Getting Organized In the Midst of Chaos

I am living in chaos. That’s right. I am renovating my house. And not just one room – but the whole house, all at once! It feels like camping, which I used to like to do. I am sleeping on an air mattress and since I don’t have any chairs, I squat on top of piled boxes of new flooring to eat my morning cheerios with an unwashed spoon. We are into week 4, and I am still sane – but barely.

Given this, I have spent considerable time in the last month thinking about how to create a manageable ‘Jan’ space amidst the drywall dust and wall-less interior. When renovating, moving or experiencing big environmental changes, creating a ‘safe space’ is vital, even if it is tiny and temporary. So this month, we will explore how to do this – how to bring a tiny bit of order to your life, when chaos tornados about you.

Research has demonstrated that the state of our environment has a big impact on our productivity, and our feelings of wellbeing. Ever wondered why you suddenly must vacuum everything BEFORE you sit down to tackle that deadline? This might not be procrastination. Rather, creating an orderly environment might just be a metaphor for your thinking process. Putting material things in their place is good practice for putting mental things in their place.

Here are a few tips to help you bring order to your world. If you are moving, redecorating, or renovating, a few of these easy strategies might just help you stay sane amidst your chaos.

  1. Think small because size does matter. Don’t try to order the whole space, or you might get overwhelmed. Just focus on the immediate areas which are the most important to you. Draw an imaginary circle around your bed and your desk, for example. Tidy everything within this circle, and exclude the rest. Each time you tidy your area, make the circle a bit bigger.
  2. Got boxes of stuff? Whenever possible, pack stuff in clear containers and bags so that you don’t need to label things. You can just look right into the box without even opening it.
  3. Divide disorganized piles of things into 3 big piles according to their ‘use value’ – things you use everyday, things you use once a week, and everything else. This works especially well for office materials. If you must pile your piles on top of each other, pile the more frequently used things on top of the less frequently used stuff.
  4. Need to get rid of overflow? Try putting stuff that is on its way to the Goodwill into your trunk. You might not have time to drop it off this week, but at least it is out of your way, and on its way out of your life. At times like this, I think of my truck as a giant extra purse!
  5. Got workmen in your house? Feeling invaded? Even the best crew can sometimes drive you crazy. You can ask them to take scheduled break times in a particular area of your house. This will give you a predictable opportunity for 15 minutes of quiet time upstairs.
  6. Driven crazy by constant interruptions about the reno? Schedule a time for others to ask you questions. For example, be available from 8-9, 12-1, and 3-4. Close your door and shut out the chaos during your unavailable times. Even if you are just having a nap behind that closed door, it helps to create boundaries that protect your privacy.
  7. Work from home? Leave whenever you can. Set up shop temporarily at the library, or at a friend’s house.

This is why God made laptops and cell phones.

Leave a Reply