28 March, 2009

Order is the Shape

"Order is the shape upon which beauty depends" - Pearl S. Buck

"Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work" - Flaubert

"Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; from discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity" - Albert Einstein

"Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day." - Simone de Beauvoir

"The trouble with simple living is that, though it can be joyful, rich, and creative, it isn't simple." - Doris Janzen Longacre

I have things in common with all those quoted here. Like Buck, I am a sinophile, impressed by the work ethic of the villagers. Like Flaubert, I am not easily satisfied with my creations. Like Einstein, I find my religion in the cosmos. Like de Beauvoir, I am a feminist. And like Mrs. Longacre, I find this whole simple living deal anything but simple. In fact, I find it rather draining and grump-making a lot of the time.

You see, it wasn't really an active choice to become a housewife, rather a gradual result of circumstance and happenstance and all their 'stancey brethren. But, there are wonderful things. There is cooking the food we've grown. There is baking the weekly bread. There is improving the value and beauty of our home. There are indeed many good things.

One horrible thing, one thing that drains my Chi and taps my reserves is the utter lack of structure. I'm a fan of structure, order. Expectations lead to motivation which breeds results. This is how I approach even my most creative of endeavors. In my corporate job life had an even pace. Each Thursday, a newsletter was designed. Each Friday, it was distributed. Each month, twenty-some reports were due. Each Monday, weekly web design was done. Though my work was sometimes artistic, often inspired, and regularly entirely concocted out of nothing resembling fact, there was an order to it all.

So, to save myself from the torment de Beauvoir describes, I need some order. I need a routine for the basics of household operation, garden management, and animal husbandry. Without order, this simplified life will begin to look like one very big rock up a very big hill. It's time to organize.

I've read here and there about Household Notebooks, Control Journals, and many other incarnations of the like, but I have no earthly idea which style will help me the most. So, I've started small. I've decided to set up Task Days. Though, I'm still uncertain if I'd rather assign a room per day, or a chore per day...i.e. Bathroom Day vs. Dusting & Mopping Day. It may seem insignificant, but I'm hoping that organizing the tedium will leave more time free for the things I enjoy, like reading, working on my book, going for weekend day trips, and coffee in the city.

What are your tools of the trade? Do you have Post-It Notes everywhere? Are there magnetized To Do lists covering your fridge? Have you carefully constructed a household notebook? Please! Help a girl out and share your organizational successes. Share your failures too. We all enjoy a good bit of shared struggle with our morning coffee or tea, after all. How do you all stay organized?


Running Up That Hill said...

I am a stay at home single Mummy and I study uni via correspondence. I feel like I have no structure most days. So I got myself one of those white boards and stuck it in my office/playroom above my desk. I have atleast one - three task to do around the house on a certain assigned day and the rest is a weekly forcast of all the things I would like to do and I tick them off as I go. I am a big list and sticky note person...however with a 2 year old the sticky notes often go missing hahah

And yes we should def catch up somewhere down the track, my garden has so much work to do, I will post some pictures over the next few weeks!

You won't believe it but I adopted a dog last night, we had to wait a couple of weeks for him to be dropped off from the country, but I got him off Gumtree and I think I saw your puppies on there the other week and OH how I wanted one so cute!, but I decided to go for an older dog, puppy training might be a bit much for me at the moment hahaha

Small world in Adelaide:)

Kelly the City Mouse said...

Whiteboards would be great if I wasn't such a militant decorator. There is one room I could put one, unfortunately, it'd be way out of the way. I'm very digital and have often resorted to spreadsheets and online to-do lists. Lately, I've been posting my weekly goals on Facebook, but it's a case of too many things in too many places. I think I need to unify the system, but I'm not even sure where to begin, with a notebook, etc. Something is definitely needed, because the weeks I work (I'm a freelance writer) are pure insanity!

And yes, I can totally imagine what fun a 2 year old would have with sticky notes! It's bad enough with our dogs. Congrats on your own doggy, btw! Did you get him/her from Morook Animal Shelter by any chance?

