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196 pages
Dec 2003
W Publishing Group

Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay That Way

by Marcia Ramsland

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Flash back to twenty years ago: Late one afternoon after another ordinary but frustrating day, I was cooking spaghetti and becoming increasingly annoyed with each stir of the tomato sauce. My preschool daughters, Christy and Lisa, were slowly emptying the dishes out of the dishwasher and cluttering up the counters while my six-month-old son, Mark, hovered around my ankles. I was trying hard to be productive and get things done, but it seemed that everything I had done lately—even preparing a simple meal—was being sabotaged. I felt as if I had no accomplishments to show for the past three hours (or the past three days, for that matter).

Soon I realized that the spaghetti noodles weren’t the only things about to boil over in my crowded kitchen. The pressure inside of me had been mounting all day. As I furiously chopped the onions to make up for lost time, I suddenly exploded, “My life is worth more than this!”

Christy and Lisa stopped and looked up at me, unable to comprehend my outburst. Mark stopped crawling around. I gasped at the words that had erupted from my mouth as I pulled the boiling spaghetti noodles off the stove.

My life is worth more than this? I slowly pondered what I had just said. Did I mean my life was worth more than raising children? Surely not. Did I mean I was above cooking meals, washing dishes, making beds, cleaning up messes, going grocery shopping, and constantly being interrupted?

Well, not exactly, but being on call around the clock was getting old real fast.

“Don’t worry,” I said as I calmed the little ones. “Everything’s going to be okay.” Reassuring the children failed to reassure me, however. That’s when I realized that I was waking up every morning feeling exhausted, and frustration was becoming a regular part of my everyday life.

This was not a life—running myself ragged from morning till night and feeling as if I had accomplished very little by day’s end. Every time I looked around and saw cluttered counters, mail piling up, bills to be paid, letters to be answered, laundry baskets full of clothes to be folded, I felt like screaming, “Why can’t I get anything done?!”

On that memorable evening in my kitchen, I realized that more disarray would indeed be heading my way . . . unless someone in my family could get it together. And judging by the ages of everyone in the kitchen, I realized that it had to be me.

That was the moment I decided to change.

Organize My Life, Please

Over the next several weeks, I earnestly prayed for help to get organized. I read all I could find on the subject, only to find everything was written by logical, left-brained men for the workplace. The typical organizing advice consisted of these marching orders:

  1. Make a list.
  2. Start at the top.
  3. Check things off until you are finished.

That wasn’t the world I was living in. My answer to Mr. Organized and his spotless desk was similar to what most women feel when they are being told what to do: “Even if I could find the list, I wouldn’t fell like doing a list!”

I had tried my hand at making lists, but they just weren’t working for me. Wasn’t there a better way? I wasn’t looking for a new method to organize my closets or tips to organize my spices. I was looking for something more—a way to organize my life.

If necessity is the mother of invention, then I should have some answers fast. I began by scrutinizing my problem areas. These fell under four categories:

  • Time issues and related paper piles
  • Home itself
  • Special projects beyond the routine
  • General daily frustrations

After much research and many dead ends, I ended up creating systems that worked. In my excitement I started teaching organizing principles back in 1985. I also discovered I was part of an emerging group of entrepreneurs called professional organizers—people who create practical solutions for complicated situations. We were discovering a rising need for answers in dealing with busy lifestyles.

The need and demand from the public for answers snowballed from that point on, and I began teaching seminars, appearing on radio and television shows, and sharing tips in national magazines. After working with clients for all those years in professional settings from Rochester, New York, to San Diego, California, I felt led to share my organizing message with those who need the skills just as much: busy women wanting to simplify their complicated lives.

I have written Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay That Way! to support the myriad of challenges in managing a home, a family, a career, and community activities. I believe that when we organize and simplify our lives, we move away from busyness and crisis into order and freedom. It is a satisfying way to live.

Let Me Be Your Chauffeur

Many organizing books are like a map—they tell us what to do and how to get there. But I’ve found that most women want a chauffeur, someone to keep them company as they drive to a new destination.

Allow me to be that chauffeur. I will help you navigate the tricky detours of simplifying life in the midst of your already busy schedule. We will wind our way through client stories, practical systems and tips, and times of personal reflection to get you on your way. And I’ve even included a sample prayer at the end of each chapter since I’ve found that most lasting changes take strength from inside and outside myself.

The book is set up in three sections, covering your time and paperwork, your everyday systems at home, and special seasons of your life. The book progressively picks up speed as it goes along, so be sure to make it all the way through. At the end I promise I will even walk you through tranistion, those rare but difficult times in life when everything you put together seems to fall apart.

My message is about living life well. And if you’ve ever wondered, “Can my life get any better than this?” the answer is a resounding “Yes!” You may just need a fresh vision. Let’s have some fun and simplify life together for good—for your good and the good of those around you.