Thursday, July 30, 2015

3 Keys Thursday: 3 Key Ideas for the Drop and Run Organizational Style

Photo: Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile
Drop and run. Can't you just picture this style in action? It's exactly what it sounds like (and if you have kids, you've most likely seen it in action!) Unfortunately, without a system to reel it in, the drop and run style is a recipe for clutter accumulation.

Fortunately, there are ways to rein in the drop and run lifestyle.
  • Don't issue an invitation. Do you have a surface in your home that invites clutter? A kitchen island? The dining room table? The floors in your kids' bedrooms? What Type A organizers see as clear, open space, drop and run folks view as an invitation. Perhaps you've even added a container to corral the clutter, hoping your favorite drop and run family member would drop things into the container instead of onto the surface. 
          Yeah. I tried that. And it took me (the offending drop and run person) a very long time to
          figure out that all that pretty basket did was give me permission to drop stuff there. I removed
          the basket and re-discovered my clean, clear space, which I have no desire to sully. I even got 
          rid of a container that wasn't earning its keep, so that everything that belongs on the counter 
          has a home. If it doesn't have a home on the counter, it has to live somewhere else. Which 
          means we drop and run organizers need to...
  • Develop a new habit: Don't put it down, put it awayEasy to do in the recently reclaimed spaces (because I remember how much work it took to get them to look that way!), but much harder in some other places that have become habitual drop points. When I taught this to my students in small groups, I gave them a laminated sign that said, Don't put it down, put it away! Maybe you need a sign (some days I do!) Maybe you need to keep saying it to yourself over and over again until it sticks. Maybe you need both. As a recovering drop and run organizer, I feel your pain, but I've learned when I remember to follow it, I create a lot less clutter in the first place. 
  • Set aside time to deal with the inevitable pile-ups. Life intervenes. Default styles take over. For the drop and run organizer, pile-ups are inevitable. The trick is to catch the piles when they're small so you can dispense with them even when time is scarce. In addition, by creating style-compatible homes for as many things as possible, we drop and run organizers can make it just as easy to put things away as it is to put them down, which reduces the likelihood that the piles will win the battle.
Can you tell this week's post was a little personal for me? If you're a drop and run organizer, what are the key ideas you swear by? Share in the comments below!

For printable information sheets 
about containers and the styles, 
click on the CHARTS tab at the top of this page.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Backpack Project: Part 1

So, it's almost time to start back-to-school shopping, at least according to the store circulars. Has your child emptied his backpack from last year?
If not, no worries. How a child uses a backpack (and all its nooks and crannies) provides a great deal of insight into his or her styles. If your child's backpack has been collecting dust in a corner all summer, now's a great time to empty it and assess those styles before you shell out money for supplies for the new school year. Understanding your child's styles before the new school year begins will help to ensure a positive start for your child and less wasted money for you.

Adults without children are welcome to join in the fun, too. Select a bag you use for work or leisure and follow the backpack steps below. For the sake of simplicity, I'm using male pronouns throughout the remainder of this post, but rest assured I'm fully aware that organization is as much of a struggle for girls (women) as it is for boys (men).

Before we begin, let me suggest some guidelines for those of you working with children:
  • Before tackling the backpack itself, have your child take the styles quiz to get a sense of his personal and organizational styles. By doing this, both you and your child can focus on how his styles and his backpack habits intersect. This doesn't need to be done immediately before the backpack session. In fact, for small children and/or those who struggle to focus, doing both the quiz and the backpack project in the same block of time can be overwhelming.
  • As you tackle the backpack itself, be prepared to let your child run the show, as you work hard to keep quiet and even bite your tongue. Your job is to watch, listen and learn. (This will be particularly difficult for Type A organizers). 
  • Consider how much time you think you'll need to empty and, if the backpack is in good shape, restock the backpack, following the ground rules above. Double it.

