Getting organized feels terrific – one of the best feelings there is! Unfortunately, I often see people making a couple of mistakes, which can undermine the long term effectiveness of their organizational system.
Here are a few reminders.
WHAT NOT TO DO:
1. Place small items loose in a large space.
The key here is the relationship between the size of the space and the size of the items being stored there. Most often, we have small items to store in a larger space, such as cosmetics in a drawer, or tools on a shelf. Never just toss small items into a drawer or onto a shelf; they will undoubtedly end up muddled.
Instead -> Subdivide the space with smaller containers, such small boxes, cutlery trays or drawer inserts.
2. Wrap rubber bands around paper.
Rubber bands are great for some purposes, but paper isn’t one of them. They make the paper bend, get stuck in files, and ultimately loose elasticity, dry out and break. I rarely use a rubber band, and never for a long term storage solution.
Instead -> Keep papers organized with folders and hanging files. If you wish to group papers within a file, use a staple, paper clip or binder clip.
3. “Hide” objects in containers.
Containers that aren’t clear are concealers. They hide their contents, and most of us end up forgetting what’s inside. Sometimes we intentionally select opaque containers because they will be seen and we want them to be attractive. But anytime we stash items in a concealer, we are at risk of losing them.
Instead -> Use clear containers where appropriate and always use labels. When you don’t want the labels to show, put them under the container, on the inside of the lid, or on the back.
4. Create complex storage solutions.
Most people don’t enjoy putting items away. A system that requires the user to jump through hoops is probably a failure-in-waiting. We are less likely to put belongings away if we have to…
- go up too many stairs,
- remove lids,
- transfer items from one container to another,
- access a space that is out of reach,
- unpack other objects first,
- or do anything which seems difficult.
Instead -> Make it as easy to put away as it was to take out, and keep it as simple as possible. Also, make sure the system is age-appropriate.
5. Pack a space to capacity.
A system that is “filled to the brim” is likely to become quickly out of date. Most people are regularly bringing items in, so a good system will be able to accommodate new arrivals.
Instead -> Always leave “room to grow.” If you find yourself shoving and squeezing items into a container, consider letting go of a few. When a container nears capacity, follow the “one in, one out” rule.
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Expending effort and energy on a system that quickly falls apart is discouraging. Be smart when organizing, and don’t be afraid to make adjustments if you find something isn’t working.
What mistakes have you made with your stuff?