“A place for everything and everything in its place.”
–Isabella Mary Betton, The Book of Household Management, 1861
While Ms. Betton might have applauded modern efforts to find a place for everything, I’m sure even she would be amazed at the size of today’s home organization industry. Last year Americans were expected to spend over eight billion dollars on household products designed to keep “everything in place.” Meanwhile, professional organizers—who build careers helping others corral clutter—number into the thousands.
Clearly we are a nation that values order. But there’s more to the story than the numbers reveal. What is it exactly about order that makes it so appealing?
- Order is Efficient
Order makes the business of daily life easier and more satisfying. We need order to accomplish what we set out to achieve, while too much disorder will hinder us from reaching our goals.
When Office Max conducted a workplace survey to look at attitudes and behaviors around organization, they found clutter was bad for business. Disorder at work or at home disturbed productivity, happiness and confidence as many employees were embarrassed by their untidiness.
Efficiency is important on the home front, too. Sandra Felton explains in Smart Organizing, “A well-organized house and life are the foundation of a life well lived. Life will be easier and more satisfying in the end when you have control of it.”[i]
- Order is a Refuge
In one of my favorite novels, Happy All the Time, Holly Sturgis is a true champion for order. While it would be easy to dismiss her as a neat freak or glorified professional homemaker, best friend Misty knows otherwise. Holly is a fighter, battling “to keep the ugly, chaotic world at bay and to keep a sweet, pretty corner to live in.”[ii]
A tidy home offers a retreat from a messy, confusing world.
- Order is a Blessing
When company is coming, I rally my troops to tidy and sweep with this motto: “We bless our guests by welcoming them to an orderly home.”
Karen Ehman, author of A Life That Says Welcome, agrees such efforts really do make others feel more at home. Many women surveyed about well-ordered hospitality stressed “how hard it is to visit with someone when the room is full of clutter.”[iii]
When we maintain order we look to each other’s interests as well as our own. Order affords us an opportunity to honor each other.
But the final and most important reason for order comes not from any home efficiency manual, but from Scripture.
- Order is God’s Design.
Order was part of God’s plan all along. The Bible opens to the scene of God speaking order into chaos:
When God began creating the heavens and the earth, the earth was a shapeless, chaotic mass, with the Spirit of God brooding over the dark vapors. Then God said, “Let there be light.” And light appeared. Genesis 1:1-3 (Living Bible)
We were created in the image of an orderly God. As we share His likeness, we share his desire to make something better of a disordered world.
[i] Felton, Sandra. Smart Organizing: Simple Strategies for Bringing Order to Your Home. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2005. 17, 19. Print.
[ii] Colwin, Laurie, Happy All the Time (New York: Pocket Books, 1978), p. 209.
[iii] Ehman, Karen. A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others. Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 2006. 64. Print.