Are you tired of seeing that messy room but you never get around to cleaning it? Do you feel overwhelmed just by the thought of organizing your closet or kitchen, and you don’t even know where to start? Then you’ve found the right book. Calming Your Chaos is written by someone who has not only been there, but she’s been there so many times that she’s developed multiple simple and practical strategies for getting organized, clearing out your clutter, and taking back control of your space and life.
Elisa Hawkinson learned her organizational skills after moving more than twenty times. Besides having to train a husband and two sons to stay organized, she has had to pack and move continually for her husband’s job. She also knows about downsizing when the children grow up and leave home. She knows about downsizing further when your spouse passes away. She knows about staying organized in someone else’s space when you remarry, and she understands the dynamics in families that result in one spouse’s clutter becoming frustrating to the other, who may perhaps see her husband’s mess of tools, but not her own overflowing closet.
Elisa has been so successful at helping people get organized that she has become a professional organizer with her own business. She has been hired by wives to help them clean their homes, only to impress the husbands so much that they’ve allowed her to tackle their garages. In one case, Elisa even saved a marriage after a wife filed divorce papers, threatening to leave if her husband didn’t get rid of his junk. Fortunately, Elisa not only was able to help him clean out his garage, but she also helped to talk him through why he was hanging onto his stuff so he could learn to let it go.
But where do you begin to clean up your clutter? Each chapter of Calming Your Chaos offers practical tips and suggestions for every space you may want to tackle. Elisa provides a monthly calendar with lists of things to clean or organize each month, depending on what is most practical, such as taking out or putting away things you will need for specific seasons or holidays. Nor is the book all about cleaning. It’s also about being practical and organized in all areas of your life, including what you buy, which ultimately could add to your clutter. I especially loved Elisa’s advice to “Pray before you shop.”
The chapters are very specific, focusing on different rooms in the house. In many cases, Elisa provides photos to provide visual references for how things can look when you use file folders, special shelving units, or other organizational tools. Everything from the kitchen and bathroom to the garage and basement are covered in these chapters.
Personally, I think the chapter on moving is the most helpful. Elisa shares her numbering system for boxes so you know what you’ve packed in each box and you can categorize it so what you most need can be found and opened first when you arrive at your new location.
But perhaps most importantly, Elisa asks us to look at why we have clutter in our lives. After all, the book’s title, Calming Your Chaos, reflects the lack of peace we may feel and which is often reflected in our clutter. Elisa bravely tells us about the issues from her childhood that she had to deal with to get her life better organized. She also discusses how grief can be overwhelming and how to cope with life after the loss of a spouse or loved one. One of the best suggestions she gives relates to the sentimental attachments we have to our belongings. She asks us to think of giving away our belongings not as parting with our memories but as blessing someone else with the items. She even suggests hosting a party to share the stories associated with items we want to give away so they become meaningful to their new recipients.
Anyone who wants a more organized life, whether in regards to a home, office, or schedule, will find Calming Your Chaos to be filled with realistic and doable suggestions. While I still have some of my own chaos to calm, after reading this book, I felt less guilt about getting rid of things I didn’t really want or need, and I was motivated to clean out the bathroom medicine cabinet and straighten up my messy office. We can all use a little less chaos in our lives, and having Elisa help us is a great place to start.