23. Hi there! I found your blog a couple of weeks ago, but haven't commented yet. I'm still reading through your past posts. Lol. Just wanted to say that you are so right about having some sort of order for your home. It makes it run so much smoother without unnecessary hiccups. Since being a stay at home mom, I've had to learn the hard way how to run my home. I learn from wonderful bloggers like yourself and really good books! I'm still learning! Thanks for having such a useful and pretty blog! I'm visual and your pictures are adorable.



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