In life, you are constantly trying to bring some form of order to make it easier to navigate. It’s amazing how some simple fundamental organizational rules can make your life so much less complicated. For a lot of people, a grand chunk of time goes into looking for things that are often right under their noses. By adopting a fundamental rule — “A place for everything and everything in its place” — you can make things so much easier.
If you observe most successful people, both in their professional and personal domains, they are almost psychotic when it comes to assigning a place for everything. This can be illustrated in the kitchen of a great chef or in the garage of a mechanic. You will observe that every utensil or tool has been placed to facilitate a high level of efficiency and they are fanatical about maintaining this at all times. Here are some simple pointers that will help eliminate the chaos in your working or home space.
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Identify clutter zones
Put your observational skills to work. There are certain “danger zones” in your work or home space that develop into “default clutter deposit spots.” These are mostly flat open surfaces such as the dining table, a bed, living room drawers and the area surrounding them, kitchen counters, the space around your sink, and so on. Once you have identified these danger zones, focus on keeping them clear at all times as a top priority.
A place for everything
Everything has its place. Do not yield to the temptation of dropping stuff on the counter as soon as you walk in. Assign a “home” for everything, and make sure that once something leaves your hand, it “gets home.” It’s going to be tough in the beginning, so resist the urge to just drop things on the counter and “walk” your things home. In a couple of days, you will find yourself in the flow and can say goodbye to wasting half your day looking for keys.
There’s this slippery little zone between the point where you’ve finished one task and set about another. This is a transition zone where you dispose of the objects involved in one task and access other objects for your new task. Make sure you clear the clutter associated with the first task before you start the next. For instance, you’ve been washing dishes, and when you’re finished, you realize you need to run to the store. Make sure the washed dishes aren’t just stacked next to the sink. Put them in their storage space before you run out.
The labeling game
For the uninitiated, you need to exercise caution here. This is an extremely addictive exercise once you start doing it. If the idea of getting a label maker seems far-fetched, you can start with some blank labels and old containers. Once you start seeing things neatly labeled and in their place, you are going to be hooked for life.
Imagine your workspace or home to be a machine that makes your life work. Set a time frame between periodic assessments to “overhaul” your system.
People evolve, situations change, and you may have to re-arrange things or re-designate spaces for things that you use in a different way or in a different place. For instance, you may find it more convenient to have that small table by your couch in the living room rather than by your bed when you start working from home. This keeps things streamlined and practical.
Remember that small changes make a big difference. You don’t have to overhaul your life in one go. Don’t take on ambitious projects that crush your spirit before you even start. Begin by clearing your table and follow it up with another small task. Things will start falling into the flow once you invest time into developing the habit.