by Emilie Barnes
Harvest House Publishers
Eugene, Oregon

Reviewed by Charlotte Ishkanian, Editor, Mission Quarterly

Anyone familiar with Emilie Barnes’ books on organization will immediately identify this work as hers. Author of more than 15 books on effective living, Barnes condenses her best ideas and packs them into her well-ordered volume, Emilie’s Creative Home Organizer.

Unlike other time-management books and seminars, Mrs. Barnes places heavy emphasis on quality use of time rather than the quantity of time saved. Even though the thrust of the work is time and energy-saving tips, its predominant theme is making more effective use of the time we have. The goal is not to free-up more work time or acquire more things, but to truly enjoy life.

As a time-management person, Barnes’ attitude toward home care seems surprising at first. Home to her is not necessarily house beautiful. Rather, a beautiful home is filled with the spirit of loveliness, a spirit of warmth and caring. . .a place where you can express the uniqueness of your God-given talents and nurture your relationships with the people you love. To accomplish this, Barnes says, you must be organized. Make homemaking an exciting adventure, rather than drudgery and a thankless job. Well, I’m not sure about the exciting adventure, but her tips and sidebars certainly help make homemaking easier and less taxing.

Simplify and unclutter your life, Barnes says. And she gives hundreds of tips to help the reader do just that—not by following her system, but by finding a system that works for each personality. She strongly advocates handling large jobs using the salami method—slicing off one manageable piece at a time, setting realistic goals, and finding ways that are right for one’s energy level and style of doing things. Set goals, not for a perfect house, but for a happier home. And always, she urges the reader, simplify, simplify, simplify.

If you can’t find time to do what you want, make time, she says. Do that by (1) delegating tasks to others, (2) eliminating some work entirely (3) incorporating the help of family members (4) using small amounts of time and (5) planning the use of leisure time.

Barnes covers a broad list of topics, ranging from how to clean and maintain your home to how to enhance one’s inner beauty. Some of her tips are familiar to the connoisseur of her writings, but new and helpful hints also surface.

Emilie’s best-known books are More Hours in My Day and Survival for Busy Women—Harvest House Publishers. Others on her list are 15-Minute Money Manager, 15-minute Organizer, 15-Minute Perpetual Calendar and 15-Minute Meal Planner. At least two 15-minute devotional books top off her list.

Each chapter of Emilie’s Creative Home Organizer centers around one area in a woman’s life—housekeeping, cooking, money management and personal and family health. Common sense ideas are interspersed with gentle reminders that the goal of increased efficiency is not to cram more into the day, but to have time for what really matters in life. This is key in her writing and results in blessing to the reader. As she motivates homemakers to accomplish tasks more efficiently, it becomes easier to get excited about tackling dreaded household jobs, unkempt closets, and lists of unreturned phone calls. As a result one has more time for the Lord, family, and oneself.

What impresses me most about Emilie’s Creative Home Organizer are the basic biblical concepts she uses to strengthen her theses. For instance, in her chapter on finances, she says, We are stewards for God, stewards of our lives and possessions, since both belong to Him. . .Good money management is not bondage; it is freedom from the ?right’ to do what we want, giving us instead the power to do what we should. . .Money management is really more about your attitude toward the use of money than a systematic plan to which you become a servant.

I like that. Barnes gives a biblical reason for being careful with our resources, including our time, our money, and our health. Her implied philosophy is summed up in 1 Corinthians 10:13: Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

If you have read Barnes’ other management books, this is a great compilation of her ideas; if not, it’s a quick read of huge time-saving ideas no person should be without.