So, here goes.
Photo: Alvimann via Morguefile
  1. Begin by having him take everything out of his backpack. Pay attention to how he does this. Does he dump everything on the floor? Grab handfuls of things and yank them out? Carefully remove each item and tell you a story about it? Watch and learn (or reinforce your previous observations), keeping the styles in mind.
  2. Once everything is out of the backpack, assess its condition. If it's in good enough shape to reuse for the next school year, wipe the inside sections with a damp cloth. Help your child sharpen pencils, replace school supplies that are broken or missing and check to make sure that everything going back into the backpack is in good working order. 
  3. As your child (not you!) does this, talk with him about where he thinks things should go; have him explain to you where each item belongs and what he likes about that spot. Because this is his backpack, he should do most of the talking and deciding. If you need to keep your hands busy and out of the process, try grabbing a pen and jotting down his answers. Not only will this make him feel as though his answers matter, it will also make it clear that he's the boss of the organization process. If a child is old enough to carry the backpack to school, he’s old enough to have a say in how it’s organized.
  4. Once your child has assigned a home to everything that goes into the backpack, help him decide how he will remember where everything belongs. You may want to consider labeling the places outside the main section. This works especially well for I need to see it kids, but can be beneficial for I know I put it somewhere kids, too. (Drop and run kids may default to the largest available opening, but colorful labels might help them stick to the plan as well). You can use masking tape (use a permanent marker to write on the tape, then stick it on the item’s home) or Post-it notes, or you can go all out and use a label maker. Writing directly on the backpack with a permanent marker or fabric marker will also work, but will make it harder to re-label the space if he changes his mind later on.
Throughout this process, make sure your child understands what he's doing right. If your child is a cram and jammer, for example, focus less on the state of the items inside the backpack and more on the importance of successfully getting everything from school to home and back again. Help him downsize and eliminate unnecessary items, feeding his need for stuff (if he has one) with cool school supplies that serve a purpose but also qualify as stuff he loves.
Plumb Notebooks
Monster Alien binder

Exhausted? I'll bet. It's a lot harder letting them figure it out for themselves than it is simply telling them how it ought to be done. When you finish, take a few minutes to jot down (with your child) what you've learned and, if you're going backpack shopping in the near future, a list of requirements for a backpack that works with his styles. 
Then make sure to celebrate by doing something fun. You've both earned it.

Next week, we'll look at backpacks through the lens of the styles.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Organization Extra: BrightNest
I'm cheating a little today, linking to a blog post I wrote at about the BrightNest app and website. Cheating because I'm citing myself, but otherwise, the link meets my criteria for an Organization Extra: something informative that contributes to our continuing quest for an organized life.

BrightNest is kind of like a woman's magazine with really short articles on a variety of topics, organization among them. There are lots of fun hints on topics from organization to home maintenance to recipes, all easily digested (bad pun intended). Quickie questionnaires allow you to personalize the articles that pop up so they're suited to your needs.

Sure, there are lots of magazines out there that provide the same content, but BrightNest is tailored to those of us who might not have time to sit down and read a whole magazine, making it a great little resource for when you have only a little time.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

3 Keys Thursday: 3 Key Ideas for the I Love Stuff Personal Style

Photo: Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile

I love stuff folks are collectors. Often optimistic about not only fitting everything into a much-too-small space, but also about life in general, they are sentimental, attached to not just the things they collect, but the stories these things represent. But if they're not careful, those with the I love stuff personal style can end up with more stuff than space. This can feel catastrophic because the I love stuff person often can't imagine throwing anything away.

For those with an I love stuff style, organization often becomes a two-fold task. Items need a home, but because those homes are often visible to others, the collections on display need to have some type of organization as well.

Sound complicated? It doesn't have to be. Just go with your I love stuff gut.

