Lessons from the Boutique, Part 3: Have a System

Been there, done that.

Been there, done that.

Once upon a time, this country girl – who can still milk a goat – helped her husband co-found and manage a set of Designer Consignment Boutiques.  By designer, I mean our boutiques carried $10,000 fur coats and gowns with the price tags still on them, $3000 handbags, $700 shoes, and other beautiful, exotic, and limited edition things, which we sold on consignment.  I learned many lessons from managing the boutiques for 14 years, ten of which we owned them.  In the first lesson, I talked about managing your time and worry with the philosophy of ‘first things first and second things not at all’.  In the second lesson, I talked about having an opening and closing to your day to help you prepare for all the little providences God brings your way.  In this lesson, I’m going to talk about systems.


One of our boutique philosophies was Always Organizing.  We had a system for literally everything.  We did everything the same way, every time.  That way no matter who did it, it was always done neatly, efficiently, and was traceable.  We never let anyone do things their own way.  That would have cause chaos.

But, the systems weren’t set in stone.  We constantly looked for ways to improve.  If an employee or even customer had an idea, my husband and I evaluated it in the grand scheme of the boutiques.  If it looked good, we gave it a test run.  We encouraged everyone to improve the running of the store.  Smooth running gave us more time for our customers and happier employees.

Always Organizing.

This concept applies easily in the management of your home.  You need to have systems.  If you want to keep your home clean, presentable, and open while having time to run to the library with your nephew, take a walk with your sister, and hurry to help a church member, systems are required.  The things you do everyday like dishes, laundry, tidyings, showering, budgets, making the bed, getting dressed, etc., all need a system.  Sounds dull and boring, right?  Who wants to do the same thing every day, all the time…groan.  True, but it’s worth it.  The dull, rut, duty type things have to be done.  They won’t go away.  They won’t complete themselves.  But you don’t want to spend your whole life scrubbing pots and pans, right?

Have a system.

The opening and closing I spoke of last lesson is an excellent example of a system.  Systems can be huge: cleaning the house from stem to stern.  Or small: making the bed.

Always Organizing.

Systems always need evaluation.  Always examine your systems for waste: wasted time, wasted motion, and wasted effort. Always organizing starts with your mind and your systems, not with the order of your canned goods.  Study the way you clean, do laundry, use social media, garden, read, cook, plan out your week, and serve others.  You may think you don’t have a system but you do.  You have a way you do things, but is it the most effective way?

Embrace the freedom to change the system if it’s not working for you.  Believe me, this first year home – yes!  A whole year home! – has been a lot of trial and error.  My most recent change came when I realized I spent a lot of time being grossed out by my own bathroom cause I shed a lot.  By the end of the week, it was just soooo nasty.  Instead of living in my own filth, I started spending all of 30 seconds sweeping the bathroom floor each morning.  Now the bathroom feels cleaner and I’m not embarrassed every time someone comes over and needs to use our bathroom.  I took a system I already had in place and modified it to work better.

My mom and my husband are both very systematic and organized.  I try to apply the things I learn from them in my own home management.  I’m not so much that way.  I tend to be a little more head in the clouds.  But, I have benefited from their examples and their lessons.  I have more time to live in the clouds when my feet have a system for walking the earth.  Don’t kid yourself the earth must be walked.

from Google, by allison712

from Google, by allison712

If you have kids, caretaker responsibilities, or just a busy life and busy husband, you need systems.  If you’re a single women you need systems.  If you’re a college student or high schooler, you need systems.  Systems help us deal with the daily grind and free us up to do the things we love.

Are you good at systematizing your duties?  What are your biggest system struggles?  Not your forte?  Do you get help?  Let’s share our ideas in the comments below!


Lesson 1: First Things First

Lesson 2: Opening and Closing

Lesson 4: Dealing with People

Lesson 5: Red Heels

Lesson 6: Fashion from Boutique to Housewife

17 thoughts on “Lessons from the Boutique, Part 3: Have a System

  1. Abby, I’m going to start again to find a system that will work better for a widow living alone. I’ve always been a head-in-the-clouds type person. Guess that’s why I feel so close to you. Aunt Claudia

  2. Abby, I did comment; but I wanted to ask, “Did tidings mean tidying (like making things neater)? Didn’t know how tidings fit in. claudia

  3. Great kick in the pants! Read a similar piece around the New Year but right-brain dominance seems to be on auto-pilot most days. By God’s grace I’ll improve this year! Thanks for the practical post!

  4. Chatting with friends about their systems & methods, then asking why they do things that way (in a non threatening way 😉 has always given me a good compare & contrast by which to evaluate my own system.
    It is especially true for me that systematically doing the things I do not enjoy gives me great freedom for guilt free pleasure of the things I do enjoy.

    • Yes. I love hearing how other people do things because I often learn how to do something better. I’d much rather put in the work up front and have guilt free relaxing later. 🙂 I learned that from the best!

  5. Great post! I have also learned a lot from trial and error since getting married and being responsible for my own home, so I totally related to this. I have found that I am a list person. If I just think it all out in my head about everything I need to get done that day, it’s less likely that I’ll actually get it all done. But having an actual physical list keeps me focused on first things first (*wink wink*) and helps me to not forget something, which is quite a feat for this very forgetful daydreamer. Having the chore list has really helped a lot.

    • Thank you! I’d much rather have a list…then you can mark things off! Lists in your head only get you so far. I’ve also found it helpful to plan your fun in your lists so that you don’t feel guilty for taking a break, and you’re not always going, going going!

  6. Pingback: Lessons from the Boutique 6: Fashion from Boutique to Housewife | A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

  7. Pingback: Lessons from the Boutique: Part 1: First Things First | A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

  8. Pingback: Lessons from the Boutique, Part 2: Opening and Closing | A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

  9. Pingback: Lessons from the Boutique 4: Dealing with People | A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

  10. Pingback: Lessons from the Boutique 5: Red Heels | A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

Comments are closed.