Organised or orderly?


“There are few things more pleasing than the contemplation of order and useful arrangement.” – Arthur Phillip

I used to live under the misguided impression I was organised. One day, I woke up and asked myself, if I was so organised, why am I so far behind on almost everything?

Then I had an epiphany. My behaviour and tendencies were not so much about being organised but about being orderly. What is the difference?

orderly[ˈɔːdəlɪ] adj

1. in order, properly arranged, or tidy

2. obeying or appreciating method, system, and arrangement

3. harmonious or peaceful

Source: Collins English Dictionary via The Free Dictionary

Yes, this sounds like me, on so many levels.

organized, organised [ˈɔːgəˌnaɪzd] adj

1. planned and controlled on a large scale and involving many people

2. orderly and efficient a highly organized campaign

Source: Collins English Dictionary via The Free Dictionary

My life would bear witness that the second definition does not reflect how I live at the moment. Both concepts seem similar, and they are related, but they are not the same thing. To me, being orderly is about:

– Making the bed first thing in the morning;

– Stacking the dry dishes away;

– Collecting the mail and recycling the junk immediately;

– Separating the whites from the colours;

– Putting the kid’s toys away, blocks with blocks, play food with play food, pencils with pencils, etc.

I can do all those things. But I tend to do them in a random, haphazard order, each thing being done systematically within itself, but in isolation from the other. Being disorderly and disorganised produces a sense of clutter and that results in tension and angst.

If I ran a tight ship, I’d pull the discrete tasks into a coordinated system that “overall” runs smoothly and efficiently ie: I’d be organised. I would save time, as a result, and probably be a little calmer and in the “flow”.

Some ideas I’ve thought of include:

– De-cluttering to start with;

– Meal planning for the week;

– Having set days for certain tasks e.g. laundry on alternate days.

I realise different things work for different people but I’d love to know, what is your best tip at staying organised?


Linking with Grace at With Some Grace for FlogYoBlogFriday (FYBF).


11 thoughts on “Organised or orderly?

  1. I wish I knew the magic formula! I am trying to do laundry more often as that tends to get too big and then there’s 2 loads, not enough room on the line, I’m angry because it takes ages to hang it out…it’s much more manageable if I do it more often. I find I have time for all that stuff, the thing I am struggling with at the moment is finding time to blog/read & comment on blogs. I need to schedule time each week for that!

    • Somedays when I let myself go, I wish the craziest things like I would snap my fingers and all the mess would be gone. I know it’s crazy and totally unrealistic but it helps just to realise what is the issue for me and consider if I might find better solutions. For example, I stopped ironing most clothes about 4 years ago when my first child was born. That might sound crazy but I really didn’t need to whilst on maternity leave in casual clothes, hubby never wore shirts to work and the kid’s clothes didn’t need it. It saved so much time! But now with a new machine, everything comes out more creased so I think I’m going to have to start again! I know what you mean about reading blogs. I’ve the same problem which is why I cut back so much from a year ago. I’m on and off more but I know that makes it hard to maintain connections. Yet, it’s the best I can do for now. At least some of us are on IG together, eh, Aroha?! I’ve not cut that back. 😀

  2. I like this, because orderly seems to give life a little more room to breathe! It’s a great distinction. What helps me be orderly is taking a certain amount of time out of each day to dedicate to making things “orderly”. There isn’t a list or a schedule, just that dedicated time. When I don’t do it, chaos happens!

    • Thanks for your thoughts on this, Rachel. I wish I had both down pat and ran a water tight ship, but alas, it’s not the case. I think it we do what we can and also what is most comfortable. I know some people need things spotless and tidy and others couldn’t care less.

  3. I have a system that has evolved through experimenting over the past few years, based on my personal priorities, likes and dislikes. e.g.., I’m not one for set meal planning but I have a general idea of what we will eat each week. I usually do one load of washing a day and one cleaning job each day – but only for 10-15 minutes. That is long enough to clean one bathroom or some dusting or sorting out paperwork etc and it means that I’m almost always on top of the housework, seemingly with minimal effort.

    My one problem area is my business admin and filing…I always tend to let that slide and end up spending two hours every few weeks sifting through papers and telling myself that it will be the last time!

    • Thanks for the tips, Kirri. I have tried meal planning of late but nothing fancy. I wish I could be that amazing cook but I’m not and no extra time to learn right now. Sometimes the kids just want vegemite toast anyway! I like your idea of one load and one cleaning job. I tend to get obsessive and once I start I try and do everything at once. I’m not sure I’ve the best system with paperwork but I tend to keep it piled in a certain order before filing away eventually. I’d be better if we had a home office and more filing cabinets or folders. Maybe in my next (dream) home!

  4. You make a good point about being orderly vs. organized. I try to do both, but don’t always succeed. I tend to plan meals a day ahead, but never the whole week (that’s a lot of work!). Of course that may change as my daughter become older or we have more kids. I won’t be able to do last minute as easily anymore!

    • I admire those who can meal plan and make amazing looking, fancy meals to boot. Sadly I can only dream of that. Anyway, my little ones are sometimes happy enough with toast. Sometimes, that’s all I can muster after a crazy day at work too!

  5. Pingback: Shambolism and Escapism « Mixed Gems

  6. Oh, I’ve been meaning to get into menu planning for aaaages! And I started on 30 bags for 30 days for decluttering. I got to one 😦
    But I’m going to keep trying. I’ll get there! Maybe you’re the inspiration I need, V! 🙂 xxx

    • I’m really no expert in any of this. My menu planning the past two nights without hubby around was pancakes with cream cheese and sprinkles and then peanut butter toast with milk both times. I’ve not heard about the 30 bags decluttering project. Now if I had the spare time..

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