Photo: krosseel via Morguefile
  • Keep like items together: This often comes naturally to I love stuff people who are collectors. A cluster of similar items or treasures united by a theme (color, function, size, etc.) looks neater than a haphazard group of items that appears to have been dumped on a shelf or table. Unrelated items look like clutter. Items that go together look like a collection.
  • Remember form, function & style? Aim for two out of three. Before adding something new to your collection, ask yourself how you'll use it. If you love it (style) and it serves a purpose (function), it may be worth adding to your collection. If it's the perfect size for that empty spot on your bookshelf (form) and you love it (style), that item may pass muster too. Asking these questions about an item's value to your life before you acquire it will help you avoid unnecessary duplicates, which lead to clutter. And before you take it home and fall in love with it completely, don't forget to ask yourself where its home within your home will be. The time to realize you have no place to put a new acquisition is before you acquire it. 
    Photo: mockingbird via Morguefile
  • Remember that Let it go! doesn't have to mean throw it away. De-cluttering is hard for the I love stuff person; getting rid of a beloved item can feel like letting go of a piece of oneself. When my daughter was small, she was firmly entrenched in the I love stuff personal style, and no logic or reason could get her to throw away something before she was ready. But if we could pass the item in question along to someone else who'd enjoy it as much as she had, she was much more willing to let it go. Over time, she's become more ruthless when it comes to de-cluttering, but for those who remain true blue I love stuff thinkers, remember that giving away and re-purposing are valid alternatives to the trash can when it's time to Let it go!
Photo: kzinn via Morguefile

If you have an I love stuff personal style, what are the key ideas you swear by? Share in the comments below!

For printable information sheets 
about containers and the styles, 
click on the CHARTS tab at the top of this page.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Tackling Problem Areas with STYLE

Have you seen the Febreze "noseblind" commercials? They worry me. I mean, are there really places in my house that smell like that?
The visual equivalent to noseblind-ness is long-term clutter. Now that I know I have. Long-term clutter is any pile that's been sitting in your house for so long that you no longer recognize it for what it is -- a pile of stuff that's not where it belongs. A stranger walking into your house would be visually distracted by it immediately, but most days, you can walk on by without even seeing it.

Not surprisingly, tackling those clutter piles is best accomplished with STYLE:

Start with successes.
Take small steps.
Yes, it has a home!
Let it go.
Easy upkeep.

Let's break it down.

Start with successesAdmittedly, successes can be hard to come by when it comes to long-term clutter, mostly because things that aren't where they're supposed to be aren't exactly an example of successful organizing. One trick to jump-starting this feeling of success is to flip the pile over (if this is possible). The oldest items, which are usually the easiest to part with, are at the bottom of the pile. By taking action on the things that tug at your heart strings (I love stuff), are wrinkled or torn (cram and jam), have expired (I love to be busy and drop and run), or have been forgotten (I need to see it and I know I put it somewhere), you can build a momentum that leads to success.
Take small steps. Give it five! is a great strategy to apply to long-term clutter, which can be overwhelming by definition. Alternatively, you can promise yourself that you can stop sorting when you've taken care of a certain number of items. Want to keep going? That's okay, too.

Yes, it has a home! This is where the definition of "taken care of" comes in. Specifically, this means that items have been put away, thrown away or taken to a new home outside of yours. "Put away" means that items with homes have been put there and previously homeless items have been given logical homes.

Let it go. Starting at the bottom of the pile facilitates this, too. It's much easier to let things go when they're expired or you completely forgot you had them in the first place. Keep in mind that letting things go doesn't always mean you have to throw them away. Recycling and re-purposing work, too.

Easy upkeep. Once you've cleared the clutter, take a moment to step back and enjoy the beauty of clear, open space. Then, make a commitment to yourself to keep it that way. Better yet, make a plan to keep it that way.

What comes next? If your house is like mine, you move on to the next pile.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Organization Extra: Would You Like Rings with that Organizational Tool?