Next time you have a break in classwork, we could get together for some tea or something and poke around the garden. What are you studying?

Margo said...

Kelly have you been reading Rhonda again, or are you just living in my head?!!
After yesterday's post with the question from a Julie about the downsides of simple living I wrote a long comment that seemed to disappear in the ether. But I thought about it a lot. I can SO relate to the grump-making aspects of not-simple living. A lot of the time I am depressed / frustrated / bored out of my mind. Oh yes bored OUT OF MY MIND!
Oh I like the eating my own produce and the cooking side of things, but deep down I have the soul of a corporate city girl (who wants to wear empire line dresses and live at Pemberly mind you!!!) and the soul she is quite stubborn about changing :). I really have to work hard at embracing country living and living more 'simply'. I don't miss city living (well not sydney city living) - and don't want to move back, but sometimes I do miss the old life.
Are you a capricorn by any chance?! I can also so relate to the order thing. Because I'm at the computer a lot of the day I often use outlook to add in tasks at certain times, but other times I use the trusty notebook and just write a to too list.
I also kinda freelance so when I'm not working I try to do all the things that there's no time to do when there's a project on. So the notebook with to do lists and 'get done this week' lists like Running seems to work best for me.
If I'm procrastinating about a task I'll put it on a note and put it on the fridge with a magnet so I look at it a lot during the day until I guilt myself into getting on with it LOL.

Kelly the City Mouse said...

Margo: A bit of both? Hehe, nah, I did read that post on Rhonda's and it drives me bonkers that so many people Stepforded out on that one. Of COURSE this is tough! And not always what we want. Hell, nothing is perfect, and I'm finding this further from perfect than I'd like, at times.

I totally relate on the city girl thing. My last home was Washington DC, and before that there was Los Angeles, New York City, Orlando, Dallas, New Orleans, San Francisco, and more! I really need a double life and two houses. A city place in the heart of things, and a farmhouse in Nowheresville to garden and raise things.

Not a Capricorn, but a Sagittarius w/ Virgo rising ;) (And a Virgo mother, to boot!) In fact, when mom read this post (via Facebook) she commented "You are my daughter after all!" Heh.

It sounds like a notebook is definitely in order for my...well...order! And I think my design ethic can handle a smallish whiteboard on the fridge. We had one, but the darn thing didn't erase.

Just knowing that you and Running have organizational crises makes it all a bit better :)

Cottage Smallholder said...

All I want to say is that I admire your wish for order. I have the same wish but live in total chaos. Sometimes this heralds inspirartion often the disorder just makes me want to pack a lunch box and run away :)

Anonymous said...

wow, The last comment was a good way to read. lol. It's real joy when people are so interested in your blog. What do u say?

Kelly the City Mouse said...

Fiona: You're sweet to say it, though wishing for order and creating it are far from twins! Chaos can be just as wonderful, and it certainly seems to suit your particular muse. You never fail to conjure and inspire :)

Jaky: I'm constantly amazed anyone reads my garden ramblings. I just hope I entertain or inform on some level. Thanks for stopping by!

Running Up That Hill said...

That would be great, I now have Fridays and Thursdays during the day off as my little one will be starting day care.

We got our doggy from a lady down that way at moorook though, she had a few conflicting stories about why she was getting rid of him, so I am not sure of the complete story, all I know is that he is lovely hehehe

I am studying a bach of Humanitarian and Community studies, but I am leaning more towards the social work aspect arm:)

where abouts in Adelaide are you? I am in Edwardstown:)

Kelly the City Mouse said...

Well, I picked up some caffeine-free herbal "teas" today (peppermint, and lemon-ginger mmmmm), just in case! So whenever you're free, just let me know and we'll figure something out. I'm in Hackham, so not too far :) We can sit around and maybe map out some inexpensive ways to fill up that empty yard of yours!

So cool about your dog. Yeah, we got Laney from there and wound up with a LOT ore than we bargained for.

Yay for more social workers! Such a hard and needed job. Once my residency is in order, I'll be going back to continue working on my degree in education, hopefully :)