The other day I was thinking about what it takes to be able to find what you need when you need it. Yes, we professional organizers are a strange lot, daydreaming about what it takes to find things! But, alas, that’s the way my brain works!
The three keys to being able to find things on a regular basis are setup, habit and memory.
Setup–The best way to ensure that you will be able to find things is to create a “home” for everything. A home is the place where an item is stored so you can find it when you need it. Homes don’t just magically present themselves. They have to be set up. Setup takes time and careful thought to determine the best home for each item you own so you’ll know where to go to retrieve it when you need it. You will need to set up all the storage areas in your home, your car, your purse, your garage, your shed, even your wallet. When you create homes for everything, you’ll be creating an initial order. In so doing, you will be laying the groundwork for being able to find what you need when you need it. Setup is an initial action that will likely need evaluation and adjustments over time.
Habit–Having a home for everything is great, but if items aren’t returned to their homes after use, all your work to establish homes will quickly melt down into a mess. The essential habit you need to ensure you’ll be able to find what you need when you need it is to routinely return things to their homes after use. Retrieve things. Put them back. Retrieve things. Put them back. The repetition of putting things away will help you remember where everything is located in your space.
Memory–To be able to find things, you must remember how you set up your space. You must remember the homes you designated for each item. That is no small feat! Homes and offices are filled with thousands of items. If your memory isn’t the greatest, being able to find things will be a challenge. One way to build the necessary neural pathways to be able to remember where things live in your space is to work very hard on the habit of retrieving things and putting them away. If you are conscientious about putting things away immediately after use, that repetitive action will help create the neural pathways for remembering the homes of your things.
Setup, habit and memory. Where do you get hung up in this process of finding what you need when you need it? Do you struggle with setup, either because you have no clue how to do it or because you have difficulty making time for setup? Is your “put things away” habit weak? Or, is your memory your weak point? Perhaps you set up your space nicely but struggle with the habit of putting things away. If losing things is a constant challenge for you, identify where you struggle–with setup, habit or memory, and take steps to address your problem.
If you are at a loss for what to do to make real progress to improve the odds of finding things on a regular basis, remember that help is available from both coaches and professional organizers. Being able to find things on a regular basis is a great way to lower stress and feel empowered. It’s worth the investment of your time and money to improve the conditions for finding what you need when you need it!
© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie
“Author, Organizing Expert and Feng Shui Practitioner, Debbie Bowie, is a leading authority on clutter clearing to attract more of what you want in life. If you’re ready to clear clutter and move your life forward, get your FREE TIP SHEET, “Feng Shui Tips for Instant Success” at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.