Over the years, I’ve enjoyed teaching thousands of clients basic organizing principles that help them get control of their stuff, give them more room and space, and save them time and money.
All of the techniques and skills I teach are built upon simple truths. Every so often, it’s good to step back and reflect on the organizing principles that should guide our lives and will help us enjoy life more fully.
In this 1st installment of Principles To Live By and Enjoy Life More Fully, I want to share two simple concepts that will make so much sense, you will ask, “Why in the world have I not done this before now?”
Store items near the first place that you use them.
Often, I have watched in dismay as my clients and friends vainly search for a needed item in their offices or homes, as it quickly becomes evident that they have no idea where they put it.
If they would simply follow this principle, store items near the first place that they use them, they would easily and quickly find their needed item.
Here is what that would mean for your office space. Store your most used files nearest you in your desk. Store the archived, older files farther away from you in your office or perhaps in another storage room. One client had all of his files stored in his office. The only problem was he had eight, four-drawer filing cabinets in his office! Yikes, you don’t need to store every single file that you have in your office. If there is room, move the outdated, older files outside of your office.
This is what it would look like for your home. Store your knives for cutting and your utensils for mixing close to your mixing area in your kitchen. Store your recipes, flour, sugar, mixing bowls and baking sheets in a area close to your stove, like my friend Brenda did in her kitchen photo. She loves to bake and this makes any task all the more enjoyable.
Don’t go through your work to get to your work.
Do you want to discover instantly if you need to reorganize any area in your office or home? Ask yourself the question, “Am I going through my work to get to my work?” Whenever I ask this question in my seminars, I get major groans from the audience. “That’s exactly what I am doing all day long” is their response. If you are going through your work to get to your work, then you are costing your company money and wasting precious time that you could be working and producing, or perhaps relaxing with your family.
In Brenda’s kitchen, if you enlarge the photo, you can see how her baking pans are standing on their sides in racks. And beneath her spice drawer, she uses the same technique to keep her from moving baking sheets to get a baking sheet and moving pans to get to a pan. Way to go, girl!
For example, in your office, do you move your papers from one location to another because you do not have enough work space to do your work? Are you piling your work files and then having to unstack them in order to find the file you need? In your home, are you lifting three pans to get to your skillet? Are you moving countless knickknacks in order to dust? In your bedroom, are you constantly shuffling through your socks to find the correct pair? If you can say yes to any of the above, you are going through your work to get to your work, and thus, you are doubling your work.
Besides the physical turmoil, what is going through your work to get to your work doing to your psyche? You stew because you constantly misplace your files, or your keys, or whatever. Your marriage is negatively affected because now both parties have to stop their normal routines to search for what was misplaced. You get angry at yourself once again and promise yourself once again that you are going to get organized, but life swallows your time and off you go, never stopping to address the real problem. Consequently, this dance is repeated over and over.
Take some time during your workday and notice if you are searching for your work. If you are, take some more time to reorganize and establish a system for your files, paperwork, or whatever needs adjusting. You will feel better about yourself, save your company a lot of money, and save yourself a lot of energy.
Check out my book, “If I File It, Can I Find It?” It is a snappy, simple, succinct booklet that gives you a step-by-step procedure to organize your office.