Italian leather binders from
I'm not a big family history buff. My only brush with or anything of its ilk came when my daughter had to do a family history project for school and I passed off the research to my husband, who's more interested in this sort of thing. I enjoyed seeing all the photos, but had little interest in the family tree, maybe because I knew starting a project like this could suck me into one more thing that ate away at my already minuscule tidbits of discretionary time.

Although today's Organization Extra is about keeping track of family history documents, I liked it because it speaks to the greater issue of style. When I taught Organizing by STYLE to elementary school kids, even they, at their young organizational age, had strong preferences for binders vs. folders, for many of the same reasons described in this piece.

How about you? Are you a binder person, a folder person, or, like many of my former students, and aficionado of the accordion file?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

3 Keys Thursday: 3 Key Ideas for I Know I Put it Somewhere Organizers

Photo: Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile
Ah, the I know I put it somewhere organizer. So Type A organizer on the outside, yet so lost at times when it comes to finding those things he or she put in a "safe place."

One theory psychologists use to explain the memory process is a three step model: encoding, storage, retrieval. In order for us to successfully retrieve something from memory (remember it), it has to have been properly encoded (entered) and stored (put somewhere it can be accessed).

That same theory can be applied to the organizational process, particularly for the I know I put it somewhere organizer. Since all available storage space is created equal in the mind of the I know I put it somewhere organizer, these folks need to limit their options so they aren't tearing the house apart looking for one thing. For them, the key to successful retrieval lies in successful storage or finding homes that make sense.
  • Location rule #1: Store items where they are used. Storing an item close to where it's used (e.g., oven mitts near the oven) not only makes sense, but it also makes it easier to remember where we put things and, therefore, to find them when we need them. If we know our "somewhere" is limited to the storage spaces in the area where the item is typically used, we reduce our search parameters from "it could be anywhere" to "it's somewhere in this drawer." Quite a substantial reduction -- and one that requires much less time and energy when we need to find something, even if that something is (still) just stuffed in a drawer.
  • Location rule #2: Store like items together. This key combines storage and retrieval. If we use Location rule #1 and store an item in a place that makes sense, we're more likely to remember where we put it, which makes it easier to retrieve it. Storing like items together piggybacks on Location rule #1, making it easier to find things because of the associations we make  (e.g. I'm putting the oven mitts in the drawer with the cookbooks). These associations provide visual cues which act as retrieval cues. In other words, making a connection between, say, the cookbooks and the oven mitts, helps the I know I put it somewhere organizer remember which somewhere is the one he or she chose for both items.
  • Use retrieval cues. Some things can be used in a variety of spaces, making Location rule #1 challenging. And while opening the drawer and seeing the cookbooks can provide the "aha" moment that reminds us where we stored the oven mitts, it's even better if we can figure out which drawer to open in the first place. To do this, the I know I put it somewhere organizer can benefit from taking a page out of the I need to see it organizer's book, and using strategies like labeling, color-coding and see-through storage. Unlike the I need to see it organizer, the I know I put it somewhere organizer can put these see-through, labeled or color-coded containers behind closed doors (because out of sight isn't out of mind for I know I put it somewhere folks), or they can simply use these strategies and containers in the first place. Clear plastic bins come in many sizes and colors and can be incredibly helpful in revealing those "safe" storage places to I know I put it somewhere organizers. 
Really Useful Boxes

If you're an I know I put it somewhere organizer, what are the key ideas you swear by? Share in the comments below!

For printable information sheets 
about containers and the styles, 
click on the CHARTS tab at the top of this page.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Tangled -- And Not in a Good Way

I came back from the beach with one of my necklaces in knots. I'd packed it in a pouch, a method that's worked just fine on previous trips, but was a disaster this time around. After two unsuccessful (but brief) de-tangling sessions, I set it aside, knowing I'd have to work at this a little bit at a time, and in the meantime, I'd need to choose a different necklace.

I can't do much about my packing fiasco now, but I can make sure it doesn't happen again. This morning, I searched online for packing tips for jewelry, and came across this great blog, which I thought I'd share today so perhaps I can save someone else from making the same mistake I did.

