Friday, September 10, 2010

Filing my way to wisdom

The last paper was filed yesterday evening.  The last coupon cut and filed in its' proper place (a former greeting card folder) this morning. 

For five seconds I am caught up but as you know... filing and organizing is like laundry.  When one folds the final t-shirt to put away in the drawer, clothing has already been tossed in the hamper.  But for five seconds... it is a thing of beauty.

Some wonder why I take the time and effort to have a filing system.  It all started with Anne Ortlund back in the 1970s.  Yes... I am that old mature.

Anne was one of the authors instrumental in forming my thinking and doing as a young woman... and a fairly new Christian.  Especially her book Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman.  In it, she explains how having a good filing system set up to place articles we've read, notes we have taken, Bible studies, etc. will benefit us in gaining wisdom and knowledge.

Anne also taught about the "notebook" concept in this book, long before many of us were carrying Day-Timers or any other notebook organizer.  I started using her notebook suggestions while working in a corporation and I look back on that one habit (other than lots of prayer) in my success in organization development... especially the year I went from being an assistant to becoming the temporary department head!

For many years, especially when life was moving at the speed of light and I had young children to watch over, my favorite reading was to take out one of my file folders and read through articles for information and encouragement.  After all, everything there was of great interest and better than a book written just for me.

Some of my file titles will help to explain...
  • Decorating clippings
  • Decorating articles
  • Christmas clippings
  • Christmas articles
  • Christmas crafts
  • Living the simple life - stories
  • Living the simple life - how to
  • Tea Time - recipes and pictures
  • Tea Time - articles
  • Gardening - Outside
  • Gardening - Inside
  • Gardening - People who garden
  • Crafts - Children
  • Crafts - Quilting
  • Crafts - Patterns (from magazines)
  • Education - Homeschooling Stories
  • Education - Curriculum Ideas
  • Education - Early Childhood
  • Homemaking - Ideas
  • Homemaking - Stories and articles
  • Homemaking - Laine's Letters
  • Housekeeping - Ideas
  • Recipes - To try someday
  • Recipes - To try soon
  • Recipes - Gift ideas
  • Bible Studies - (various files)

These are just some of the files I've accumulated through the years but I think it gives you an idea why I say one can "file their way to wisdom".  For most of the years I've kept files, they came from various magazine and newspaper articles.  Eventually, they also included computer printouts.

I still have articles and clippings from the 1970s (through today) but not too long ago, I made it a major project to skim each file folder to toss those I no longer needed or wanted.  It was one of those "deep in winter" projects when there were no outside chores needing my attention.  It would have been much easier to take one subject a week but I think I was in a mood to downsize at the time.

Another author who writes about gaining wisdom through filing is Elizabeth George.  She received a recommendation from an older godly woman to create what she calls Five Fat Files in the five areas she wanted to gain expertise.  In her book, A Woman After God's Own Heart, she says her books came about as a result of putting together and studying these files.

I love Elizabeth's books and I gain so much wisdom from her but this is one area I didn't entirely agree... at least for my own life.  She says our Five Fat Files should be about spiritual subjects while my files (more than five) are about all aspects of life... but I understand where she was coming from as she was saying we should choose five areas to become proficient in and develop expertise.  As a Bible teacher, hers are all spiritual.

My organization of papers and such also includes having a place (the antique chamber cabinet) which holds my materials for writing letters, greeting cards, and other correspondence needs.  I've also written about having a quiet time basket which holds my Bible, my current devotional (always holding My Utmost for His Highest and The Valley of Vision), as well as any nonfiction book I'm reading at the time for spiritual wisdom.

Becoming more organized began as a young woman who was combining working outside the home with being a wife and mom and Bible teacher at church, later as a full time homeschooler, and now as one who has limited energy and finances.  For whatever reason, gaining knowledge and wisdom is a lifetime activity and being able to go to a file (or many files in some cases) about a subject is worth every moment of setting it up in the first place.


Annie said...

Hi Brenda:

I read your blog every day. My heart jumped when I saw Anne Ortlund in your post.

I too, have admired Anne for many years. God did a mighty work in my life through her which I discussed in my own blog here:

She is everything in person that she is in her books and then some.
What a mighty woman of God!

I also have Type 1DM and CFS, so your blog really resonates with me.

Be richly blessed,

Annie @ The View from 256

Vee said...

Am I allowed to be jealous? Just for five seconds? Great job and thank you for including your "mentors" thoughts on the matter. Five fat files on five spiritual topics...hmmm, that'd be an interesting exercise. I do have a household journal that I depend upon.

allisamazing said...

Two of my most favorite authors. I have learned so much from both of them. I am currently reading through "Beautiful in God's Eyes" by Elizabeth George. Thanks for sharing.

John'aLee said...

Great post. I've never heard of this author but I have much the same 'subject' files you do. Great minds think alike eh? Love your blog!