We’ve already established that order can mean doing things in sequential or chronological order, but another way to define it is what most people think of when they think of organization - - arranging items within boundaries.
This type of order is often applied to physical stuff which can be corralled by bins, containers, and dividers – oh my! In my house, the perfect example of how arranging items within boundaries creates order is with my husband’s T-shirts. There are so many of them - “good” T-shirts, work shirts, white undershirts, and even long-sleeved T-shirts.
Imagine a guy’s frustration when he can’t find his favorite “good” T-shirt. To make it easy to find the shirt he wants, we first have to separate the “good” T-shirts from the work T-shirts, which for whatever reason (likely my below average housekeeping skills which I’ll write about later) seem never to smell quite as fresh as I’d like no matter how much hot water, tough detergent, or fabric softener sheets with pictures of sweet smelling things on the box that I use. Then, we hang up the "good" ones – yep, T-shirts on hangers – that’s how fancy we are.
Those perpetually smelly work shirts all go together in one drawer so they are contained. When the drawer begins to overflow, he purges them. When he does get rid of some shirts, he can actually find the T-shirt he wants to wear without having to pull all of the shirts out. A jam-packed drawer also results in wrinkles – and really, who likes a wrinkly work shirt?
White undershirts are a staple for my husband so they tend to get dingy fairly often. Since their home is in only half of the middle dresser drawer, before buying new, we have to throw out the old. Lastly, he has long sleeved T-shirts, which are kept up high in a bin on the top shelf in the closet of our bathroom because they are rarely used. Only a few fit in the bin, and his favorites are on top, that way if we get a new one, the obvious choice is to get rid of the one on the bottom.
We can arrange all sorts of things in our homes the same way we organize these T-shirts – define a place and amount of space for items, group like items together in locations that are near where you most frequently use them, and when the pre-determined amount of space fills up – purge so you can keep your stuff contained and can easily find what you’re looking for. I’ll have many ideas for this kind of thing in future posts, but what I want you to think about now is how applying these principles to your mental health and relationships is so very similar and meaningful.
“Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, it’s just how you use them.”
My Grandpa Pete, the wisest man I’ve ever known, often said, “Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, it’s just how you use them.” Time is a natural boundary, but we often try to force too much in that finite space. We should purge our metaphorical T-shirts to keep from wrinkling the ones we actually want to wear and make it easy to access the really important ones.
Setting up boundaries to protect our relationships is perhaps one of the most difficult things I’ve encountered in recent years. In their book, Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No - To Take Control of Your Life, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend wisely said, “In addition to showing us what we are responsible for, boundaries help us to define what is not on our property and what we are not responsible for. We are not, for example, responsible for other people.”
I felt that by placing a boundary, I was making one area or person suffer by giving another priority. This may be a little bit true, but the trick is being ok with that and realizing that there are relationships that take precedence over other areas of our lives and that I’m not responsible for others’ reactions to the boundaries I set. You only have so much storage space, so you must purge your life of what’s stained and smelly to allow room for the things you love the most.
Cloud, Henry and John Townsend. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No - To Take Control of Your Life. Michigan: Zondervan, 1992. Print.
A woman with many roles in life who knows the necessity of keeping things in order!