Getting organized is one of the most popular goals for the new year. I’ve met many wannabe organized homeschoolers at conferences. Yet I suspect that no matter how great my intentions, many of the homeschoolers who have heard me speak or own my book, The Organized Homeschool Life, still aren’t organized. I’d like to discuss six reasons I think that’s the case.
#1 You decided to get organized
The first reason you’re still not organized is you’ve decided to get organized. What? You might think it’s true what they say about psychologists — that we’re all a bit crazy. But I mean it. Sometimes deciding to get organized destroys your motivation. Psychological research has demonstrated that the anxiety we feel about goals like getting organized dissipates as soon as we decide to do something about it. So, buying an organizing book, joining an organizing Facebook group, or even setting a goal of getting organized can make you feel like the battle is half won. You can relax because you’ve already started getting organized.
I’m not suggesting that you don’t decide to get organized. I’m saying that you can’t stop there. You’ll understand what I mean as I share more reasons you’re still not organized.
#2 You haven’t made organization a habit
We think organizing is an event — that weekend in August when we may or may not get our school room set up, the day when our husband has all the kids out of the house and we’re going to set up our shiny new record keeping system, the spring day dedicated to cleaning out the garage. There are so many problems with an event approach to organization. First, we’re always running behind. If you’ve waited until August to set up your school space and that’s when you’re starting school, you feel behind. You feel like a failure. You’re understandably stressed.
If we count on the golden time when all the kids are out of the house, you just know something is going to happen to prevent that from happening. Your husband will have another commitment, one of the kids will be sick, or something urgent will come up. Even if your day goes as planned, you’ll discover that there is more to do in your space than you thought or you’ll be frustrated that you can’t do more. When my husband has had the kids out of the house for a period of time, it always, always seems too short.
Organization is not an event, but a habit. If you read my article on mini habits, you know that habits are best established with daily practice. It’s what you do every day that determines how organized you are. If you’re still pinning your hopes on an organizing event, you’re going to remain disorganized.
#3 You’re taking on too much
Those of you who are event organizers are also taking on too much. You want to organize your whole school space, including lesson plans in a weekend, a day, or an hour. But even those of you who are trying to organize on a daily basis are also likely taking on too much. Our eyes are almost always bigger than our schedules. We can’t accomplish what we imagine we can in our fantasy world. So here’s what happens. We don’t do what we planned and we feel like failures. We give up. The organizing book goes back on the shelf or more likely in a messy pile. Another thing that didn’t work. We imagine that we are a hopeless case. Strategies that work for other people won’t work for us. I have been there. The truth is we are taking on too much and no normal homeschool mom can accomplish what we dreamed we could.
#4 You lose track of your why
About the time you give up because it’s all too much, you’ve also forgotten why it was so important to get organized in the first place. Maybe you’re fine just the way you are! You’re certainly better than that disastrous homeschool mom you know. You’re not that bad, so maybe you should just relax. If you kept feeling good about your homeschool life after giving up the quest for organization, I would tell you that was a good decision. There are a number of you who are organized enough to do all that God has called you to do. Hyper-focus on organization isn’t good for you.
But the rest of you? You know you’ll be right back in that place of rushing, being crabby at the kids, embarrassed by your home or your lateness, and wishing things were different. You need to reconnect with your why. Why DO you want to get organized? Think about your worst recent organizational day — the day where you got up late, forgot something important, had nothing planned for dinner, got next to no school finished, didn’t do chores, and wasted too much time online, and stayed up late trying to finish something you should have done a long time ago. Really picture it in your mind. How do you feel? Do you want to continue to feel this way in the future? How does your lack of organization affect your spouse? Your kids? Your finances? Your friends? Your witness? Be honest. Now imagine that you are as organized as you need to be to accomplish all God has planned for you. How does that feel? How does that affect your spouse? Your kids? Your finances? Your friends? Your witness? Now you should have your why. You need to hold onto it in order to finally get organized.
#5 You aren’t considering your time
I have shared why the most important area of your homeschool life to organize is your time. Unfortunately, we tend to focus our organizing efforts on our physical space. We want our books, art supplies, and science materials to look good. We want beautiful bookshelves, smart-looking bins, and creative spaces. I do think that an attractive, organized space is important. But organizing and planning time to maintain an organized space is even more important.