For the I know I put it somewhere organizer
(I used decorated toilet paper rolls to store my electronics chargers -- inside the cardboard).

For the cram and jammer
(works for rings and earrings, but not for necklaces with fine chains)

For the I need to see it personal style
(I think I prefer her pill box idea, though).

The one I wish I'd tried.

All photos in this blog courtesy of Pinterest, via Travel Fashion Girl.
(I know what my next Pinterest board is going to be).

See you tomorrow for 3 Keys Thursday...unless I'm still untangling my necklace.

Photo: DodgertonSkillhause via Morguefile

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Organization Extra: 14 Habits

Photo: pippalou via Morguefile
This summer, in preparation for a class I'm teaching in the fall, I'm re-reading some of my favorite books on success (Mindset, Outliers), along with some other fun books I've discovered that tackle topics like perfectionism and procrastination.

When it comes to books on success, those of us who came of professional age in the last two decades of the 20th century think immediately of Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. With his private and public victories and focus on putting the most important things first, Covey reminded a generation of overachievers not to forget what really mattered, and, consequently, what truly defined success.

And so it I couldn't help but think of Covey as I read Sarah Klein's "14 Habits of Ultra-Organized People," primarily because her title was so reminiscent of Covey's. Klein's article describes what I've dubbed the "Type A" organizer: the logical, naturally organized person who rarely struggles with the concept and execution of "a place for everything and everything in its place."

If you, like me, are not one of those people, Klein's article is still worth a read. With twice as many points to cover, she gives less space to each, but still manages to cover them all in a way that makes sense, particularly to a generation raised on sound bites instead of self-help books. What I like best is that she discusses the why behind organization, as well as giving consideration to concepts like perfectionism, optimism and taking things one step at a time.

And, whether your organizational style is Type A, drop and run, cram and jam or I know I put it somewhere, letting go of perfectionism, seizing hold of optimism and taking things one step at a time is a pretty effective recipe for successful organizing.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

3 Keys Thursday: 3 Key Ideas for the I Need to See it Personal Style

DodgertonSkillhause via Morguefile

Last Thursday, I posted my final Throwback Thursday post. The truth is, I've run out of relevant posts to fill that slot, so today, I'm starting a new feature: 3 Keys Thursday. Inspired by last week's improvement of my I need to see it bathroom drawer, (and because I'm an I need to see it person myself), I'm leading off with 3 Keys for those with the I need to see it personal style.

Recycled Drawer Organizer
  • Subdivide drawers. As a rule, I need to see it  people do best when our stuff is visible, but we can't leave every element of our lives on display. That's just creepy. Drawer organizers (store-bought or homemade) enable us to put typical storage spaces to use by rendering the contents of drawers and other closed-off spaces visible as soon as we open them. Multi-drawer units can be further de-mystified by labeling the outside of the drawer with the general contents of the inside (e.g. "paper products"). This is the one strategy that helps me tame the fear that out of sight really is out of mind.
  • Lay it all out. Anyone who doubts that I need to see it   is my preferred personal style should watch me pack for a trip. If I don't lay it out (and that means practically everything except toiletries), it doesn't make it into the suitcase. I can tell when I'm close to finishing my packing because one by one, all of the piles begin to disappear. I'm much less worried about forgetting things if I see the big picture as I plan.
Barker Creek Giraffe file folders
  • Employ striking visuals. If color-coding is key, pattern-coding is even better. Even my file cabinet, which is mostly archival storage, contains multi-colored file folders. I assign a hanging folder color to each of my classes, and, when possible, match the inside folders to the color for that class, and use that option to tag all the files for that class on my Mac. Even better are the distinctive, patterned file folders that tell me which pile of papers is inside the folder before I even open it up. Lately, I've gotten really lucky, scoring 3 packs of patterned folders in the dollar bins at Target. This concept can be extended to desk bins, storage bins, or any other container.

