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.