I heard someone the other day say in passing that “there’s more than one way to skin a cat,” and it got me thinking about the process of organizing. What’s cool about organizing is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. Being organized is a highly personal and customized process that taps equally into our creative, analytical and rational abilities. When organizing actual objects, some people need to see everything laid out in front of them and have lots of visual cues, while others prefer that everything be neatly hidden behind closed doors when not in use. Some people like storage bins and baskets with bright colors, while others prefer a more relaxed color palate. With that being said, and despite your personal style and habits, I think it’s safe to say that there are a few foundational rules to live by that are important in the process of organizing our stuff.
Things serve us better when grouped into categories based on what they are and how they are used. It’s a good idea to keep like-with-like where it makes sense. For instance, keeping all your cooking spices together in the same cabinet and not spread out across multiple locations saves time and effort in finding the right spice for your recipes. Sheets should probably be kept together and maybe separated in different baskets by bed size or family member. DVDs probably belong together in one place for easy reference.
Once grouped, consider the items’ functions and arrange them in a way that makes them easily accessible right in the places where they will likely be used. Most of us would not store silverware in the bathroom or socks in the garage for example. Storing the right things close to where they will be used also saves time and the effort to locate everything when needed for the task at hand.
Going a step further, it’s helpful to think about the zones of operation within each space. These are the areas within reach when performing routine activities, like doing laundry, paying bills and making coffee. If I am in the kitchen making a cup of coffee, my zone of operation should ideally contain all the things needed to make that cup of coffee within arm’s reach. This means the mugs, coffee and coffee maker should be near each other. If I must walk completely across the kitchen to grab a mug, back across to the opposite corner to open the refrigerator and grab the creamer, and then back to the other side again to brew my coffee, I end up with a lot of wasted time and effort and am now potentially bumping into family members as I go.
If we can remember these 3 simple, foundational rules to 1) group things into categories, 2) arrange by use for easy accessibility, and 3) store in zones by routine activity, the rest is really left to the eyes of the beholder. Whether you like wire baskets or clear plastic bins, drawers or open shelving, there really is more than one way to skin that cat when getting organized. Meow!