The primary way we fail to properly organize time is not anticipating the obstacles that may get in our way each day. The obstacles include our own temptations and struggles, like the hard time we have not answering the phone or responding to text messages. We ignore the likelihood that our child will be crabby, resistant, or slow to learn. We forget about the possibility of surprises — the guest who drops by, the furnace that konks out, the neighbor’s emergency. We can’t exactly plan for these, but neither should we expect the ideal. What we can do is ask ourselves what may get in the way of our week. And we can plan plenty of margin to accommodate the unexpected.
#6 You don’t have help
About the time we decide that we’re going to get organized, we also decide that WE are going to get organized. On top of everything else we are doing, we imagine that through our own strength, or force of will, we’re going to tackle the organizing problem. Take it from someone whose god has been her own strength for many, many years. That endeavor is destined to fail for a believer. God is not going to let you succeed in your own strength. Not only will you move further from Him and become convinced you can make it on your own, but your pride will grow. You’ll be telling everyone how you did it — how YOU did it with your organizing genius or your superior willpower or this program you found with your keen research skills. Why would God let us do this? He won’t. If you hear nothing else in this episode, I hope you’ll hear this: you can’t get organized if organizing is a struggle without God. You shouldn’t even try. I wrote about homeschooling without striving and I highly recommend that article to you.
The other way we try to get organized without help is creating our own approach. I believe in tailoring every approach or system to your personal needs, but reinventing the wheel isn’t a wise use of our time. Organizing books used to be written by born-organized people. They weren’t very useful for born-messy people like you and me. It isn’t that we’ve never heard of everything in its place. It’s that we need that broken down for us. Fortunately, there are people like FLYLady who have made organizing simple. We can adopt others’ grace-based approaches that recognize our natural tendencies — like if we have the opportunity to avoid putting something away, we’ll take it if we haven’t created habits for that.
Finally, we don’t get help getting organized by going through the process alone. It’s embarrassing to be disorganized. You feel foolish and weak. It feels so good to imagine getting your act together on your own and then pretending as though you’ve always been the same as your born-organized friends. I’ve had born-organized people who haven’t known me long tell me that I’m just like them. I laugh out loud. I’m not. Born-organized people have struggles that aren’t necessarily as visible as messies’ are. As I’ve shared the truth about me with other messies, I find myself loving them to pieces. There’s something so moving about being able to be real with people and their honesty in return. It isn’t that I don’t think it’s possible to get organized alone. God can get our lives in order, now matter how isolated we are. It’s that it’s not nearly as fun.
The tool that can help you finally organize your homeschool
There are people who have bought my book, The Organized Homeschool Life, who still aren’t organized. I can’t make people read the book or do the missions, even though some women wish I could. But I realized I could do something that would address these reasons some still aren’t organized. I’ve created a tool that will take my own organization to the next level. I used everything I’ve learned in years of experimenting with my productivity. I created a complete toolkit for Christian homeschool moms who want to organize their homeschool lives. It’s the Organized Homeschool Life Planner.
It allows homeschool moms to not just decide to get organized, but to take action daily. It allows them to create and track habits as well as each step of the challenges included in The Organized Homeschool Life. The planner encourages moms to choose one focus for the day by naming their day. Huge task lists are reduced to three priorities for the day and just a few others. You can finally finish your list and feel in control. The Organized Homeschool Life planner also has moms schedule their time — something that has been demonstrated to produce results. The weekly planning page prompts moms to write their why and anticipate obstacles to their goals. Finally, the planner prompts homeschooling moms to focus on where their help comes from. The daily page begins with a gratitude list, a place for a Scripture that spoke to you in your quiet time, and your response to God. I like to give any worries I have to God in this space. You could write a short prayer as well. Each month, there is also a devotion that will help focus your organizing efforts on what really matters. To encourage you to connect with other homeschool moms becoming organized, I’ve created The Organized Homeschool Life Facebook group.
The planner I’ve created addresses the major reasons homeschool moms struggle to get organized. It comes in two formats for your preference — a full-year, undated, digital planner or a two-book, undated, printed, spiral-bound planner set. The digital version has daily, weekly, and monthly pages that can be edited on your computer and kept there or printed out. It’s the most economical by far because you can use it year after year. If you’d like to print some or all of the 8.5×11 pages, you can.
The print version comes in a January to June version and a July to December version. Print orders will be shipped free in the US and when ordered direct, include stickers designed exclusively for The Organized Homeschool Life planner. At the time of this podcast, for a very limited time, take advantage of discounted launch pricing that also includes discounts on the book, The Organized Homeschool Life. To learn more and finally get your homeschool life organized, grab your copy today!