Thursday, October 13, 2016

3 Keys Thursday: 3 Characteristics of a Working Organizational System

Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile
Last Saturday, a trip I'd planned fell through, leaving me a bit bummed out, but with "found time." So, motivated by my last few blog posts (which had gotten my wheels turning), I decided to tackle my closet.

Some people clean when they're upset. Others read.

I organize.

I knew I didn't want to create a big mess, so I set aside an hour to review the bin and drawer situation, which is approximately one third of the job. Because my system is (mostly) working, an hour (okay, an hour and half) was enough time for me to make visible progress. And, when you're an I need to see it person, visible progress is the best kind.

Last week, I focused on closet habits that can get you into trouble. This week, I want to focus on a few that prove you're doing it right, and what to do if your current system just isn't earning its keep.

When your system is working:

The side effects of your default styles are minimized -- or better yet, gone. Pile-ups, mystery locations, crushed, torn or broken items and that horrible feeling of being completely overwhelmed by stuff are wispy memories when your system is working. In fact, the thing that told me that my closet needed to be re-evaluated was the re-emergence of pile ups and visual clutter. If my storage systems were 1) working as they ought to and 2) consistent with my styles, there should have been few pile ups and little visual clutter. Finding the why behind the visual clutter and planning accordingly by rethinking what went where resulted in streamlining that will (I hope) make those side effects a thing of the past.

You use it on a regular basis. Good systems are easy to use and maintain. If you're bypassing the system, a key component of one of your styles is probably going unaddressed. Set aside the "shoulds" and plan realistically. Maybe that metal file cabinet that keeps everything hidden is a great tool for your spouse, but if you pile things on top of it instead of opening the drawers, maybe a file holder with an open top is a better fit for your style.

You can find what you're looking for.  To me, the true test of being organized is that you can find what you're looking for in five minutes or less. Smoothly running systems earn their keep in saved time and reduced stress. If you have to go on a scavenger hunt for something every time you need it, it may be time to re-think the location you've chosen. This is also true when the supply of something has overrun its container or when you remember where it is, but it takes you more than five minutes to dig it out.

At my house, the first battle of the closet re-vamp wars has been won. I got rid of a few things and  relocated a few things, which created space. Then, what appeared to be visual clutter could easily be given home of its own.

As it turned out, the stuff that was out of place was only a symptom; the real visual clutter was the storage containers themselves. Because they were in the wrong place, they displaced other things, creating an eyesore which greeted me every time I opened the closet door. Once I moved the bins to a different spot in the closet, everything not only worked better, it looked better, too.

And I didn't even need to buy new stuff -- although I did come close.

Designed by Kjpargeter -
But the best payoff of all was discovering that the system I'd created was working; I had the right tools and I was using them well. Still, as the contents of my closet grew and changed, I had to remember to adjust my system as well.

This time, the adjustments were mostly about location. As I tackle the rest of the closet, I suspect that the issues will have to do with quantity and will require me to give more thought to the three Rs than this week's task did.

But this week's task left me feeling so good, I think I'm up for the next step. Who knows? I might even free up more storage space.

And in a small closet, that's like hitting the jackpot.

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