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Messy to Neat

It's a miracle! I've gone from a messy housekeeper to a neat person in a flash. And the transformation is so new that I can share with you how I learned to make and keep horizontal surfaces clear and stay on top of what paperwork I have to do.
I used to ask my neat friend, Arline, how she managed to be neat and why. She said there are two kinds of people, those that are always putting things away and those that are always looking for things.
When I arrived she might be sewing, with fabric and patterns strewn about. Somehow, at the same time that she greeted me, the entire project vanished, like slight of hand. She's neat because straightening up is worth the work to her.
Not to me. I'm used to dropping clothes and letting mail pile up on the kitchen table, where it mates between layers of newspaper. Once a month I'd walk around the house like an idiot putting a month's worth of items back in the right room. Add to this boring way to pass a Saturday that all of my file drawers were stuffed full, making it discouraging to even bring pieces of paper into the office to file.
But where should I start to improve the situation? I could begin in the garage where I've saved every document relating to my business since its inception in 1977. I could replace the mildewed cartons with a new generation of papers from the file cabinets presently in the house-- leave new documents in the garage to deteriorate. That seemed discouraging, time consuming, and would still leave me without a table on which to eat. Or should I start excavating the mountain of mating papers precariously situated on the kitchen table? Then I could eat like a human being.
Here's what helped me. Recently I stayed in a friend's spacious two-story home while she was out of state. All I had with me for a week was my suitcase, my laptop computer, and my car. I experienced no clutter. I discovered what a pleasure no clutter is. Thus began my transformation from messy to neat. Surely many people are like I've always been. The world will be a better place when messy people discover where to begin and how to keep up neatness five minutes at a time.
So when I had only my suitcase and my car and the food I bought, I could keep my belongings arranged effortlessly with a few minutes work on occasion. And my head felt peaceful, looking around at harmonious surroundings and horizontal surfaces that aren't hysterically packed with piles of papers and earrings and whatever I've dropped off.
I don't mean to say I've been born again or that you'll never find a mess in my house again. I'm the same messy person. But now when I take off my coat, I consider, with the coat in my outstretched arm, whether I want to drop the coat over a chair in the kitchen or truck into my bedroom and hang the coat where it belongs.
Things tend to get messier. Now I devote time to overcoming entropy before I'm faced with a lost cause where I used to find my kitchen table. It would take me an hour a day to be thoroughly neat. I don't take an hour for neatness. But even devoting an hour a week to overcoming entropy will go a long way toward my making and keeping my home pleasantly livable. It's self respecting to come and go from a home that's not a pigsty. Chip in a little at a time to make order. And throw away and much as you dare. Good luck.