Controlled Chaos

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Copyright Charles Schulz / Peanuts

Do you remember “Pig-Pen” from the Peanuts cartoon?  This creation of Charles Schulz’s imagination was a magnet for dust.  Pig-Pen briefly appeared clean a few times in the history of the cartoon strip and various animated projects.  That brief interlude of cleanliness was quickly overwhelmed by the cloud of dust that was attracted to him like a magnet.

Surely I am not the only person who sometimes feels like clutter and chaos are drawn to me like a magnet.  Today I’d like to share a few thoughts about controlling the chaos and then solicit a bit of feedback from you but first an update….

Update: Low-Information Diet

Author Tim Ferriss wrote about the “Low Information Diet” in his book The 4-hour Work Week.  Just to be clear, Mr. Ferriss is not a lazy guy.  He has been a New York Times bestseller multiple times, has a new cable television show in production, and is well known as being a guru among minimalists and lifehackers.  Last Monday I started a low information diet to see if cutting out the clutter of news media and constant updates would help me feel more focused.

As a self-professed information junkie I was literally itching to re-install my news apps and the Facebook app on my phone for the first day or two after I started the experiment.  But you know what, by the end of the week I wasn’t missing it too badly.  The world has continued to spin without me being informed about the minutia of what horrible things are happening, the foolishness going on in Washington D.C., and the latest scoop coming out of Hollywood.

I have also been working on streamlining my time on the computer.  A lot of my time is spent doing correspondence or working on various aspects of my work.  The area I have been trying to streamline is my RSS feed and Facebook.  My RSS feed is a stream of all the websites and blogs I have subscribed to.  Since Google Reader has shut down I have been using Feedly to keep up with all these sites.  Feedly allows the sites to be divided into categories that I setup.  I have been refining those categories and skip entire chunks of my reading feed when time is critical.  I can skim through a couple hundred posts in a few minutes, picking only what I really am interested in learning about.

Facebook has become a much happier place.  I respect the political and social opinions of my friends, but that isn’t what I log onto Facebook for.  Last week I mentioned my use of Social Fixer to filter out things I would rather not see.  Adding filters to Facebook via Social Fixer has become a game of sorts over this past week.  Skimming Facebook has become a much quicker process and it is good to see what is happening in the lives of the people I know.

This week I have felt more connected with my family and more at peace.  I don’t think we were designed as people to bear the constant flow of inhumanities that less than 1% of our population commits.  I am curious if the deluge of tragedy hardens our hearts to the suffering of friends, family, and those in our closest circles.

This week I will be filtering out news radio of any kind while in the car.  I had been listening to a bit while I was driving but I want to see what it will be like to go without.  I will also be working on processing some of the clutter in my life, which leads to the next point…

Controlled Chaos

I don’t know how your house runs, but it seems my wife and I live in a world of controlled chaos.  I hope that I am not the only parent of young children that feels this way.  I hear parents of teenagers telling me to enjoy them while they’re young because it only gets worse.  Oh no!

Our blessings for living in a nation of abundance are clearly evident.  Closets wind up filled to overflowing with shoes, clothes, and toys.  Garages, once meant for storing cars, become so filled with possessions that the cars must remain outside.  Houses are so filled with items that we rent storage lockers and pay hundreds of dollars a year to store items that are worth less than the cost of storing them.

Sometimes I feel like “Pig-Pen.”  My wife and I can spend a day dedicated to cleaning the house and by the next day the house has attracted a new layer of stuff and sticky spots on the floor.  This week we have one step that we are going to add to our routine to see if it helps.  Over the last few years we have gotten in the bad habit of leaving our dirty clothes in a pile on our bathroom floor or laying clothes on the end of our bed that need to be hung up.  Our simple step this week is to break this habit.  If it is dirty it goes in the dirty clothes.  If it is clean, hang it up.  This will be good for us and for our girls who are learning our bad habit.

I Need Your Ideas…

This is where your great ideas come in.  You guys are REALLY smart.  I would love to hear some of your tips for meal planning, mail sorting, getting laundry organized and put away, and just about any tip or trick for making your household run smoother.  Share your idea in the comments below.  If your idea fits a need in our household I will probably be giving it a try and writing about it in the coming weeks.

2 thoughts on “Controlled Chaos

  1. I remember well the days of controlled chaos. After Ken called to say he was on his way home from work I would call the kids to come clear a path for Daddy so that he could at least get through the family room to the kitchen. I promised him that I would clean the house when the kids went to college. That did happen but only because we moved.
    When we lived in a one bedroom apartment with two children there was no place to put clean laundry but on our bed, so it got folded and put away rather quickly. That habit continued in our larger house. The kids and I would gather around my bed to fold and put away laundry as soon as it came up from the dryer. So, clean laundry rarely sat around. As for the dirty we were blessed with a laundry chute so at least it was in the basement out of site.

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