Does your new year need more organization? What about simplified organization? Now, notice I didn’t capitalize it – I don’t even necessarily mean my course.

I’d like to explain what I mean when I say simplified organization, because I’ve received some comments and emails that make it clear there are many opinions about organization – and what “counts” as organization – out there.

When I poke fun at labeled containers in closets, it’s not because it’s wrong or bad to have matching containers with labels on every shelf of every closet. But what is wrong is to think that doing that will somehow solve the problem you have when you say you’re disorganized.

Being disorganized or organized is not a personality trait that you either have or don’t have. It’s not in genes and it’s only partly taught or caught by parental nurture.

It is only when we cut through the superficial answers and the impressive-looking solutions that we can understand what we want when we say we want organization.

And that answer is simpler yet harder than any magazine product or picture or plan.

Simplified organization is organization that addresses the true disorder – not (only) the surface-level disorder of our counters or closets or cupboards, but the disorder in our minds and our hearts.

When we clean and contain our clutter in hopes that it will change our character, we’re bound not only to be disappointed, but we’re also bound to return to our messy ways. That clutter will return. The disorder will continue.

Entropy is real, so any one-time project to control the clutter and contain the mess is never actually permanent or one-time if it’s the state we want.

How many of us want to give up once we realize that? So many. After all, we hope organization is a magical state where, once achieved, life is easy and things stay put.

The problem is that we’ve allowed the media, magazines, and marketers define organization for us. They tell us that organization means having your act together. It means a place for everything and everything in its place – all the time. And all you need is this container, that label, or this article’s solution to attain the blessed state.

The actual definition of the verb “to organize,” however, shows a broader understanding:

  • to arrange into a structured whole; order
  • to make arrangements or preparations for; coordinate
simplified organization gets to the root of the issue - no label-maker required

It is under these dictionary, broader-than-Pinterest, not-market-driven definitions that we get such phrases as “organizing principle.” That means not a principle that puts stuff or plans in order, but the principle that everything else must arrange itself around, the guiding principle by whose lights everything else is set in order.

So to be organized is to live in an orderly fashion – not only and not first with your stuff, but first and foremost in your mindset.

Organizing your stuff will not bring you into a state of inner harmony and peace, though that is what is promised us. We believe the marketer’s promise and repeat it to ourselves. If only we could declutter, then we’d be happy.

But we are spiritual beings as well as material, and if we function as if the world and ourselves were only material, merely physical, we will never achieve that inner harmony, the inner order, the happiness that we are looking for.

However, if we do find inner order, it will work itself out into outer order. Once our mindset, our attitude, our approach becomes organized, then we are enabled to work out a physical, material organization that sticks – it sticks because we know its not what matters most, because we know that stick doesn’t mean stays permanent but rather continually worked out and worked on.

An outworking of inner order into the outer world is always ongoing.

This might sound like complicated organization rather than simplified organization, but it isn’t. After all, if we address the actual root issue, which is a character and mindset issue, we begin to have the progress we never saw when we tried for mere stuff-management organization.

It is a stuff-management-only approach that seeks to control other people and the environment that is complicated, because it doesn’t work and isn’t supposed to work. It will always leave us unsatisfied. It becomes a monster demanding more effort from us, even as we look to it to bless us.

When we simplify organization, we cut to the heart first and realize that stuff-management is a way we extend a blessing to others (and ourselves). It is not a thing that bestows blessing itself; it is not pixie dust that makes everything better. It is rather a tool, a way of life that is consistent with our character: once our attitude, our character, our mindset has been ordered in accordance with truth.

We think buying matching containers will solve our problems, but it is only repentance that does that.

If we start with repentance, our guilt problems are solved by Jesus, then we can move forward with rejoicing. Then we can sort stuff into those containers, not looking to them for what they can never give, but rather using them to bless others, to steward our resources effectively, and to be ready for service.

Simplified Organization – yes, now I mean the eCourse – starts with the organizing principles. Putting the stuff in order is dealt with, but only as we first and primarily deal with the character and attitude problems that give us disordered affections, disordered desires to control, and, yes, disordered stuff.

Until there is inner order, outer order will be ineffectual, if it’s even possible.

Click here to learn more about an approach to organization that moves from the inside out.

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