Ordnung muss sein!
This expression perfectly describes a cliché about Germans.
O.k., it’s a cliché, not all Germans fit this, not even in their personal lives. It has a bad connotation too when thinking of German history and current right-wing politics. I don’t want to go into this area but share my thoughts about Ordnung (= order) in personal life.
The issue of Ordnung has accompanied me all my life.
As a child, my parents often quoted the saying
Ordnung, Ordnung liebe sie, sie erspart dir Zeit und Müh
(about “order, order love her, she saves you time and effort”). If nothing was in order in my room, then I was not allowed to play with friends, watch TV or do something I enjoy. I had to set up order first (and once I had to write the above phrase 100 times!). Of course, it was the order my parents had defined, not mine. I think, I had only very vague notions of order and, despite of the few things I owned at the time, I had not always kept order.
Of course, it often got on my nerves when I had to meet my parents’ very strict requirements, but the drill also led me to appreciate the advantages of order.
I have learned very simple principles like:
- Everything has its place
- Put something back where you took it
- Keep your things in order, take care of them
- Possess only what you really need
Ordnung means sorting something out, tidying up, build a structure. A balance between order and chaos in one’s own life, in thoughts, in relationships, in things around us.
So simple but sometimes difficult to cope with when living with others, because everyone has its own ideas of Ordnung. These can be completely contrary to one’s ideas and it requires a mutual willingness of all parties to achieve a common idea about Ordnung.
It’s probably easier for most people to start the big cleaning with the normal every day objects. Go once from room to room and see what’s all there. When did you actually see and use the individual things the last time? Do you really need all the bowls, cups, pots, pillows, candles, cosmetics, etc. or is even half the amount enough?
Do you have too much of everything? Probably yes.
Your consumption behaviour may contribute to this affluence. Also, not returning things to their place after using them (see above).
Do you have some things only because it was a gift? You presumably keep it because you do not want to hurt the donor, but it would be more honest to say what you think about the gift. Doing it, you could avoid being presented with things you do not really need in the future. Possibly this also clarifies your relationship.
Do not forget to look into your storage cabinets.
I have often seen jam-packed cupboards with tins and bags and boxes, but the owners did not remember, let alone what was still useful.
The same is true with tools: one does not need 5 different wrenches of the same size.
Bathrooms often signal very impressively the owner’s relationship to Ordnung. The often splendid selection of shower gels, shampoos and perfumes resembles a drugstore.
I don’t mention the cleaning materials cabinet, you already know what I mean.
It looks quite similar in wardrobes.
The fashion industry seduces us in a nice way to renew our wardrobe each season. But for most of us the budget is limited and we buy cheap as it is supposed to last only one season. But what do you do with it after the season? You probably dump it in your wardrobe.
You could impose a simple rule: Before buying something new, think twice if you really need it and if, a piece from your wardrobe must be sorted out.
Look through your wardrobe once a year and sort out everything you did not wear this year. You do not need that anymore.
Unnecessary to say that your wardrobe is logically sorted: pants to pants, sweaters to sweaters, underwear to underwear, at it’s best sorted by season.
By the way, more storage space does not really help to establish Ordnung. It helps to get things out of sight.
Tidying up your life often starts with the past. Removing old memorabilia, photos, letters, (the sentimental stuff), helps to gain clarity about the past and also reminds you of the relationships that are not yet sorted.
This is undoubtedly the most difficult stage in bringing Ordnung to your life.
Keeping Ordnung helps to have control over your life, not to be dominated by many things, confused thoughts and unsolved problems.
The genius does not really control the chaos, but it can well hide in it.