Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Attacking My Files with STYLE

The end of the semester is rapidly approaching and my plate is full. Today, in fact, is a full-out backwards to-do list kind of day.

Definitely the season for 5 Small Things.

But last weekend, I decided to follow through on some brainstorming I'd done one night when I couldn't fall asleep. Exponentially increasing to-do lists tend to have both those effects on me -- difficulty sleeping and an increased desire to do things besides the most pressing things on my to-do list (a.k.a. structured procrastination).

But I digress.

Spurred by a short spurt earlier this month spent clearing space on the counter in my office, I wanted to keep the momentum going. This meant not only clearing more space on the counter, but also streamlining some organizational systems. A few projects in progress were encroaching on the counter (dropped there and left there by a rogue drop and run organizer) because they'd outgrown their assigned spaces. And, in one case, I was unhappy with the assigned space itself; while it worked well for my styles, it was too small to house everything it needed to house.

Clearly, it was time for an organization intervention. Enter STYLE.
I have an entire collection of these fabric
file boxes from Thirty-One Gifts because
they're perfect for my I need to see it/
drop and run

  • The successes: The open-top file holder on the counter did a good job of keeping my labeled files in order (successful plan), but I'd expanded it as far as I could, and had resorted to stacking things on top of it (unsuccessful implementation). I needed to replicate the concept in a bigger space.
  • Small steps: The small file cabinet in my office had become more of an archive than a functioning organizational system. I'd initially considered moving it out of the office and replacing it with open storage, but that was too big a task for the time I had available. Instead, I started by sorting through the bottom drawer to toss outdated files and move materials to be "archived" out of prime real estate. This  freed up space I could then use to house the materials from the overstuffed countertop file.
  • Yes, it has a home: Archived files, all of which could be filed under two topics, needed a new home. For now, they are in a file holder in the basement. Labeled. This gives me time to consider whether or not their current home will be their permanent destination. Meanwhile, I moved the active materials into their new home in the now-much-lighter bottom file drawer.
  • Let it go: Any time we sort any place (counter, file drawer, desktop, closet) is a perfect time to get rid of anything outdated, uninteresting or no longer of use. I'm happy to say I did some shredding and recycling, reducing all of the piles involved. Less stuff means fewer homeless items and more streamlined storage.
  • Easy upkeep: Moving from an open file to a file drawer is a major test for an I need to see it personal style. Because I moved a big chunk of materials I will access frequently into the same (closed) space, I am optimistic that out of sight won't mean out of mind. Labeled file folders allow me to accommodate my drop and run organizational style, and, if necessary, I can label the drawer as well to create a visual reminder of its contents. Even better, because there's room to grow, the new home for my files should last a while.
While it's rare that I go through the STYLE process start-to-finish in one day, (let alone only part of one), it's possible to do so when the goal is updating systems that are already soundly STYLE-based. In this case, an investment of a couple of hours yielded a beautiful, empty counter. 

Do you have a system that needs revamping? Which step of the STYLE process can you take today? 

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