by Erin Engelke

Preparing for Next Time

I am generally a very organized person, …or someone who attempts to be as often as possible. When you are constantly juggling work obligations, community commitments, and kids’ schedules on top of the usual long list of to-do’s at home, organization seems to be the key to keeping it all together!

I have discovered when elements of my life are unorganized or messy, it causes me to feel out of sorts in every other area, including my mental health. Surprisingly, my children and the team I lead at Calm Waters all feel a sense of peace and comfort when there is structure and order to their routines or job duties.

Sometimes it happens

There are undoubtedly times when orderliness slips through the cracks, despite our best efforts. In fact, organization doesn’t come naturally. It’s something we have to work at regularly. Even the law of thermodynamics proves that disorder is inevitable and requires an intervention to reorder the mess.

Several years ago, our family of five took a long but eventful trip to Washington State to visit family. Our children were two, five, and eight years old at the time, meaning the amount of luggage and supplies and activities and necessities were at an all-time high.

So much to remember! The trip had gone mostly without a hitch until we were headed to the airport to make the four-hour flight home. Roughly an hour into our two-hour drive to the airport, we realized we had forgotten our stroller…a piece of equipment that was a MUST with a toddler. We panicked, estimated the time and arranged for someone to meet us half way to deliver it.

Unfortunately, our timing was not perfect, and we ended up missing our flight, costing us close to a $1,000 to rebook on another flight the next day, plus a night’s stay in a hotel.

The different costs

Needless to say, our life at that moment felt very much out of sorts.

There’s no clear explanation as to why the stroller was forgotten, besides the overwhelming amount of other things we had to remember just to get us all home. But that lack of orderliness or organization cost us, and it does in every instance our lives aren’t in order. It could be financial. It could be a relationship. It could be a missed deadline.

Whatever the cost, the most important lesson to be learned is how to do it differently next time and not to dwell in the disappointment. Create new habits that lead to strong organization or delegate to others when the task at hand is too great. Then move on, better prepared for the next time.

For additional information on orderliness, shop the Character First Elementary Education Curriculum at

About the author

Erin Engelke is the Executive Director for Calm Waters, a nonprofit in Oklahoma City that serves children and families who have experienced loss due to death or divorce, providing free support groups and other services. She is a public speaker and trainer for Strata Leadership as well as a writer and blogger for her personal brand, Beauty in the Busyness,

She is frequently tapped to speak on issues relating to branding, non-profit marketing and management, but her deepest passion is empowering other working moms to resist the pull to achieve work-life balance, instead seeking a fulfilled life. Her expertise and real-life perspectives have been heard on stages across Oklahoma, most notably as a TEDx speaker in 2014. A graduate of Oklahoma Christian University, Erin serves on the Board of Trustees for The Christian Chronicle, President-Elect for the Public Relations Society of America, past president of the Association of Women in Communications, and an active member of the Junior League of Oklahoma City. Erin’s greatest pride is her family – her husband, son and two daughters.

Connect with Erin Engelke on LinkedIn.