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Organize your life

By Christina Quick

Professional organizer Linda Durham readily confesses she didn’t always have it all together.

“At one time in my life, I was a disorganized mess,” she says. “I was always busy and perpetually behind. My family was eating too much fast food. Homework wasn’t getting back to school on time, and my kids’ grades were tanking. My husband and I weren’t spending time together. The house was a wreck.”

Today, the Houston woman helps other people dig their way out of that kind of chaos and reclaim their lives. She approaches her work with the belief that no one is beyond hope.

“Change is always possible,” she says, sounding like a cheerleader for time-crunched professionals and stressed-out soccer moms. “With God’s help, you can take back your life.”

For Durham, change required temporarily stepping away from her paid ministry position and taking inventory of her life, from the poor nutrition habits and strained relationships to the messy closets.

“I had so many things in my basket,” she says. “I decided I would take everything out of that basket and carefully, purposefully decide what would go back in.”

Durham returned to work after six months, but she says it took a full year to restore order to her home and family.

“I reclaimed my home one closet and one drawer at a time,” she says. “Every time I took ground, I made sure I held it.”

Conquering her own organizational challenges led Durham to start a small business, Organizing Matters, in 1999. She also founded Faithful Organizers, the only national network of Christian professional organizers.

Durham waves off the notion that organization means having an alphabetized spice rack and color-coded sock drawer. For Christians, she says, it should be a matter of managing time and resources efficiently and effectively so we can be our best for God.

When Durham rolls up her sleeves to tackle a stranger’s cluttered attic or spare bedroom, she considers it a form of ministry. She believes God wants people to live with purpose and order. However, she knows from personal experience that Christians are often hesitant to admit they’re overwhelmed.

“At one time I thought, I’m a Christian. I should be able to juggle it all and still be a supermom,” she says. “Then it occurred to me that the way I was living was not a sign of faith, but a lack of faith.”

Durham says her breakthrough came when she learned to trust God for provision and direction rather than seeking security in the pursuit and accumulation of possessions.

“Not only did I need to deal with the clutter in my home, I had to learn how to break the emotional and spiritual clutter in my life,” she says.

Durham tells clients that while they can’t control every aspect of their lives, they should take steps toward managing issues that can be addressed. That may mean donating old clothes each time new ones are purchased or using a planner to remember appointments and payment due dates.

Durham says a common mistake people make is using up available resources and trying to extract more besides, whether it’s using credit cards to cover budget shortfalls, stuffing another box into a crowded closet or taking on too many obligations.

“Efficiency means peeling off the wasteful things, the things that are not productive,” Durham says. “If it’s just taking up space, if it’s not an important item, if it’s not working for you, do something about it. The result will be more peace and calm and less drama.”

Durham cautions that once order is restored, it takes discipline to maintain it.

“Organizing success is not getting organized, but staying that way,” Durham says. “Make sure everything in your basket is something that is needed and important.”

And don’t forget to leave room for a few unexpected blessings as well.

CHRISTINA QUICK is staff writer for Today’s Pentecostal Evangel.

TPExtra: Download a printable organization planner and visit Linda Durham's Web site, for more information about home organization.

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