As many of you know, I spend a considerable amount of time helping others find order in their lives. Sometimes it is cleaning up, sometimes it is cleaning out, and often it is finding the reasons behind the mess in the first place as we both clean out and clean up.

No matter the reasons, the situation, or the circumstances, I have found that anyone who devotes 10-minute periods to each and every "work" day bringing their lives back to order will make tremendous progress. Whether it is getting the front room looking nice enough for company, getting the dishes cleaned and in the cupboard, or getting the laundry folded and put away, an EXTRA 10 minutes each day more than you are doing now may be all that keeps you and me from the order we so desperately desire.

What is funny to me is how long 10 minutes lasts when I am cleaning up and cleaning out. It's no fun, it makes me sweaty, and it is thankless. But with that timer set, my determination not to be detoured by phone, TV, or a knock on the door, I can keep disorder at bay in my life. Out go the used newspapers, folded goes the blanket on the back of the couch, and swept up are the crumbs under our table!

Are you willing to try a new habit with me? Yes, set the timer for 10 minutes today and go to work. Ruthlessly purge, throw away, make stacks of things to go elsewhere, and otherwise grab control again. Work hard, work focused, and work until the timer dings.

Now, I know that mothers working with young children will need at least three 10-minute "ordering" periods every day because kids can make messes faster than we can clean them up, but still we must return to order as often and as quickly as we can.

In the case of a family with small children, it is helpful to have a "clean-up" period before lunch (with their help), again before dinner time (again with their help and the help of school-aged children), and lastly before bedtime (this time with parents and all children helping).

Not only are we modeling "10 minutes a day keeps disorder away," but we are establishing routines and habits that can both make our homes orderly now and offer the possibility that our children will grow up to be organized!

After you have established this "10 minutes a day" habit for yourself for a week or two, begin to engage your family members to help. Work with pre-schoolers if they're at home.

Then do it again before dinnertime with those at home then, and finally do it as a family just before bedtime. Bring your home to a place of order each and every day to sleep better, live better and keep disorder away!

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