Out of sight=out of mind

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A funny story about one of my latest organization projects: I asked my client if she used a letter opener when she opened her mail. She had 2 so I was curious if she used them or not. She said:

“I want to use them but I can never find them when I open my mail.”

If I had a nickel for every time I asked a client if they used something and the answer was “I want to,” I’d have a lot of nickels. Wanting to and doing are 2 totally different actions: one is mental and one is physical. The physical should win when deciding whether to keep accoutrements acquired during the “wanting to” phase. I’m all for trying new activities and intellectual or physical pursuits but when you don’t commit to actually doing these things, your home becomes cluttered with all of the things you want to do instead of full of things that support what you actually do.  That can be a lot of clutter and I’m not even going to talk about the guilt associated with buying stuff that you haven’t used. You could have a house filled with guilt!

The point is to look carefully at your life and what you enjoy doing and support those efforts. Time is too short to be spent worrying about what you spent on activities you don’t participate in. Forget that you’re not going to get to that needlepointing/ ice climbing/ painting/ <insert other craft here> and give those items to someone who will use it. They’ll appreciate the contribution and you can feel better clearing out your house.

Also, you don’t use what you can’t see. You’ve probably heard the saying “of out of sight, out of mind”a few times in your life! If you can’t see or easily locate it, you won’t use it. Put a system in place so you can find what you need to easily. You should be able to tell a stranger where just about everything should be in your home if you had to.

So what happened to the letter openers?  Problem solved because now they are on top of the paper storage, in plain site where she opens her mail. I love it when a plan comes together!

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Home Office Organization Project

It’s amazing how our homes have evolved through the past few years to no longer have formal dining or living rooms and instead a home office is absolutely imperative. Forget about formal entertaining and guest rooms; we need a place to set up a computer, phone, supplies, etc. It’s the same in my house but our problem is that we have 2 people who work from home. I’m sure there is some social evolutionary commentary that could be made but I’ll leave that to you readers.

I recently worked with a client who needed her home office organized so she could find what she needed at any particular time. Although she knew where things were (roughly) there was no method to the madness and the stacks were getting higher. Here is her Must Have list:

  1. Catalogs from suppliers
  2. Samples to send out – business cards, pens, notepads, totes, cups
  3. Order files
  4. Project files pending later date
  5. Project files I am working on now
  6. Rush order file
  7. Printer supplies – ink, paper
  8. Idea files – for my creative thoughts that happen spontaneously during the day or night…ha ha
Fortunately, she had plenty of available space in the office with built in bookcases and cabinets. We didn’t have to buy any furniture either. I just had to figure out the best way to maximize the available space and designate homes for all of her different supplies, catalogs, files, orders, etc.
Cabinet had become a disorganized dumping ground for all kinds of supplies. She wasn’t even sure what all was in here.

Another cluttered cabinet. She knew some of what was in here but the space wasn’t designated for anything specific.
Desk area before. Her papers kept falling out of the stacking file and the stacks were starting to take over.

So you’d probably agree that this wasn’t the most inspirational place to work, let alone be productive. That’s one of the hidden costs of disorganization: you not only spend valuable time looking for things but you also have to work harder to motivate yourself to work in a cluttered, draining environment.

After discussing her needs and work patterns in more detail, I got a better idea of what she needed to have access to on a regular basis and what her day typically entailed. I was able to designate specific areas for some of her important tasks like sending samples to clients, accessing vendor catalogs, storing office supplies, storing shipping supplies, tracking current “active” projects, and my personal favorite, a calendar so she can easily determine ship times, current and future activities, and other important dates.

Office supplies now have a home. This includes software manuals, tape, paperclips, special printing papers, etc.
This is where samples to be sent out are stored next to shipping supplies thus grouping similar activities together. Smart and neat!
Nice desk. All active project information is easily accessible in stacking file holder.

But I ask you to take a look at the finished product and tell me how you feel. Isn’t neat, organized, and clear smart? I thought so. 😉

Happy organizing!