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A Clean House Doesn't Prove Anything

June 12, 1986|BONNIE McCULLOUGH | McCullough, based in Colorado, is the author of five books on home management.

How can you show organization? It is a state of being. You can see order, but a clean house doesn't prove anything. Sometimes there are things more important than housework.

Organization involves setting priorities. If you can't do everything, it means thoughtfully selecting what will be left undone.

You don't need to be rich or have a large house. To be organized is not to be sterile or rigid; it means to give order so people can operate and function.

Much of organization has to do with work habits. To be organized is to put things away as you are working so that cleanup is easier. To be organized is to empty the dishwasher as soon as possible after the dishes are clean so you will have a place to put the new dirty dishes. Organizers prevent work.

True Sign of Organization

Organized people don't procrastinate. They don't put off tasks until later if they can be done today. To be organized is to set aside a little time every week to take care of paperwork . . . to write bills, send thank-yous, etc. You are really organized if you can throw out or file the last issue of a magazine when the new one comes in.

To be organized is not to have more than one load of clothes on top of the dryer. To be organized is to fold or hang the shirts and blouses as they are finished in the dryer. It does not mean that all the clothes need to be washed and put away every day. There is more efficiency in grouping similar jobs. These work habits show that a person has self-discipline.

You are organized:

--If you only go to the grocery store once a week.

--If you know what you will serve for dinner.

--If you pull up the bed covers when you get out of bed in the morning.

--If you can find a postage stamp in less than 60 seconds.

--If you set goals and work toward accomplishing the goals.

--If you deep clean even though you don't like to clean.

More Than a Clean House

You are doing great if you have all the dishes done once a day. Your desk doesn't have to be clean . . . after all, it is a work area. However, if you have too many piles waiting, you won't have a place to work on an immediate project.

To be organized is more than a clean house. At the same time, it is much easier to live in a house of order than a house of clutter. You want to be organized enough to get things without great delay. You don't want to be continually tangled.

To be organized is not synonymous with meticulous. To be organized means you do things for a good reason at the best time and in the easiest way. Do what's best for you and your family. Organization doesn't mean that you never get behind, rather that you can stick to it until you have recovered.

My cupboards and closets are not show pieces. Mine is a very functional home. Similar things are grouped together. Shelves and dividers help to define territory.

For example, if you were to open my hall linen closet you would see vertical dividers to hold typing and lined paper for school and a box for smaller supplies like new pencils, tape, glue and erasers. There is a box, with an open top, to hold light bulbs, another for pillow cases and one for gift wrap. Extra towels are standing on end like books in a case. There are several boxes to hold scrapbook paraphernalia until we are ready to place them in books. I would call that closet organized, but it certainly wouldn't make a good picture. A good organizer makes it easy for other people to understand and use the system.

It's an Uphill Battle

My file cabinets categorize hundreds of folders by subject and are cross-referenced with indexes. But I share my office (formerly a 9x10-foot bedroom) with my husband. The children often use my computer for homework. This room is so crowded with two desks and chairs, four file cabinets, a typewriter table and computers, who would believe it is organized? But then, how could we have that much stuff in one room and get any work done if they weren't?

Setting up organizational systems in a home for paper, people, food, money and things is like laying down a sprinkling system for the yard. Initially, it takes time and money to install the sprinkling system, but after it is down, all you have to do is turn a dial. The same applies to the programs you can develop at home. The manager designs them and then teaches the family to use them. Get control of the things you have to do so there is more time for the things you want to do.

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