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Sustainability bringing balance to your life


Busy to Balance Part 4

“Consume less, share better”.

Herve Kempf

Most of us are well aware of sustainability when it comes to the environment. But have you ever thought about sustainability when it comes to living an organised, clutter-free life and balanced life?

What if I was to tell you that it is possible to set up organising processes and strategies in your home, office and life that are sustainable, help your hip pocket and sanity – all at the same time?

I don’t know about you, but this excites me! Why? Because by having sustainable organising systems that work for us we will,

  • save money because we’re not buying items we either already have or simply don’t need,
  • feel happier because we’ll have systems in place so that everyone can learn and work with, and
  • have more time to do everything we want to do on this crazy busy roundabout of life (aka get more balance!)

Sounds pretty good to me!

So, what do I mean when I’m talking about sustainable organising systems?

Whatever systems you have set up in your home or office need to be streamlined enough that it’s easy for you to use and easy for other people to use if they come into the space. The system also needs to hold its own and run like a well oiled machine whenever you’re not there.

Sustainable organising systems also need to last longer than a bowl of chocolates at a child’s birthday party! They have to stand the test of time, prove that they work, and evolve over time, ever so slightly, to suit you and your situation.

So how do you set up a sustainable organising system, knowing that it will fulfill all of these criteria?

The first thing is to not use a cookie cutter organising solution on the market. You know, the kind that everyone says, “You have to buy this thing, it will save your life, you won’t have to do that awful job again for the rest of your life”.

What you need to do is create your own system. I’ve created hundreds, if not thousands, of systems in people’s homes and not one of them has been the same. Yes, I’ve drawn on my experience as an Organiser, and yes, the approach to setting the system up was the same, but the actual system, what it physically looked like in the client’s home and how it works for them, has been different every single time.

I know you’re probably thinking that it takes a serious amount of time to set up a bespoke sustainable organising system, and to some degree you’re right. But if you do the legwork before you start organising you will have a much better chance of creating a system that works for you and stands the test of time.

Ultimately, it comes down to two things. If you want the system to work as efficiently as possible, with or without you, and you want time to focus on other more important things in your life, you need to set up as many sustainable organising systems in your home as you possibly can.

Take some time to ask yourself:

  • What organising systems are working for you in your home and/or workplace?
  • What areas, if more sustainable systems were created, would help you run your household, worksplace and life more smoothly?
  • Where could you implement new systems to help bring your life back into balance?

Let’s move on now to look in greater detail at the two traits that sit underneath the concept of S = Sustainable. The first is Right Tools for the Job; the second is Helpful Kids.

Right Tools For The Job

“Your words, your thoughts, your imagination; powerful tools.

Remember that and use them wisely”.

Donald L Hicks

Would you describe yourself as a marketer’s dream? Or, more specifically, an organising product junkie?

You’ll know you’re an organising product junkie if you,

  • Receive the latest catalogue from your favourite organising product shop, devour it from front to back, put it on your bedside table to refer back to just in case and flag pages in it so you can purchase those items when you visit the store,
  • Walk past your favourite organising product shop and just have to go in to touch all the colour-coded products, dream about how they would make your life so much easier, drool just a little bit and do the odd impulse buy or two, or
  • Decide to organise something in your home or office and the first thing you do is grab your purse, car keys and rush out the door to buy the perfect product that will solve your problem and make your life so much easier (or so you think).

When it comes to having the right tools for the job I’m not just talking about stationery. I’m talking about any organising product, piece of equipment or multiuse furniture item that helps you create an organised space. These organising products and tools can be used in any part of your home. You may have some in your kitchen pantry, such as a basket storing plastics or a small containers holding sachets; or some in your lounge room, such as an ottoman that opens and stores blankets; or in your kids room, such as toy boxes and book shelves. Take a quick look around – you might be surprised at how many organising tools you’ve already bought and use effectively around your home.

Take some time to ask yourself:

  • Are you a marketers dream when it comes to buying organising products?
  • What was the last organising product you bought? Did it work for you the way you thought it would?
  • Where are your organising/decluttering problem areas? What can you do to streamline them before you head out to buy product?

Helpful Kids

“If you want your children to grow up and move out you

have to teach them to organise themselves”.

Helen Butler


This is the only part of the BUSY to Balanced approach which relates specifically to people who come into contact with children. If you’re a Mum, Dad, Grandparent, Aunt, Uncle, cousin, teacher, caregiver, this section is for you!

Go into any primary school classroom and what do you see? Systems, processes, routines, boundaries, rules, expectations and priorities. In amongst all of this, the teacher manages to teach the curriculum set down for her and has close to thirty children following these systems, routines, and expectations at the same time.

I say this from experience. As a trained Primary School teacher, I was fortunate to develop skills to manage and operate my classroom for ten years, well before my husband and I thought about having children. I’ve known for years that I use many of the skills I learnt as a teacher in my home and business, but only recently a client told me how lucky I was to have that training. In her eyes, the skills and knowledge I had learnt as a teacher were transferrable and, more importantly, valuable when it came to bringing up helpful children.

What I do know for sure is that children love routine. I know this in itself doesn’t seem that exciting, particularly if you’re a creative caregiver or prefer to go with the flow, but a little routine around the things that affect the children around you will help them feel in control and less worried about what to do or what comes next. So, my advice is to create routines around your child’s,

  • Schedule
  • Homework
  • Responsibilities around the home

I can’t give you a teaching degree and all of the experience I learnt over ten years as a teacher in one article, but I can help you see that as a parent it is our task to bring up adults (Dr Phil shared that piece of wisdom years ago and I feel he’s right!).

Teaching your children organising and decluttering strategies helps them see that you and your family are a team. That by working together you can achieve so much more than just one person. And, most importantly, that life doesn’t have to be a crazy whirlwind of busy – there is time for fun!

I firmly believe that if you want your children to grow up and move out, you have to teach them to organise themselves. And who is going to teach them if it’s not you? Of course, if you’re OK with them living with you forever than that’s OK too!

Take some time to ask yourself:

  • Where do you need to teach your children about living an organised and clutter-free life?
  • How would teaching them these skills make a difference in your life?
  • Where would there be more balance in your life if the children around you helped with daily tasks?

It might feel strange that by focusing on creating sustainable systems, and focusing specifically on the organising tools you use and teaching the children around you to be more organised, that balance will miraculously appear your life. I’m not promising that it will, but I do know that if you work on these areas you’ll notice a huge difference in your life.

In my next article in this series I’ll be sharing the next part of the BUSY to Balanced approach – U = Uncluttered – and the two traits that sit underneath it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this approach so far. Please share them in the comments below.

To read Helen’s previous articles click on the links below








Helen Joy Butler

Helen Joy Butler is an Intuitive Professional Organiser, Elemental Space Clearer® and author of “Paperwork Is Not Your Problem: A Busy Mum’s Guide To Moving From BUSY to Balanced”. Helen is also the creator of the Your Home, Your Heart, Your Sanctuary approach and Manifesto. You can connect with Helen through her website, facebook or instagram.

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