If you have an I need to see it personal style what are the key ideas you swear by? Share in the comments below! 

For printable information sheets about containers and the styles, 
click on the CHARTS tab at the top of this page.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Saga of an I Need to See It Drawer

Last week, I opened my perfectly arranged I need to see it bathroom drawer and realized it was no longer so perfect. The addition, subtraction and replacement of necessary items had, over time, begun to erode my I need to see it organizational system.

Fortunately, the drawer was designed for Easy Upkeep, and so I had it back in shape in fifteen minutes, using just a few simple strategies:
  • Remove layers. Layers are the enemy of I need to see it organizing for one simple reason: the top layers obscure everything below. So much for seeing it. Excavating and getting things back down to a single layer restores visibility. Most of the upper layers were new additions to the drawer, and could be managed using one of the strategies below.
  • Consolidate duplicates. I didn't need a nearly full bottle of nail polish remover and one that had just a tiny bit left. After first checking the ingredients to ensure I wouldn't trigger an unpleasant chemical reaction, I combined the two and recycled the empty bottle.
  • Store extras elsewhere. I also had more of some things than I needed and new items waiting to take the place of old ones that weren't yet empty. I had homes for all of these; I just needed to put them there -- and out of prime real estate -- until I needed them.
  • Unpack/re-store/label. It can be a little challenging to store things in their original containers due to anything from the configuration of the packaging to the configuration of the drawer divider to the amount and shape of the space available. If the packaging works, great. If not, take it apart and store it in a more convenient fashion, then label the new container (if it's not see-through) so you remember what's inside.
In the end, the differences were subtle, and, truth be told, I ended up with top and bottom layers on the left. But, since the bottom container (where the unpackaged/repackaged razors are hiding) is visible, labeled, and less frequently accessed than the upper items, I'm living with it for now, as I consider where else that top layer can go. 

The bottom line? I consider my fifteen minutes well spent. Every time I open the drawer, I can see everything in it and access exactly the item I need in mere seconds. For an I need to see it organizer, that's as close to organizational perfection as it gets.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Organization Extra: Clutter Reduction = Happiness
Last spring, right around the time the semester ended, I made a trip to the library to drop off donations. Time to read was still around the corner, blockaded by papers and finals that needed to be graded, but sending an author to the library and expecting her to leave empty-handed is like sending a two-year-old to a candy store with the same expectation.

So, I went in search of books that might make worthy contributions to next semester's classes, and emerged with Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project. Not only am I using it next semester, but I also enjoyed every chapter.

Today's Organization Extra, "10 Tips to Beat Clutter in Less Than 5 Minutes," is from Gretchen's Happiness Project Blog, one of many goals she set and achieved in conjunction with the writing of the book.

And who knows? These tips might actually yield that rare commodity: time to read a good book.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Never Listless

This post first appeared on The Porch Swing Chronicles in November 2014.

I've written before about to-do lists: writing them, using them, conquering them. I've read about them, too -- how to do them, how not to do them, how long/short/organized/detailed they should be. To categorize or not to categorize. Short and simple or long and comprehensive. Day-by-day or one big jumble.

And I keep changing my mind.

To-do lists are a necessary evil. We need them to keep track of the details of our lives, but if we're not careful, they can take over. Living by the list leaves little time for the things that refresh and sustain us. After all, when's the last time you wrote "take a nap" or "curl up with a book" on a to-do list?

My to-do lists vary. When I was working full-time, they were scrawled on scraps of paper and separated by home tasks and work tasks. When I first retired, I kept a master list and culled items from it to add to the daily schedule. These days, I do a little bit of both.

Last Saturday morning, I woke up with a to-do list that could fill a notebook -- or at least it felt that way. Typically, I shy away from writing down every single thing I need to do (especially on days like that) because halfway through the process, I grow weary and depressed from the mere act of considering everything I need to do.

Unfortunately, the alternative is keeping it all in my head (and running the risk of forgetting to do things) and so some days, like last Saturday, I succumb. I dump all of my to-dos (or at least the ones that occur to me at the moment) onto paper and then take stock.

This time, it wasn't the sheer quantity of what I needed to do that threatened to send me back to bed; in terms of length, the list was reasonable. But the amount of space each item took up on the page in no way corresponded to the amount of time each thing would take.

Today is Monday, and I'm still working on that Saturday list. The funny thing is, that's not a bad thing because I sort of suspected it would happen.

Yesterday afternoon, I approached my list with trepidation. I'd written it on Saturday, then started my day, filling it with both on-the-list and off-the-list (routine) items. And a lovely thing happened.

I did most of the things on the list. And the act of checking them off was very fulfilling indeed.

No matter how we do to-do lists, one thing is true in nearly every case. Dumping tasks onto the page frees us from the responsibility of carrying them around, trying to keep track of them. That's what the list is for. And if we make the list, plot out the day and then go about our business, we sometimes find that the list has taken care of itself and we get to check things off.

Not all lists are created equal, however. Some days, I grip my list in my sweaty fist all day long lest I forget to complete something that's on it. And grocery lists? I never leave home without them -- at least not when I know I'm bound for the grocery store.

Slowly, I've come to realize that to-do lists must be fluid. We can't simply make one list and be done with it, and the sooner we make peace with that idea, the more useful (and less stressful) our lists become. In the end, there's really only one thing that's true about all to-do lists.

It's fun crossing things off of them.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Finishing Up with STYLE

Photo: cohdra via Morguefile
Okay, 'fess up. When I told you last week that the final element of Easy Upkeep is looping back to the STYLE process, did you try it out? Or, have you gotten lost in the details and completely forgotten what the STYLE process even is? (That's okay -- I can identify). In case you need a refresher, here it is again:

Start with successes.
Take small steps.
Yes, it has a home!
Let it go.
Easy upkeep

The good news is that going through the steps in this process as you troubleshoot should be much  easier now than it was before. Knowing your styles and having the right tools — those details that are so easy to get lost in  makes this process go faster as we move from letter to letter in a focused, knowledgeable fashion. 

Once you know your styles and your preferred tools and methods, a cursory examination of a spot that's not quite right is enough, in most cases, to reveal what you need to change, making STYLE look something like this as we approach our own organizational challenges:

Start with successes (What can I keep exactly as it is?)
Take small steps (How can I just make a small dent here?) 
Yes, it has a home! (What's here, but belongs somewhere else?)
Let it go (Do I really need all of this?)
Easy upkeep (What will make this space both functional and attractive?)

My house is still work-in-progress, and it always will be. But when I look at the areas that need improvement through an I need to see it/drop and run lens, it's much easier to brainstorm solutions and create a space I want to spend time in.
  • I know better than to store things in cardboard boxes with lids because that works at cross-purposes to my I need to see it style.
  • I've learned that it's a waste of time to store frequently used items in out-of-the way places. Not only is that a basic organizational no-no, it also works against my I need to see it style, and so, if it's too much trouble to retrieve, I'll just leave it out -- not a good plan.
  • I know that if I want to maintain order, I need to make it as easy to put things away as it is to put them down. Why? Because my predominant organizational style is drop and run.
  • I know that attractive containers not only beautify a space, but unique, attractive containers help me to remember what goes where. Once again, I need to see it at work. Visual cues help me to keep track of where things belong.

Bottom line? Knowing my styles allows me to achieve success, even if I can only do things one baby step at a time (which means some places in my house remain a work-in-progress). Getting rid of the excess and finding homes for my things reduce clutter and increase efficiency. And setting up a system that works with my styles allows for easy upkeep, because I'm working with my natural tendencies, not against them, or trying to make a plan that works for someone else work for me.

How's your upkeep going? Share your successes and frustrations in the comments below.